Dealers Should Exploit Retail Trends


JudgeService advises dealers to look to retail industry for best practice

The retail industry is home to some of the best practice in boosting the customer experience, with brands such as Asda and John Lewis extending relationship building far beyond the shop floor. So, what can car dealers learn from this to enhance their customer service? Dale Woodley, sales director at leading car dealer review site, JudgeService, offers his advice:

“The world of sales and marketing has undergone unprecedented change over the last few years, with consumers taking more and more ownership of the brands and companies they interact with and purchase from. Although many car dealers are investing significantly in developing their digital marketing strategy, there are still several areas which will become increasingly important in retaining a competitive edge.

“The retail sector remains at the forefront of digital marketing and there are many examples of best practice which dealers can learn from and adapt to fit their marketing needs:

  • Social marketing: Customers are increasingly turning to social media as a way of voicing their problems, concerns and questions so lines between marketing, sales and customer service are becoming more blurred. Dealers need to encourage collaboration between departments, sharing the responsibility to respond to social media comments as needed. Marketing teams can liaise with customers via social media when answering straightforward queries but any more detailed questions or complaints should be taken offline and handed directly to the customer service or sales team. I’m sure we’ve all seen the endless Twitter tirades resulting from an inadequate, unhelpful or insensitive response to a customer complaint. One disgruntled American Airlines customer even penned a song detailing his poor experience turning an easily resolved issue into a negative viral video with almost 14 million views!
  • Extending the customer experience beyond the shop floor: Once a customer enters the showroom, it’s highly likely their journey through the business will have already undertaken a number of stages and the physical visit is often the last in the process. Research from JudgeService[1] shows 65% people only ever visit one dealership, and 95% of people only visit two dealerships. Whether it’s reviewing customer comments about their choice of dealer on social media or checking out what servicing options will be available once they purchase their dream car, opinions will already be formed one way or another before they even step foot on the forecourt.  Dealers need to quite literally think outside the box (or showroom) and consider how to enhance every single customer touch point from their initial web search to the day they get behind the wheel of their chosen vehicle.
  • Converting customers to ‘fans’: Retailers have become skilled at turning their customers into advocates, taking their purchasing decision beyond a transaction and encouraging them to share the experience with their peers. Research from BuildASign[2] shows a 7% increase in website conversion rates when visitors see a ‘feed’ of reviews and as a result you’d now be hard pushed to find a retailer website which doesn’t offer customer reviews and ratings for every product. Add to this research from Nielsen[3] which shows 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above all other advertising and it’s easy to see how tools such as the eBay feedback model are being replicated across many consumer-facing businesses. Loyal customers will not only return but recommend.
  • Rate and review: Customers are likely to take to social media when complaining about poor service or problems, but how many people consider sharing their positive experiences? Through services like JudgeService, customers are proactively contacted for reviews and so more positive reviews can be captured and used as endorsements. On JudgeService, 94% of all customer reviews[4] highly recommend their dealership. A dealer’s website is often the first point of call for customers, so it’s crucial that the online content must excite and reassure them if it’s to generate enquiries and sales opportunities. If a dealer has four dealerships, with 100 visitors to each website every day and one in each of those 100 visitors is convinced to pick up the phone by reading positive reviews, then that’s potentially four leads secured. Reviews shouldn’t be just a ‘nice to have’, but an essential business tool.
  • Keeping it local and personal: The retail world is seeing a shift back to the high street, with many campaigns to support local retailers and producers, while offering personalised services to shoppers. The supermarket sector is a good example of this, with many now moving to stock locally sourced products depending on their location and providing added value convenience offerings such as ‘Click and Collect’ alongside the ever-developing home delivery options. Although you could argue this doesn’t translate directly to the dealer environment, customers still want to see a personal touch to the service they are offered and appreciate the assurance of knowing exactly where to go and who to speak to if and when they require assistance or advice.
  • Customer satisfaction and its impact on the bottom line: It’s no longer adequate to simply make enough sales to record a profit; dealers need to fully understand customer satisfaction and when they may be failing to deliver, how this has a direct impact on their bottom line.
  • Trust, openness, honesty and integrity: However much the digital world alters the way service is delivered, the core values of trust, openness and honesty will always remain central to keeping customer satisfaction levels high. The real trick is in recognising how these translate to the ever-changing customer journey and making best use of them to convert browsers into buyers.

Launched in 2011, JudgeService ( has received over 100,000 reviews and the service is now used by more than 500 leading dealerships. It is the first customer satisfaction index service developed specifically for the used car sector by those working in the industry. It provides dealers with an end to end customer contact and monitoring tool which not only enables groups to assess used car sales and satisfaction across different dealerships, marques and sales teams, but also encourage and promote positive customer testimonials online and via social media.



For more information please contact Carys Samuel or Rebecca Jackson at Acceleris on 0845 456 7251 or email


[1] JudgeService research across 1,007 car buyers, 2013

[2], 2013

[3] Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report, 2012

[4] Research taken from sample of 100,000 customer reviews generated by JudgeService on behalf of dealers, 2013