21st Century Word of Mouth
Amy has just graduated from college and she is looking to buy a pre-owned BMW but, she has no idea which model or where she should go to purchase it. She posts on her Facebook page that she is looking for a car and asks her friends if they know which she should buy and from where. Her friend Mike comments; “You’d look sweet in a 3 Series”. Many of her other friends leave similar comments and she is steered toward that model. But, the question still remains as to where she should procure the car. As she has the habit of doing with Spring Break Vacations and buying anniversary dinner gift certificates for her parents she then heads to Google to search for good options. She creates a Google search with the following information in the search box; “Pre-Owned BMW reviews”. Amy represents one of the 88% of consumers these days who search on line prior to ever calling a dealership and that % is growing every day.
Bill has just started a landscaping business and his partner suggests they buy a pick up rather than a dump bed. Because time is money to him now, he researches on-line to find it. He too visits Google. During his search he notices a listing for a dealer at the top of the search page that includes the word “reviews” in its listing. He clicks into the information and reads what others have had to say about interacting with this business. He calls and made an appointment with that one store and buys the truck. After delivery he goes back to the web and posts his review outlining his experience.
Mary is expecting a child and needs a minivan or midsized SUV. Because it’s easier than driving around to different businesses over the weekend, Mary tweets out her need and gets involved in a long conversation thread filled with suggestions from her friends and family. With so many suggestions she gets confused and resorts back to how she found all the baby supplies, furniture and other amenities she will need for her soon to be arriving child. She goes to Google to find out what others in her same situation had to say. As with Bill from the above example, she finds what she feels would work for her but, two dealerships seem to have the near exact Honda Pilot. However, one of these dealers has reviews listed on their Facebook and Web page and the other does not. Feeling more comfortable after having read the reviews posted she calls and arranges time to visit the one with the reviews. The feeling of comfort Mary gains from reading about other customers experiences outweighs even the advice from her sister, girlfriends and neighbors.
In each case the first thing these folks did was talk about it. Odds are that most of if not all of that conversation will take place on Facebook or Twitter. They each involve themselves in consumer behavior which entails reading reviews. Amy, Bill, and Mary engage in 21st Century word of mouth.
The meteoric rise and growth of web sites such as Angie’s List, Trip Adviser and Rate My Professor indicate the growing number of those in our country who value user reviews. Relaying personal experiences is not a trend; it has become common place. Smart, innovative businesses who seek long-term growth are keen to pay attention to these reviews and in many cases use them to shape improvements in products which best fit the trends they observe in what consumers have to say. Bottom line, if you are not paying attention to what is being said about your business on the web than you are not doing all you can to succeed. It’s that cut and dry. Those who do will prosper; those who do not will wallow in the way side. You owe it to yourself, your employees and those who depend on your ability to manage your business successfully to pay attention to this news. The hotel, restaurant, academic, technology and franchise car dealership worlds have adopted “review centric” mentalities. It is high time that those in your end of the automotive market do as well.
As mentioned in CBT News in May of this past year: “Consumers are 90 percent more likely to visit a dealer’s website and 5.3 times more likely to convert to a lead after reading positive reviews or seeing an above average rating for that dealer online” Become one of the dealers that has done what it takes to stay current. Recognize that buying trends are evolving and have been riding a tidal wave of change which will not stop. Give yourself and your business all the advantages available and you will be glad you did.
Become one of the dealers that has done what it takes to stay current. Recognize that buying trends are evolving and have been riding a tidal wave of change which will not stop. Give yourself and your business all the advantages available and you will be glad you did.