How your dealership can get more 5-star customer reviews online

Five-star reviews.

They’re not quite as rare as sunken treasure – but almost.

And with most shoppers spending much of their time online researching their next vehicle purchases, good reviews and bad can get around quickly.

Especially with websites such as DealerRater, CarGurus, Cars.com and even Kelley Blue Book giving new- and used-vehicle shoppers the chance to provide reviews of their experiences.

Would you purchase a car at a dealership rated four stars if another close-by dealership rated five stars?

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“If shoppers like you, they’re going to tell their family and friends,” said DealerRater. “Customers want to talk about you when you do right by them.”

For example:

“Awesome experience! Would highly recommend to another customer looking to buy a new car without a high pressure sales experience,” wrote the customer of a Tulsa, OK, dealership.

That new-car customer gave the dealership five stars overall as well as for customer service, quality of work, friendliness and pricing, pretty much in line with its 4.9-star average rating from 1,139 reviews posted on DealerRater and 4.9 rating from 1,383 reviews on Cars.com.

So how do you try to ensure your dealership gets more five-star reviews?

053118 IL How your dealership can get more 5-star customer reviews online

DealerRater provides at least some of the answers in a report, What makes a five-star dealership review, which is based on an analysis of 1.4 million reviews of dealerships and salespeople that customers wrote last year on DealerRater.com and Cars.com.

“We discovered some compelling reasons why customers love dealerships – and we identified the main reasons why customers complain about their experiences,” said DealerRater in the report introduction.

Here are the top five reasons DealerRater said customers leave five-star reviews:

  1. The dealership provides a consistently great experience on the lot and in the service lane.

“Customers call out a great buying experience as the second-most important attribute contributing to a five-star review. But great service overall, including an excellent service department, constitutes the most important factor … influencing positive dealership reviews.”

  1. The dealership’s entire staff acts like customer service professionals.

Positive customer reviews single out people, “especially for being friendly, knowledgeable and helpful … [while] providing a stress-free experience goes a long way.”

  1. The process is painless with speed and ease of service throughout the purchase experience.

“Speed and ease of service are essential … Once customers are at the buying stage on the lot, they’re eager to act. They don’t want to wait around completing paperwork.”

  1. Customers feel like they’re getting a deal – but not necessarily the lowest price.

“Price is definitely a topic [about] which shoppers typically have questions and uncertainty. Taking time to explain a price and why it’s the best deal possible for a shopper … will make the difference.”

  1. Dealerships offer hands-on experiences with vehicles.

“When you offer test drives, you look good … The decision to buy a car may come down to two people shaking hands on a lot, but experiencing the vehicle creates the all-important emotional connection.”

The bottom line, according to the DealerRater report, is that “getting a great customer review comes down to acting like a customer service representative.”

So now that you know about the factors that influence customer reviews, DealerRater suggests, “You can step up your game by treating customer reviews as a process that you manage all year round … Reviews are not a necessary evil. They’re the source of differentiation.”

Working on these areas may make a difference in your reviews and your business.

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