It’s a Race to the Top: Automotive Brands, Dealers and Dealer Groups Face off in Reputation.com’s 2020 Automotive Reputation Report Preliminary Results
Research Provides Insight into Who’s on Track to Rank Among the Top
NADA SHOW 2020 — Reputation.com, provider of the first and only complete cloud-based enterprise reputation and customer experience management platform, released findings of a preliminary analysis of Automotive OEM brands, dealer groups and 25,000+ dealerships across the U.S., Canada and Europe in its 2020 Automotive Reputation Report. The research indicates that there has been a lot of movement in rankings, ratings and Reputation Score since the 2019 report, which came out in August last year. Some brands and dealerships are ramping up their CX and reputation management efforts, leaving others behind — and it’s a race to the top to see who’ll rank highest when the final report is published in the Fall.
The 2020 Automotive Reputation Report provides dealerships, dealer groups and OEM brands with detailed insights into their strengths and weaknesses, uncovering opportunities for operational improvements based on insights from analyzing unstructured data in customer reviews, surveys and more. It also details recommendations for helping brands and dealerships improve their sales and service performance and raise their Reputation Scores. New this year, the Report takes a look at Canadian and European automotive brands in addition to U.S. brands, for a more global perspective.
“Today, 95% of vehicle buyers use digital sources to conduct car-buying research, and they’re looking to rankings, ratings and reviews to help them decide where to shop for a vehicle,” said Joe Fuca, CEO of Reputation.com. “Successful automotive brands know that in the Feedback Economy, you can’t ignore the importance of online reputation and CX management, and they’re making it a priority in their organizations. Nissan, Subaru and many other leading brands have been working closely with Reputation.com on all aspects of reputation management. Their high performance shows that they’re dedicated to tuning into and listening to customer feedback, then taking necessary action to improve the customer experience — and their effort has resulted in consistently high rankings, year over year.”
As S&P’s Global Ratings Report shows revenue growth declining by about 1.2% year over year, automotive OEMs and dealerships will need to rely more heavily on revenue from fixed operations service centers and used car sales to make up for the decline. Ranking high and showcasing great reviews in local search will be essential for building consumer trust and driving foot traffic. Reputation.com’s Automotive Reputation Report delivers valuable insights brands and dealerships can use to make necessary changes in 2020, to move inventory and grow revenue.
It’s a Race to the Top — and the Bar is High
The report reveals that the Automotive industry as a whole excels at reputation management. Consistent with last year’s findings, the industry outperforms many others, including Retail, Healthcare, Finance and Real Estate, with an average Reputation Score of 603 and average star rating at 4.3. Additionally, making the Top 100 list will be challenging this year for dealerships, as currently, all of the dealerships in the running to rank on the list have Reputation Scores of 880 or higher (on a scale of 0 to 1,000) — 273 points higher than the industry average.
At 65%, average engagement scores are also better than businesses in other industries; however, average response rates to negative reviews are well below the recommended 100% rate at 47%. Review response rates have been correlated to higher customer sentiment scores, as well as higher ratings and Reputation Scores.
In the U.S., Nissan and Lexus continue to hold the top two spots as they did in the 2019 Automotive Reputation Report. These brands score high across all Sales and Service categories. Mitsubishi had the highest average Score of all DACH brands at 650. In the U.K., Toyota had the highest average Reputation Score at 688, closely followed by Hyundai. The top performers in Canada were Lincoln, Ford and Hyundai.
“At Mitsubishi, we take pride in breaking with convention, because that’s how we lead the way to innovation,” said Jens Schulz, General Manager, Mitsubishi Motors Deutschland. “We strive to manage all aspects of our reputation effectively, so we can keep a pulse on customer expectations and ensure we’re not only meeting, but exceeding those expectations consistently. We’re proud to see that nearly a third of our locations have Reputation Scores above 700 — far above the industry average — and that’s a trend we intend to accelerate using Reputation.com platform.”
“We’re thrilled to be a leader in the European Automotive market for CX and Reputation management,” said David Yearby, Head of Ownership Experience at Hyundai Motor UK. “Our consistently high review scores are testimony to the effectiveness of our reputation management program. This has continuously delivered significant advances in dealer engagement and has brought into sharp focus the importance of online reviews as well provided the tools to effectively manage them, thanks to the Reputation.com platform.”
Analysis Looks at Luxury vs. Non-Luxury Brands
As part of the analysis, Reputation.com looked for differences between luxury and non-luxury brands. Overall, luxury brands are performing well: Five of the 13 luxury brands in the study are in the top 10, scoring high in Sales Competence, Sales, Salesperson, Service, Service Competence and Service Advisor. Among non-luxury brands, automakers Subaru and Ford lead the pack for both Sales, while Honda and Buick lead for Service; Acura and Audi top the charts for luxury brands in these categories.
“At Subaru, we’re committed to building vehicles our customers love and providing experiences that fulfill the ‘Love Promise’ pledge featured in our advertising,” said George Dubinsky, National Owner Loyalty Manager at Subaru. “Our ranking and excellent sentiment score in Reputation.com’s report confirms we uphold that promise. Reputation.com’s platform allows us to reliably track and understand customer sentiment with a granularity that helps our Retailers know exactly what’s needed to offer a ‘Love Promise’ experience every day. We’re right on track to rank in the Top Five for both Sales and Service categories, and we plan to concentrate even more on customer feedback throughout the year. Reputation.com is an essential part of that strategy, as it provides unsolicited feedback we can combine with solicited feedback from our surveys to create a holistic view of our customer’s retail experience – not an easy task when looking at over a million-plus pieces of feedback annually! Thank you, Reputation.com, for being an important part of our ‘Voice of the Customer’ strategy.”
Tesla Is Still Struggling with Reputation for Services
Consistent with Reputation.com’s 2019 Report, Tesla is performing poorly this year, with the lowest rate for responding to negative reviews (1%) and the lowest engagement scores (3%) of all brands analyzed. Tesla has the most locations with Reputation Scores under 500, and the lowest number of locations with scores above 700. Consumer sentiment for the Tesla brand is average, at 72%.
According to the findings, Tesla struggles primarily with Services. Aggregating all service categories (Work Quality, Service and Service Advisor), Tesla has scores on average of -2% for sentiment and just 3 stars. Tesla was also rated worst for pricing and speed of service with a score of -11% and 2.9 stars.
New Reputation Score Portal Gives Dealerships Instant Insight and Updates
Reputation.com has launched its Reputation Score Portal, where dealerships can check their Reputation Score at any time with a few clicks. The portal, located here, enables dealerships to see at-a-glance their Reputation Score, their ranking compared to other dealerships and how their performance compares to the industry average.
Measured on a scale of 0 to 1,000, Reputation.com’s Reputation Score is a comprehensive index of the digital presence of business locations in more than 70 industries. It is calculated based on multiple factors measuring overall review sentiment across review sites, business listing accuracy and other indicators that reflect consumers’ car-buying experiences and opinions about dealerships — both online and onsite.