Cars.com Experience Report Reveals Top Automakers with the Best Reputation
In today’s digital age, online reviews play a significant role in influencing consumer decisions. When it comes to buying a car, consumers heavily rely on these reviews to guide their choices. Understanding the importance of dealership engagement in building auto brand reputation, Cars.com Inc. (NYSE: CARS), also known as Cars Commerce, conducted a comprehensive Experience Report analyzing consumer reviews on its marketplace about dealerships nationwide.
The findings from the Experience Report provide valuable insights into the automotive brands that have the best reputation amongst consumers. With over 13 million consumer-submitted reviews on Cars.com, the report highlights both strong and underperforming areas that impact a dealership’s reputation.
According to Jamie Oldershaw, the Vice President of Reputation at Cars Commerce, more than 75% of shoppers on Cars.com are undecided on make and model. In such scenarios, a standout customer experience and stellar reputation can be the tipping point for consumers. The report aims to help individuals make informed choices by providing data-driven insights on the strengths and gaps in the retail experience at various brands and dealership groups.
The top automotive brands that emerged with the highest overall review ratings from consumers over a 24-month period include Mazda, Subaru, Acura, Lexus, and Volvo among luxury brands. These brands have local retailers across the country that cater to the rapidly evolving needs of consumers and deliver exceptional car-buying experiences.
The report also delves into six critical categories that significantly impact a brand’s overall rating, namely pricing transparency, trade-in experience, transaction speed, financing experience, review responsiveness, and vehicle inquiry responsiveness.
Affordability and pricing transparency influence 53% of car shoppers. Brands like Mini and Mitsubishi lead the mass-market category in this aspect, while Porsche takes the top spot in the luxury segment. Meanwhile, trade-in experience plays a vital role for 50% of car shoppers planning to trade in their vehicles. Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, and Volvo are some of the brands recognized for delivering a positive trade-in experience.
Transaction speed and efficiency are crucial in ensuring a quality customer experience. Chevrolet, GMC, Mini, and Subaru stand out in the mass-market segment for their quick and seamless transactions, while Acura, BMW, Porsche, and Volvo excel in the luxury segment.
Given that 44% of car shoppers plan to get financing in person at the dealership, a positive financing experience becomes essential. Several brands perform well in this category, including Buick, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Honda, Jeep, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and Volkswagen in the mass-market segment, and Acura, Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Genesis, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo in the luxury category.
Review responsiveness is an area where dealerships can improve. While only 40% of dealers respond to all reviews, 88% of consumers are more inclined to engage with businesses that actively respond to reviews. Honda and Toyota are the leading brands in this regard, both for mass-market and luxury brands. Similarly, swiftly responding to customer inquiries about specific vehicles is crucial for securing sales. Mini leads the response category in the mass-market segment, while Alfa Romeo stands out among luxury brands.
The power of reputation in automotive retail is undeniable, as reviews serve as a vital feedback mechanism that not only reflects consumer sentiment but also guides improvements in customer service.
The Cars.com Experience Report goes beyond measuring consumer satisfaction. It is an analytical tool that breaks down ratings across various aspects of the dealership experience. Recent reviews hold more weight in the report, with those receiving fewer than five reviews in a 24-month span marked as “Not Yet Rated.” The report also includes metrics like review response rates and lead response quality, with a focus on financing, trade-in, and price transparency across review platforms on Cars.com, DealerRater, Google, and Facebook.
Cars.com offers innovative solutions like ReviewBuilder and AutoResponse to help dealerships improve their reputation. These cutting-edge tools help amplify review volume and quality, ensuring that reputations remain current and compelling across all relevant platforms.
The Cars Commerce platform simplifies the car-buying and selling process. It includes the flagship automotive marketplace and dealer reputation site, Cars.com, along with digital marketing technology and services from Dealer Inspire, industry-leading trade-in and appraisal technology from Accu-Trade, an exclusive in-market media network, and powerful AI technologies that enhance retail operations.
The Cars.com Experience Report highlights the crucial role dealership engagement plays in building auto brand reputation. It emphasizes the significance of reviews as a feedback mechanism and a guiding force for customer service improvements. By leveraging the insights from the report, both consumers and dealerships can make more informed decisions, ensuring exceptional car-buying experiences.