Cars.com Analyzes Dealer Reviews to Uncover Common Shopper Pain Points, National Trends

Online reviews continue to grow in importance within the automotive industry, with seven of 10 car shoppers stating that reviews of dealerships are a ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ important part of the research process. To better understand this trend, Cars.com conducted a text analysis using the nearly one million consumer-submitted reviews on its site and uncovered several unique shopper behaviors, as well as opportunities for retailers and manufacturers.

Cumulative dealer reviews on Cars

“Online reviews are more than social proof; they’re equity for dealerships,” said Simon Tiffen, senior manager, advertiser insights at Cars.com. “Now that reading and writing online reviews is normal behavior for consumers, we’re able to aggregate and analyze real-life experiences to make tangible improvements to the shopping process – not to mention find out some fun stuff along the way.”

Consumers Share Reviews During Office Hours

More than half (52%) of all dealer reviews on Cars.com are left between 10 am and 4 pm ET, with Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday being the days shoppers most frequently write reviews. Only 7% of all reviews are left on Sunday, and virtually no reviews are left between 3am and 5am ET.

Time of day

“Since consumers are most likely to leave a review during mid-day, it makes sense for manufacturers and dealerships to capitalize on that behavior,” shared Tiffen. “If you’re asking customers to submit a review, time your communication for when they’re most open to sharing, which often means during typical working hours.”

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Bad Experiences Lead to Longer, More Immediate Reviews

The analysis shows that the average length of a dealer review on Cars.com is 62 words; however, reviews that do not recommend a dealership are 142 percent longer than those that do, on average.

Though they account for just a small fraction (4%) of all reviews, negative reviews are 19 percent more likely to be written on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday, presumably after a poor weekend experience at the dealership.

“When a consumer has a bad experience, they want their voice heard,” added Tiffen. “Businesses mess up sometimes – that’s a given. But now retailers have an opportunity to resolve individual issues as well as identify larger problems connected to dealership process through direct customer feedback.”

Review lengthGiven the added strain on dealership staff during peak shopping periods, Tiffen also suggests retailers take notice of the consequences of providing a poor customer experience.

“Retailers need to pay extra attention during high-traffic hours to make sure their customer service doesn’t slip,” added Tiffen. “This includes monitoring online review and social media channels, where consumers are likely to vent after a negative experience.”

Dealerships Ignore Opportunity to Respond

Though simple tools are provided to dealerships to reply to both positive and negative reviews, less than one-third of all dealer reviews on Cars.com are answered. A missed opportunity, the analysis shows that dealer review response rate positively correlates to a higher average star rating.

At a state level, this same trend holds true. Delaware, the highest rated state (4.7/5), has an average response rate of greater than 60 percent. Conversely, the state with the lowest average dealership rating, South Dakota (3.9/5), is home to dealerships with an average response rate of less than 10 percent.

Additional findings from the analysis include

  • On average Cars.com reviewers give dealerships a rating of 4.6 out of 5
  • Franchise dealerships account for 84% of all reviews
  • Of dealerships that have reviews on Cars.com, 80% have more than 20

Breakdown of dealer reviews by type

  • Used-car sales – 38%
  • New-car sales – 37%
  • Service – 24%

Methodology

The analysis was conducted using a random sample of 10,000 Cars.com dealer reviews submitted between 1/1/2014 and 9/30/2014.

4 thoughts on “Cars.com Analyzes Dealer Reviews to Uncover Common Shopper Pain Points, National Trends

  1. Went to a car dealer in PA called Fuzzy Dice and was very well taken care of and in a timely manor I would like to give them a good review

  2. bought a 2011 Lincoln from Marstallers motors, in Waco, Tx….was high pressured over about 5 hours, they would not let me leave…..finally bought the car, found out later I paid several thousand over bluebook..,…. then one week later decided to go back and trade it in for the 2014 lincoln that was the exact same car, I was trading the 2011 car I had bought from them just one week earlier but they would only give me 9000.00 less than I gave for it ….wow, at that reduction, it would be worth $100.00 after another year…..actually the dealer told me it was a one owner car, that he had sold it new….BUT Car fax said it was a three owner car….wow, and he even said he had serviced it everytime it had been serviced….this is where the dealers get the bad names , really bad names……I will never buy anything from them again……thank goodness I found a real great dealership ,Planet World in Spring , Tex and found a really great dealer, George Adams, that answered all my questions, and went 100% of being a good dealer and even got the car I wanted, same car only 2013,same color and everthing,….cost was cheaper than the original price I paid for the 2011…….well, had to make a long drive but it was surely worth it……will be worth it to visit them for your next car……Carol C.

  3. I got a Toyota rave 4 from Toyota of Manhattan.and I was pleased and satisfied with the quality of the cars they sell there all of there staff very professional people I never felt like I did there in other dealer’s they make you feel like part of their family actually I had 2 sell staff people that took care of me Aida Fermi and Franklin very professional people Aida made me feel like sister and Franklin very nice guy and ray very understanding and professional I highly recommend Toyota of Manhattan and their staff great people and dealership to make business with thank you Toyota of Manhattan for making my dream come true Aida lot’s of kisses for you !!!

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