The struggle to strengthen dealerships’ reputations and retain at-risk customers

Client since: November 4, 2016

In the highly competitive automotive market, retaining customers is as difficult as acquiring them — and neither are exactly a piece of cake. Our client needed a deep understanding of their customers in order to keep them, as well as a strong online reputation to stand out to prospects in local search. The solution to both problems? More online reviews. Our client had a customer review strategy in place already, but they weren’t generating the results they needed to have a competitive advantage online.

Oor client had tried several review generation solutions, including one within their CRM that proved to be extremely ineffective. “We’ve been fighting the review battle for years. We went every which way and looked outside the lines to look at ways to generate reviews”. Said the Digital Marketing Director.

“We’ve dramatically improved our online reputation. We have a direct conduit from our customers to us that we’ve never had before letting us know where we can improve our process to boost customer retention and customer experience.”

The company was struggling to get its employees engaged enough to ask customers for reviews in-person. “In automotive, where we have a really terrific Toyota store that sells 400 cars a month, that’s great — that’s 400 opportunities. But if you consider 75% of salespeople won’t ask for reviews, the other 25% will, then only 10% of customers respond, you aren’t getting anything,” our client explains.

Car sales is just a small fraction of our customer interactions. Every month, thousands of customers service their cars at one of their service departments.

Understanding these customers’ experiences is critical to improving customer retention. If they could reach out to customers who had a less-than-great experience, who potentially could leave and never return, our client could increase retention and improve their processes. It was therefore cruical for our client to find a way to get this information.

Automotive right now is hyper focused on service, service retention, and preventing service conquest from non OEM service providers”. “If you can retain a customer, they are 3x more likely to buy another car from you or refer you to somebody else. What I wanted to do was find a way to ask every customer for reviews, including our service customers.” Our client set out to find the easiest, most streamlined solution for soliciting a high volume of online reviews without disrupting the company’s normal workflow. This is what led him to Elite CXS using our Elite CXS system.”

Business Owner
Review generation, monitoring, and management in one dashboard

All digital marketing for all 14 regional dealerships was run by a team of three people. “We run very lean with a full plate”.

To avoid adding any extra work to their hectic schedule, Elite CXS set up a custom integration with our clients existing CRM system that allowed them to send review requests to every customer automatically after a transaction or service. In the automotive market, Google, Facebook and are the most crucial review sites, so these are the sites they prioritize. Elite CXS also sends the team automatic email alerts the instant a new review is posted for one of their locations on a third-party site. The team can monitor all reviews from all sites in one place.

“We have reviews come in every morning and the first thing our social media person does is respond to all of those reviews,”.

Responding to reviews consistently not only helps strengthen customer relationships — it also helps with search ranking. Sites like Google reward businesses with active review profiles; this includes both new reviews and new business responses posted.

“For 5 years we had the practice of just addressing negative reviews, but we’ve changed that. Now we respond to everything,”.

Their social media specialist hand-types “thank you’s” for every positive review, and sends off every negative one to appropriate management, along with a call-to-action and a time-frame to respond. This way no issue slips through the cracks.

Boosting satisfaction with the customer feedback loop

In just one year, our client received 4x more reviews on both Google and, 2.9x more reviews on Facebook, tripled their overall review count on third-party sites, and due to their diligent efforts to address customer issues promptly, the company increased their average star rating across all sites and locations by 1.1 stars. Ratings drive revenue: a 1-star improvement in ratings can lead to a 5-9% increase in revenue, according to Harvard Business Review.

Star ratings from all these reviews are displayed prominently in organic search results, helping the dealerships stand out, increasing both click-through rates and foot traffic. The custom-branded review micro-sites built by Elite CXS for each dealership received thousands of prospect visits; one dealership, for example, received over 57K prospect visits in less than a year and a half.

Although our client is hyper-focused on review generation, they know that this is just the first step of a comprehensive online reputation management strategy. “One part that we’re really finding valuable is the negative feedback loop, and learning from customers who aren’t 100% happy or times when things could have gone better.”

Before Elite CXS, even at locations awarded the prestigious “Elite” title for their high CSI survey scores, some customers were complaining about having to wait too long for services. “We’re getting all kinds of information to upper level management that we would have never ever gotten before, and we’re finding places where maybe things aren’t going exactly the way we thought.”. “We’re building trust and we’re building relationships that we wouldn’t have had — those people might have turned around and walked away and we’d never have seen them again.”

Drive Growth with Customer Satisfaction

Maintaining a constant line of communication with customers allowed our client to resolve issues promptly and turn frustrating experiences into positive ones. Higher customer satisfaction let all dealerships collect positive testimonials on sites prospective customers care about most. Now, they are doing more than just selling cars: it’s acquiring lifetime customers.