Go beyond the stars
Six steps to take your reputation to the next level
From dentists to dealerships, people rely on the internet to decide who they do business with — and that makes your online reviews essential for acquiring new customers. Whether in-market car shoppers find you on Cars.com or through your own website and business profiles, you have to make a good first impression with star ratings and recent reviews that vouch for your store.
But building a trusted reputation isn’t about the number of reviews you amass — it’s what they say about your customer experience. The stories your customers tell about your business can be its most powerful differentiator in standing out from the crowd.
That’s why our platform empowers you to build and showcase your reputation, at both the store and employee level, to turn more shoppers into happy customers (and loyal fans). Get started with these six steps to take your online reputation to the next level.
1. Discover what your stars are made of
Many top-rated teams use reviews as a real-time focus group on their customer experience, gaining valuable insight into which parts of their process and approach are working well, and which need attention. But reading a sample size of recent reviews isn’t a scientific method for understanding how you’re perceived.
That’s why we created The Experience Report which breaks down your reviews by how they compare to your market and OEM averages, and by how your customers feel about key aspects of your experience: from lead follow-up to transparent financing.
If you’re subscribed to the Cars.com marketplace, you can access these valuable insights that measure how your customer experience is trending over time and against your competition in your Cars.com Dealer Dashboard. Not with Cars.com? We have you covered too. Just tap the button below to request your store’s Experience Report, and someone from our team will get it to you.
2. Build and balance your reputation
Once you’re confident that your team is consistently delivering a 5-star experience to every customer — you need to be actively working to generate more positive reviews so your store becomes the obvious local choice to buy, sell, or service a vehicle.
Tried and tested tactics like postcards on your team’s desks, QR codes in the showroom, and follow-up text and email messages will work together to ensure your store receives steady fresh reviews.
The best retailers don’t just focus review generation on one platform, though. They take steps to have their customers spread the word across Google, Cars.com, Facebook, and more so those stories will be discovered everywhere car shoppers search.
Generating new reviews and distributing them across platforms doesn’t have to be a lot of work. Our automated review-building technology, a part of Cars.com Premium Listing packages, reaches out to your sales and service customers daily and asks them to share their stories on the platform that needs them most.
Automated review building case study
Shottenkirk Automotive Group is discovering firsthand how the Cars.com marketplace
enables local retailers to quickly build and showcase their reputation at scale.
This can help your business earn up to 8x more reviews1, while also ensuring your reputation is balanced and discoverable by shoppers everywhere that counts.
3. Showcase your stars
Your customers’ positive stories about their experience with you are powerful, not just to other shoppers actively searching for your reviews, but also to your website visitors who may not have discovered them yet.
By showcasing your reviews and ratings in highly trafficked areas on your website, you can make it easy for shoppers to choose you without ever having to leave your site.
Incorporating quotes from your positive reviews onto your homepage sliders, automatically displaying your latest reviews from different platforms on your website in real-time, and publishing a testimonials page that features your top reviews all work together to provide a more engaging and authentic shopping experience for your visitors.
Take it a step further to highlight the actual people on your team who play a crucial role in creating a superior customer experience by showcasing their own personal reviews on your Dealer Inspire and Cars.com VDPs.
This allows low-funnel, high-intent car shoppers to choose who they want to work with at your store and make a 1:1 connection with them right from your inventory listings — making them 2.5x more likely to show up and purchase2.
4. Personally respond to reviews every day
Considering only 40% of dealers on average respond to all of their reviews3, those who consistently engage with their reviewers will help build a loyal customer base — giving them an edge over the competition.
That said, it’s sometimes hard to prioritize this activity when your team already has their hands full. But 88% of consumers say they are likely to use a business if they see that the owner responds to reviews4. So, it’s critical you take the time to respond to the feedback you receive.
One way top-rated retailers set their responses apart is by personalizing every message. A few small touches go a long way to show future customers the kind of experience and attention they can expect from your business:
- Mirror back words the customer used or staff members mentioned in their review to show you are listening.
- Tailor each response to the unique experience you shared.
- Sign each response with your name and title.
A personalized response also indicates to potential customers that you’ll follow up and stay engaged with them even after the sale, no matter their buying experience.
5. Don’t ignore negative reviews
You can’t please everyone, and that’s okay. Negative reviews are inevitable for any business, but they don’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, negative reviews can be a great source of customer insight and a chance to improve your customer experience.
The key is to not ignore or avoid negative reviews, but to embrace them and respond to them professionally and empathetically. Dissatisfied customers want to be acknowledged and respected. So, when you reply to their feedback with a sincere apology and a solution, you can turn a negative situation into a positive one.
Remember, consumers are more than twice as likely to consider your business if they can see you actively responding to reviews5 — a good reason to automate your responses. In fact, 53% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week6. Your quick, personalized response matters to both your current and future customers.
6. Use your reviews for star-powered promotions
The automotive retail industry is no stranger to uncertainty and change. But even when market conditions present retailers and consumers with unique challenges, marketing your five-star reputation can fuel your business no matter how your local market is behaving.
You can get started with a campaign targeted to shoppers that incorporates the valuable user-generated content from your reviews. Take a positive and uplifting quote from a review left by one of your customers, and use that messaging across search, social, display, and video advertising channels.
When you partner with Cars Commerce, you’re able to target your campaign to the Cars.com in-market audience of car shoppers across channels and devices. Your experience-based messaging will shift shoppers’ attention from problems to solutions by showing your local audience how your dealership will help them overcome their stress and anxiety with your service that’s built on relationships, trust, and the proof of happy customers.
As customers choose your store based on your reputation, they’ll be primed to leave a review of their own that will influence future customers, and may even become a part of your next marketing campaign.
We want your stars to shine bright
It’s easy to see how a well-nurtured online reputation sets your business apart. By showcasing the unique customer service experience you provide everywhere that matters, you’ll increase trust and loyalty for your brand — and gain higher lead conversion.
If you need help getting started, our team at Cars Commerce is here to support you. Let’s talk about how your we can help your stars shine brightest today.
Online Reputation Best Practices
- Based on review volume of 1,182 ReviewBuilder™ customers between August 1, 2022 – January 31, 2023 ↩︎
- Based on Cars.com VDP lead submissions between January 2019 – February 2020 ↩︎
- Cars Commerce Analysis, January 2023 ↩︎
- BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey February 2023 ↩︎
- BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey February 2023 ↩︎
- Online Reviews Statistics and Trends: A 2022 Report by ReviewTrackers ↩︎