Building Trust, Building Sales and Managing Your Online Reputation

September 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Rob Chesney - Also by this author

As more consumers flock to the Internet to research, find and even purchase vehicles, dealers are finding that managing their online reputation is imperative. Many Internet automotive shoppers purchase a vehicle they have never driven nor seen in person. When considering how much a buyer must rely on the honesty of a seller to give them accurate information about the vehicle, the consumer’s ability to trust the seller becomes vital to closing the deal.

Internet sites are increasingly leading consumers to the actual vehicle they buy. J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Used Study found that the year 2007 marked the first year that Internet use surpassed all other shopping methods in locating the vehicle a buyer ultimately purchases.

There are many ways in which a dealer can begin to build buyer trust online, and it all starts with the listing. When listing a used vehicle online, it is important to use high-quality, professional photographs and well-written descriptions. This helps make consumers confident that what is in a listing is what they will get. Provide complete disclosure; offer potential buyers information about damage large and small. Consumers will expect that most used cars have some imperfections, so don't leave buyers guessing. By being upfront and transparent with listings, dealers create a sense of trust in potential buyers.

J.D. Power and Associates Used Study also discovered that 72 percent of used vehicle Internet shoppers use consumer-generated content in the shopping process, either during or after purchase. Potential buyers consider consumer ratings and reviews the most credible of all resources when researching their next vehicle. eBay Motors recently revamped its Web site, making it easier to find information about the particular vehicle a consumer is seeking. The new site includes a link to member reviews. It’s like having instant access to the largest gathering of car enthusiasts on the Web.

Feedback ratings are another form of consumer-generated content. Consumers consider a seller’s feedback rating a measure of reputation and trustworthiness. Just this year, eBay Motors made a commitment to transforming the way feedback works in order to better serve today's marketplace. Ultimately, the goal is to reinforce trust and transparency while offering needed checks and balances to ensure sellers who provide excellent service will benefit.

Some of these changes that help protect the seller’s feedback rating include a decreased time limit for buyers to leave feedback, strict penalties for non-paying bidders and increased controls for sellers to limit who is allowed to bid on their listings.

The positive feedback percentage is based on feedback from the past 12 months of activity and includes neutral feedback. Those dealers who are able to achieve and maintain a feedback rating of 98 percent or higher are eligible for PowerSeller status. The PowerSeller badge is a testament to a seller’s reputation with consumers because it is completely based on the feedback of past customers.

Finally, the Vehicle Purchase Protection program is the cornerstone of a dealer’s Web site commitment to deliver a good buying and selling experience. Now, buyers of almost any vehicle will be protected for up to $50,000 against losses associated with misrepresentation and fraud; that's more than double the coverage previously provided. Buyers will be enrolled automatically in the program when they complete the purchase of an eligible vehicle on eBay Motors.

In order to make sure that consumers are visiting and bidding on a dealer’s listings, it’s important that dealers invest in managing their online reputation to create more confident buyers.

Vol 5, Issue 8

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