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Unprecedented review numbers speak clearly to the dominance of digital, the staying power of personal connection, and the emerging value of adaptability in creating a best-in-class customer experience
WALTHAM, Mass., Feb. 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- DealerRater, a leading car-dealer review and reputation management platform and company of Cars.com Inc. (NYSE: CARS), today announced that 979 local dealerships will be honored in DealerRater's annual Dealer of the Year Awards (DOTY). Winning dealerships from across the U.S. and Canada are selected based on more than 1.1 million online reviews and ratings submitted by car shoppers across a record 18,600 dealerships in 2021.
"DealerRater gave voice to a record-breaking 1.1 million car shoppers last year and affirmed loud and clear that despite everything that's changed about the way cars are bought and sold, the expectations remain high for a flawless experience," said Jamie Oldershaw, general manager of DealerRater. "Exceptional customer service is still what customers want and what dealerships must deliver whether online or on the lot. This year more than ever, the Dealer of the Year Awards highlight dealerships that are adapting quickly and seamlessly to a new car-shopping landscape and earning the appreciation of their customers."
In a new category this year, the Dealer of the Year Awards also recognized eight regional winners for standout evaluations for customer service, quality of work, friendliness, pricing and overall experience.
How the Digital, Online and Virtual Car-Shopping Generation Defines Customer Satisfaction
Top-reviewed dealers engage in digital-first services. The Dealer of the Year Awards demonstrate the value car shoppers place on dealers' adaptability to provide the very best service even when the industry is challenged by inventory shortages and increased car prices.
Home delivery and virtual appointments were powerful drivers of positive reviews. Winning dealers that offered these services scored on average a 97% positive review rate, nearly 5 percentage points higher than dealers without.1
Employees' digital engagement at dealerships proved especially critical this past year as car shoppers conducted the bulk of their research and vehicle purchases online; about 91% of winners provide their staff with Employee Profile Pages on DealerRater, which allows car shoppers to ask questions and connect with individual salespeople at a dealership before ever stepping on the lot. More than 92,000 dealership employees received a combined 12.6 million individual ratings on DealerRater last year, underscoring the platform's importance in providing transparency not just around dealership quality, but also staff performance.
Dealers utilizing online tools like LotShot and ReviewBuilder to earn and respond to consumer reviews received over 20% more positive reviews than dealers that did not take advantage of these products and features.
Record-Breaking Levels of Dealer Engagement, Consumer Feedback Create Powerful Flywheel Effect
DealerRater's Dealer of the Year Awards consistently prove that initiating and participating in active conversations with customers creates a feedback loop that lifts performance and scores and correlates to referrals and repeat business. Winning dealers recognize that review volume matters and make review-gathering a team sport for employees.
Additionally, award-winning dealers on average responded to customer reviews over five times more frequently than non-winning dealers.1 Dealers that go above and beyond traditionally respond within 24 hours.
DealerRater Dealer of the Year and Consumer Satisfaction Award Methodology
The DealerRater Dealer of the Year Awards are presented annually to the top U.S. and Canadian car dealers with 25 or more reviews based on categories such as customer service, quality of work, friendliness, pricing and overall experience, key drivers of repeat and referral business. The scoring algorithm considers the dealership's average DealerRater star rating as well as the total number of reviews written about the dealership during the 2021 calendar year.
Consumer Satisfaction Awards are given to the top 10% of U.S. new-car dealers as well as independent and Canadian dealerships that earn at least 25 reviews and maintain a minimum average review rating of 4.0 out of 5.0 during the 2021 calendar year.
1 DealerRater Internal Data, January 2022
DealerRater, a Cars.com company, is a leading car dealer review and reputation management platform that empowers dealerships to efficiently grow their brands by accelerating, automating and amplifying positive review generation across digital channels. By offering a product suite that allows qualified dealerships to manage their digital presence and build and maintain their online reputation, DealerRater helps dealers drive new customer connections every day, achieve higher SEO rankings and, ultimately, generate higher-quality leads that close, faster.
Founded in 2002, DealerRater reviews cover 44,000 U.S. and Canadian dealerships, including a network of more than 5,000 Certified Dealers, that reaches an audience of more than 34 million consumers each month.
CARS is a leading automotive marketplace platform that provides a robust set of industry-specific digital solutions that connect car shoppers with sellers. Launched in 1998 with the flagship marketplace Cars.com and headquartered in Chicago, the Company empowers shoppers with the data, resources, and digital tools needed to make informed buying decisions and seamlessly connect with automotive retailers. In a rapidly changing market, CARS enables dealerships and OEMs with innovative technical solutions and data-driven intelligence to better reach and influence ready-to-buy shoppers, increase inventory turn and gain market share.
In addition to Cars.com, CARS brands include Dealer Inspire, a technology provider building solutions that future-proof dealerships with more efficient operations and connected digital experiences; FUEL, which gives dealers and OEMs the opportunity to harness the untapped power of digital video by leveraging Cars.com's pure audience of in-market car shoppers, and DealerRater, a leading car dealer review and reputation management platform.
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