Customer reviews have become a first stop for today’s savvy shoppers. Online reviews exist for everything from the quality of electronics and computer accessories to which linens are best for a guest room. While the glut of customer reviews can be overwhelming, they illustrate how much stock people put into reviews and how important they can be for any company.
Reviews may be commonplace now, but before the Internet they were harder to come by. Consumer advocacy phone lines, magazines like ‘Consumer Reports’ and old-fashioned word of mouth supplied much – if not all – of the reviews people relied on before making a big purchase. Since there was no way for consumers to effectively communicate directly, businesses did what they could to spin articles and published reviews to their advantage and marketing was focused primarily on appearances.
Today, of course, that has all changed since people can now post reviews on social media, video sharing sites and, of course, directly to many review-based websites like Angie’s List or Yelp. As a result, companies today not only understand the power of customer reviews – they do everything they can to encourage feedback from customers and to use those reviews to improve their services.
Ratings and Reviews of Industry Vendors
For an industry like auto sales, reviews go beyond fielding customer complaints and promoting positive reviews of dealers. Dealerships too are customers for dozens of automotive vendors at any given time, who can use their own voice not only to help out other dealers considering certain vendors, but also to hold vendors accountable. This kind of collaborative, community-based approach does more than simply connect dealerships, it can improve the auto industry as a whole.
So where can dealers go to to rate and write reviews on vendors in an authentic way?
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While our very own Dealer Forums here on DealerRefresh have been a mainstay for thousands of dealers over the years to collaborate online about their experiences with vendors, the only place I can think of where dealers can formally rate and review vendors is DrivingSales.com, which has a dedicated section on its website with more than 1,000 vendors and 32,000 reviews.
Working collaboratively with competitors to share insights, reviews, and tips may seem counter-intuitive at first but working with your competitors does offer a number of benefits.
First, it creates mentors in the industry.
Sharing knowledge isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a sign that you are secure enough in your own experience to lend a helping hand to others who may be still finding their feet in your industry. Mentors in the world of auto sales are more important than ever, considering the rapidly changing landscape and technologies.
Secondly, it expands and improves your professional network.
From simply making connections with other dealers and personnel to being in the know when it comes to exceptional vendors – or warnings on who you should steer clear.
Finally – and perhaps most importantly – you get what you give.
By sharing information and being an active participant in a community of industry experts, you’re more likely to hear about new technologies, emerging best practices and innovative ways to win – and retain – customers.
The rise of online customer reviews over the past 20 years has driven home just how important a company’s reputation is – and how easily public opinion can impact a business’ bottom line. It has also shown how important reviews and sharing information can be for the community in an industry such as automotive.
In addition to being a valuable resource for all, the lessons learned from customer reviews can fuel the future of our niche in this industry.