Dealers would be wise to reach into their customer satisfaction surveys for consumer comments to post as reviews on their Web sites, says an analyst for Maritz Research.
Why? Because a significant number of shoppers distrust reviews at other sites. In a recent study of 3,404 consumers, Maritz found that 41 percent hadn't gone to a traditional third-party review site, automotive or nonautomotive, in more than two years.
One in four who had gone to a site said they distrusted the reviews they read, concluding they were "unfair" — either overly negative or overly positive, said Maritz Vice President David Ensing. They also said they could tell when reviews were phony.
The respondents were asked about 13 review sites, including Google+, in the automotive, hospitality and restaurant industries. The two automotive sites were Edmunds.com and DealerRater.
Customer satisfaction index, or CSI, surveys ask customers who bought a vehicle or received service to fill out a questionnaire about their experience. The surveys are used by stores and automakers to monitor how well dealerships serve customers.
Ensing said CSI surveys could ask specifically for comments and for respondents to rate their experience on a numerical scale as many review site do today, including Google and TripAdvisor.
By reposting those comments, with customer permission, on the dealership Web site, dealers could give online visitors some assurance that the reviews were from real customers, Ensing said.
The dealerships should post all comments, rather than a selection, to preserve the integrity of the data, he said. "The vast majority of good dealerships would get mostly good comments with a few negatives mixed in," Ensing said.
Such postings also would mitigate the problem of reviews going stale, he said. The CSI comments would provide a steady flow of fresh comments, adding to their value to consumers, he said.
Third-party review sites in the automotive sector were much less frequented generally than those in the hospitality and restaurant industries, the study showed.