How enhanced customer insights drove higher ratings and revenue for O'Brien Auto Group

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O Brien Auto Group 1596970188555
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Company Snapshot

The O'Brien Automotive Group aims to make the automotive buying and ownership experience as easy and as enjoyable as possible. The company has been assisting Pacific Northwest drivers since 1986.

  • Nov 2016
  • 14

Background

In the highly competitive automotive market, retaining customers is as difficult as acquiring them. O’Brien Auto Group needed a deep understanding of their customers in order to keep them, as well as a strong online reputation to stand out to prospects in local search. The solution to both problems? Birdeye. O’Brien Auto Group had a customer review strategy in place already, but they weren’t generating the results they needed to have a competitive advantage online. They also had no way to dig beneath reviews, ratings, customer feedback, and scores to discover what's working, what's not, and where.


O’Brien Auto Group had tried several solutions, including one within their CRM that proved to be extremely ineffective. “We’ve been fighting this battle for years. We went every which way and looked outside the lines to look at ways to generate customer feedback,” said Mark Burshears, Digital Marketing Director at O’Brien Auto Group.

"Birdeye has given us a holistic platform to drive change and growth. The Insight tool helps us looks at common themes and commonalities between locations, allowing us to take data-driven actions. The biggest benefit has been that we have been able to hear concerns and address those with solutions. Birdeye allows us to listen to the voice of customers and make changes at the dealership level to improve customer experiences."

Mariam Ketner

Director of Social & Digital Media AT O’BRIEN AUTO GROUP

Mariam Ketner, Director of Social & Digital Media AT O’BRIEN AUTO GROUP

The Challenge

The company was struggling to get its employees engaged enough to ask customers for reviews in-person. “In automotive, where we have a really terrific Toyota store that sells 400 cars a month, that’s great -- that’s 400 opportunities. But if you consider 75% of salespeople won’t ask for reviews, the other 25% will, then only 10% of customers respond, you aren’t getting anything,” Burshears explains.


Car sales are just a small fraction of O’Brien Auto Group’s customer interactions. Every month, thousands of customers service their cars at one of their service departments. Understanding these customers’ experiences is critical to improving customer retention. If they could reach out to customers who had a less-than-great experience, who potentially could leave and never return, O'Brien Auto could increase retention and improve their processes. It was therefore cruical for O’Brien Auto Group to find a way to get this information.


Automotive right now is hyper focused on service, service retention, and preventing service conquest from non OEM service providers,” said Burshears. “If you can retain a customer, they are 3x more likely to buy another car from you or refer you to somebody else.”

Customer Image

“What I wanted to do was find a way to ask every customer for reviews, including our service customers.” Burshears set out to find the easiest, most streamlined solution for soliciting a high volume of online reviews and feedback without disrupting the company’s normal workflow. This is what led him to Birdeye.

The Solution: automatically collect and manage feedback from one dashboard

All digital marketing for all 14 regional dealerships was run by a team of three people. “We run very lean with a full plate” said Burshears.


To avoid adding any extra work to their hectic schedule, Birdeye set up a custom integration with O’Brien Auto Group’s existing CRM, DealerSocket, that allows O’Brien to send review requests to every customer automatically after a transaction or service. In the automotive market, Google, Facebook and Cars.com are the most crucial review sites, so these are the sites O’Brien Auto Group prioritizes. Birdeye also sends Burshears and his team automatic email alerts the instant any customer leaves a review or gives feedback. The team can monitor all reviews from all sites in one place.


“We have reviews come in every morning and the first thing our social media person does is respond to all of those reviews,” said Burshears.

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Responding to reviews consistently not only helps strengthen customer relationships -- it also helps with search ranking. Sites like Google reward businesses with active review profiles; this includes both new reviews and new business responses posted.

“For 5 years we had the practice of just addressing negative reviews, but we’ve changed that. Now we respond to everything,” said Burshears.

Their social media specialist hand-types “thank you’s” for every positive review, and sends off every negative one to appropriate management, along with a call-to-action and a timeframe to respond. This way no issue slips through the cracks.

Boosting satisfaction with the customer feedback loop

In just one year, O’Brien Auto Group received 4x more reviews on both Google and Cars.com, 2.9x more reviews on Facebook, tripled their overall review count on third-party sites, and due to their diligent efforts to address customer issues promptly, the company increased their average star rating across all sites and locations by 1.1 stars. Ratings drive revenue: a 1-star improvement in ratings can lead to a 5-9% increase in revenue, according to Harvard Business Review.
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Star ratings from all these reviews are displayed prominently in organic search results, helping O’Brien’s dealerships stand out, increasing both click-through rates and foot traffic. The custom-branded review microsites built by Birdeye for each dealership received thousands of prospect visits; Toyota of Kirkland, for example, received over 57K prospect visits in less than a year and a half.
Google Reviews

Although O’Brien Auto Group is hyper-focused on review generation, Burshears knows that this is just the first step of a comprehensive online reputation management strategy. “One part that we’re really finding valuable is the negative feedback loop, and learning from customers who aren’t 100% happy or times when things could have gone better.”

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Before Birdeye, even at locations awarded the prestigious “Elite” title for their high CSI survey scores, some O'Brien's customers were complaining about having to wait too long for services. “We’re getting all kinds of information to upper level management that we would have never ever gotten before, and we’re finding places where maybe things aren’t going exactly the way we thought,” said Burshears. “We’re building trust and we’re building relationships that we wouldn’t have had - those people might have turned around and walked away and we’d never have seen them again.”


Maintaining a constant line of communication with customers allowed O’Brien Auto to resolve issues promptly and turn frustrating experiences into positive ones. Higher customer satisfaction let all dealerships collect positive testimonials on sites prospective customers care about most. Now, O’Brien Auto Group is doing more than just selling cars: it’s acquiring lifetime customers.

“We’ve dramatically improved our online reputation. We have a direct conduit from our customers to us that we’ve never had before letting us know where we can improve our process to boost customer retention and customer experience.”

MARK BURSHEARS

DIGITAL MARKETING DIRECTOR AT O’BRIEN AUTO GROUP

MARK BURSHEARS,  DIGITAL MARKETING DIRECTOR AT O’BRIEN AUTO GROUP

Birdeye: The Obvious Choice

Winning over 400 awards for 10 quarters in a row, Birdeye is the most-awarded and highest-rated customer experience software for businesses of all sizes.

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