AutoNation: Automotive CX Success Story

1 M

5-Star reviews achieved in June 2023

122 K+

Total reviews responded to in 2020

> 6.3 K

AutoNation staff man-hours saved since partnering with Reputation

148 %

AutoNation’s return on investment since partnering with Reputation

How AutoNation Leverages Reviews to Build Customer Trust and Drive Platform Adoption

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, AutoNation excels at being an industry leader for automotive customer experience in the United States. With more than 300 locations spread across 18 states (and growing!), AutoNation has sold or serviced vehicles to more than 13 million customers. The company calls its more than 22,000 associates its “greatest assets” and notes that “ What drives you, drives Us,” placing prime emphasis on the customer experience and the person-to-person interactions that drive every part of the business forward.

Hitting Review Milestones

As a top brand connecting stores, facilities, and associates from coast to coast, AutoNation is a very online-centric business. They rely on digital channels to reach current and potential customers as well as help manage the day-to-day operations of its locations. As such, the company is very cognizant of the value of online reviews, particularly in attracting new customers and business.

AutoNation launched its partnership with Reputation in 2012 when it first adopted the company’s Reviews product. Reviews enabled AutoNation to continue to utilize the word-of-mouth advertising and marketing it had been getting from happy customers. But now they were able to share this positive customer sentiment online at a much bigger scale, helping the company win over anxious customers who may not have had experience with the brand.

As a result, AutoNation’s review volume exploded — to the point that it deepened its partnership with Reputation to have Reputation automate and manage responding to each review the company receives, which has freed up time for AutoNation to dive deeper into its processes.

120 +

Locations have improved their RepScore or have become more engaged since partnering with Reputation

98 %

Of all reviews were responded to in 2020

More recently, AutoNation placed focus on educating their dealerships on the ease of use of the Reputation app for maintaining their online reputation. They attribute the success they’ve seen this year so far to the following 3 initiatives:

As a result of these initiatives, in June 2023, AutoNation was able to achieve a major milestone: 1 Million 5-Star Reviews. This is a testament to the company’s commitment to providing excellent customer service and to its use of the Reputation platform!

Leveraging Insights

Along with garnering more reviews, the Reviews product also gave the company an opportunity to audit how it was doing as a business. The locations that consistently received good reviews could share best practices with other locations, such as sending car service diagnosis videos to customers so they could see what needs to be done for themselves.

If someone comes in for service, you leave your car and don’t know what’s really going on with it. We’ll have one of our technicians take a video of what’s going on with your car and send it to you, and people love it! We’ve gotten a lot of great reviews from it, so we’ve taken it to other dealerships.” 

Ashley Dias, Senior Manager of Customer Marketing at AutoNation

On the other hand, through Reviews, AutoNation was able to more readily identify locations that weren’t performing up to expectations and offer recommendations. While these suggestions for performance improvement may be more basic and general at other companies, AutoNation takes a much more detailed, hands-on approach. 

“For locations with a lower review sentiment, I have implemented a process where our team will have one on one deep dive sessions with tips on how to improve the customer experience and provide additional support should a location need it,” says Dias. “For each component of their score, our teams will break it down so the location’s leadership understands each component of their calculated score, how they compare to their market and peer groups, and how they can improve specific metrics. Over 120 locations have improved their scores or have increased their engagement with the Reputation tool.”

Fostering Adoption

Education and adoption are key elements for AutoNation’s team as they continue to strive to deliver a peerless customer experience. All of AutoNation’s retail locations use Reputation and are supported in doing so from the top of the organization down. In fact, each location’s use of the Reputation platform is entirely paid for by AutoNation’s corporate arm and evangelized by the company’s C-suite, so there are no barriers to adoption or utilization. 

The scorecards Dias sends out have helped, too. Since launching her scorecard program, which adds gamification and competitions to Reputation score management, Dias estimates AutoNation has added more than 600 users to the Reputation platform — from the CEO and general managers to sales staff and service providers.

I recommend to any customer-facing employee that they become a user. It’s at the point now where we’ve repurposed our sales leaderboard to reflect individual locations’ Reputation score. People will email me on the weekends saying that their score isn’t accurate. Gamifying it has made a big difference.”

Ashley Dias, Senior Manager of Customer Marketing at AutoNation

To help cement this ongoing participation and utilization, Dias created the 900 Award to recognize AutoNation locations that have reached a milestone Reputation score of 900 on a scale of 0 to 1,000, which can be considered “best in class” in a given industry. If a dealership hits 900, they’re sent the first piece of a magnet to display and show off for two months; if the dealership maintains its 900 score for another four months, they’re sent another magnet piece, and if they hit another six at 900, they’re sent the final magnet piece which completes the award. 

“I made the 900 Award to congratulate teams not only for hitting 900, but for maintaining a score of 900,” says Dias. “The point of the award is that it grows for a year. Our teams have been working really hard — they deserve the recognition and all of the praise.”

148 %

AutoNation’s return on investment 148% since partnering with Reputation

What’s Next?

Thanks to its positive partnership with Reputation, AutoNation has since added on many of the Reputation platform’s products, including Surveys, Inbox, and Competitive Intelligence (CI). CI, in particular, will be an area of focus for AutoNation and excitement for Dias within the highly competitive automotive industry. 

The strategy is already paying dividends. After becoming and maintaining its presence as the leading public auto group in the United States for many years, AutoNation lost that title and was displaced to third place in 2021. The company set goals to get to second place by mid- 2022, but thanks to its partnership with Reputation and the innovative strategies AutoNation has put in place, the company is already back in first place.

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