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The importance of online customer reviews, guest opinion

Paul Turner, APD Global Research executive chairman

Online customer service reviews are now becoming an integral part of the buying experience for consumers.

Whether they are buying holidays, cars, a pair of shoes or a meal in a restaurant, retailers are coming under increased scrutiny from consumers as they look to make their buying decision.

That decision is often made just on the last dozen reviews that have been uploaded online and generally if reviews are positive then the consumer will make that buying decision safe in the knowledge they have gained ‘human approval’

Many dealers, brokers, leasing and finance companies are either running their own in-house customer satisfaction surveys, or they have no service review process in place.

Either way, both camps are missing out according to a survey by Podium which said the 93% of consumers say that online reviews have an impact on their purchasing decision.

For some sectors, those companies who aren’t making their customer service visible to the outside world are losing out which is why our recent partnership with Feefo is so exciting.

It gives companies an option to achieve greater visibility of their service excellence to the outside world by re-using data from existing surveys.

Driver reviews that record satisfaction, recommendation and retention levels across all elements of the sales and ownership experience can now be turned into a five-star customer experience rating.

No names are published thus ensuring companies adhere to strict GDPR regulations. Importantly by sharing your customer reviews in the online space via your website provides powerful search engine benefits.

When choosing your reviews supplier, it’s important to understand the potential reach of posting reviews online.

Our partner for instance has strong relationships with the Bing, Yahoo and Google search engines where each review is immediately registered with them when it reaches your website.

More quality direct traffic being sent to a company’s website pushes their site higher up the search engine rankings, giving greater online visibility which translates into more enquiries, more sales and more revenue.

In its most recent Car Buyer Journey study, Cox Automotive found that consumers spend 61% of their time researching and shopping online for a new car, rising to 63% for a used car.

So, anything that helps grow your online reach and your volume of click throughs to your website has got to be good news for OEMs, dealer groups and online car brokers.

Another consideration is retaining control of your own customer feedback.

All the main online review companies post a customer review directly onto your website. There is no pre-posting review stage which means the outside world gets to see that review, however good or bad, at the same time as you.

We believe it’s healthy to be able to have visibility of and proactively manage your customer feedback before it goes live online. You must stay in control of this process.

Depending on whether you are a dealer, broker or OEM, you will be looking to measuring different things. Understanding what you want to measure and its overall benefit to the business must be a major part of setting up and delivering any customer experience programme.

That’s the same with online reviews – make sure you think long and hard about what areas of your customer service you want to share and what will be most valuable in promoting your brand.

Author: Paul Turner, APD Global Research executive chairman

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