Dealer Reviews Matter — The More Recent, The Better

Dealer Reviews are more important than ever in today’s ‘go-online-first’ world.  Consumers, more often than not, begin their journeys online when they start their vehicle search.  Reviews can play a pivotal part in helping consumers decide how they will proceed to research and shop for their next vehicle.  Over 90 percent of consumers who shop online, regardless of product or service, say they use online reviews¹.  That’s significant!

We’ve been actively working on growing the amount of reviews on Cars.com to better inform car shoppers for years now.  We’ve grown from offering only Dealer Reviews to also offering Service Reviews and now integrating DealerRater reviews for car shoppers.

Now that we feature DealerRater reviews, consumers have access to three million more consumer submitted reviews in addition to existing reviews on Cars.com to total 4.6 million dealer reviews site-wide. This can only grow the review platform to benefit consumers and dealers in one location.

In a recent study conducted to learn consumer opinion of online reviews, respondents indicated more often that recent reviews were useful when compared to less recent reviews regardless of the product or service – not a surprise here¹.

The majority of respondents feel that reviews should be within the past six months when they read them or more recent in order to be considered useful¹.  When we specifically asked how they felt about car dealership reviews and car reviews, 44% of respondents agreed that both should be within the past six months to be considered useful.

Based on the  integration of DealerRater reviews onto Cars.com, and research conducted on the value of more recent reviews to the consumer, dealer reviews ratings currently live on Cars.com will be adjusted to reflect only those recent reviews within the past 24 months.  This will help make reviews more actionable and relevant to the consumer who is considering a dealer.

But why? As reviews age, employees can turnover, processes that were reviewed can change for the better or worse, and inventory offered for sale could have significantly changed.  Utilizing the most recent reviews is beneficial to dealers as they provide a better tool for gauging current consumer satisfaction.  The benefit for consumers being now they can make decisions on more recent and relevant information.  The end goal being to connect consumers with the right dealership, with the right person, and right vehicle at the right time.  Additionally, reviews can pinpoint issues in a consumer’s shopping journey that can be improved by the dealer.

Given the reach of Cars.com and DealerRater across multiple touch points online, a single review can reach across multiple platforms where consumers are shopping to provide more value to all involved by being seen by millions of consumers not just on Cars.com, but other frequently visited third-party automotive sites potentially leading to an increase in walk-in traffic at the dealership.

So, now is the time to take stock in your current dealer review rating.  Consumers read reviews and write them for all to see.  Knowing the benefit of reviews as a powerful force for change and for driving influence and traffic to the lot, it’s important to continually monitor and reply to dealer reviews and make changes as necessary based on consumer feedback.  In the end, when you know how you’re reviewed, you can better influence consumers to show up and make that vehicle purchase.

[1] Review Usefulness and Recency, Cars.com, November, 2016.

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