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How Customer Reviews Enrich Attribution Insights

Many automotive dealerships listen solely to CRM data and whatever they can learn from Google Analytics to understand and attribute the factors that influence a customer’s purchase decision. Both tools provide a limited perspective. And CRM data is vulnerable to error (e.g., a salesperson inputs data incorrectly or incompletely). To get a more complete picture of shopper behavior, dealerships should mine the data that customers share with you in the form of reviews.

Listen to Your Customers

About eight out of 10 shoppers use online car reviews and car dealership reviews. Smart dealers solicit reviews, listen to them, and manage them like valuable assets – not only because reviews literally represent the voice of the customer, they also track customer behavior.

Think about it for a moment. Each time a customer takes time to talk about their experience with your salesperson, they’re providing valuable data on why they made a purchase. They’re giving you documented feedback on the performance of your dealership down to the level of the salesperson they’re interacting with. And since the purchase of a car still involves a handshake between a shopper and a salesperson, reviews are the purest and most valuable form of CRM data any dealer could hope to have.

Reviews also tell you something about the entire customer experience beyond the product they bought. A great product is merely the price of entry today. Customer experience is where relationships are created or lost. In fact, the ability to provide a great end-to-end experience is the single-biggest reason that customers write five-star reviews of dealerships.

Your Lifeblood

Reviews are the lifeblood of every business ranging from home service to healthcare. Angie’s List and TripAdvisor have built entire businesses based on the value of customer reviews. Why? The answer goes beyond the fact that reviews provide feedback on the businesses that participate in those marketplaces. Reviews provide a snapshot of the behavior of each customer. For example:

  • What problem did the customer want to solve or need did they want to meet?
  • How and why did they choose the business they chose?
  • What was the outcome?

Customer reviews, when engineered correctly, answer all those questions and more.

If you are a dealership that really want to understand shopper behavior, I suggest that you:

  • Go beyond your CRM data to get a fuller picture of customer behavior.
  • Start thinking about success differently. Lead data matters. But overall business performance matters more. Focus on growth-related statistics and track indicators such as customer reviews accordingly. A lead represents a potential transaction. Happy customers are the building blocks of business growth.
  • Manage customer reviews. Have a program in place for soliciting, tracking, responding to, and learning from customer reviews. Use tools that facilitate the creation and management of reviews. Assign someone in your dealership the job of managing reviews year-round, and reward that position well.

The starting point for treating reviews like attribution data is to ask your customers to review you. When you ask consumers for information about themselves, they’ll become suspicious. But when you ask them to give their opinion, they will respond. So start asking. And start learning.

[1]“DealerRater Enhances Salesperson Connect, Features Employee Profiles on Cars.com,” March 21, 2018.

[1]DealerRater, “What Makes a Five-Star Dealership Review?” March 2018, based on a Cars.com/DealerRater analysis of 1.4 million customer reviews from 2017.

The key is attributing these to actual sales. That's a challenge. It's not that easy.
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