Who do you trust?

  27 February 2012

Auto retailers are used to being on the front line when it comes to customer satisfaction. For many years now bonus payments have been linked to CSI ratings; more recently some carmakers have taken to publishing how customers rate their dealerships on brand websites.

So, what’s new about Kia’s decision to hand the customer review process over to Reevoo – as revealed in our lead Agenda story?

Well, in the first place, the new and used car buying process has undergone a radical change in the last couple of years. Consumers no longer rely on car magazines or local newspapers for an opinion on what or where to buy; increasingly, they turn to fellow consumers.

According to latest research the purchase experience for car buyers is increasingly ‘social’, with 59% of consumers always or often reading reviews before buying. Just as many holidaymakers turn to TripAdvisor before booking a hotel, many car buyers are looking for reassurance from others before visiting a dealership.

Of course, as TripAdvisor has recently discovered, for the reviews to have any effect, the consumers have to trust and believe they are the genuine opinions of those who’ve purchased. So handing the review process over to a recognised, independent external supplier is a shrewd move.

And that brings me to my second point; this decision puts Kia alongside major brand names such as Tesco, Orange and Sony in responding to shifting consumer behaviour. It suggests a carmaker (at last?) recognising we live and work in a retail environment where the customer is king and will not be dictated to by the preconceived whims of a central marketing department.

It’s also refreshing to report that some auto retailers, including Luscombe Suzuki, are early adopters of Reevoo. Robin Luscombe is an enthusiastic member of Auto Retail Network and writes regularly in our best practice publication, Auto Retail Manager; I hope you read him.

The whole question of how to monitor and moderate customer feedback will be a topic at our Web Workshop seminar on May 3. We’re hoping to have a speaker from Reevoo, so make sure you’re there.

Rupert Saunders

You can tell us your own view on customer reviews. Drop me a line at rupert@auto-retail.com

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