Tess Karesky
| 9 July 2017

Creating a Better Customer Experience

In an ideal world, we would know exactly the kind of experience customers want when they step onto a dealer’s lot. Customer reviews provide a valuable insight into understanding what people like and dislike about the dealership experience. Positive reviews let us know what’s being done right and should be continued. Negative reviews let us know what needs to be fixed. Unfortunately, a handful of individual reviews might not be enough to paint a picture of what most customers want, and a significant number of reviews is difficult to sift through. While review monitoring is important, it can be challenging to draw larger conclusions. So how do we use this valuable resource? Where the human brain might be lacking, technology can step in. CDK’s data scientists devised a way to harness the power of reviews so we can better understand what matters to customers. To do this, we gathered 64,000 customer reviews and fed them into our natural language processing tool. This is a program we have used before to identify more impactful email response words and better vehicle descriptions. This time we used it to find out how men and women describe their experiences differently. The reviews were split by service and sales, then by positive and negative, and finally by gender. We then found the words most commonly used by men or women. This gave us a more comprehensive picture of the wants and expectations of these two groups.

As we suspected, there are notable differences in the way women and men talk about their dealership experiences. While they have a lot in common, like wanting a fair price and helpful staff, there are significant differences in the major influencers at the dealership. Men focused much more on the product itself, while women focused more on their interactions with the staff. Because of this — and the fact that the reviews reinforced the notion that dealers struggle with women — we decided to focus on what their reviews can tell us. Here are the top three takeaways: Once you combine your data sets, you have a lot of relevant information you can use to advertise to potential customers on Facebook. Pair that with your dealership website analytics and you can create different advertising campaigns with differentiated messaging for shoppers in each stage of the cycle. Think about the data you have and how you can leverage it to target different types of customers: for instance, use Facebook retargeting to keep your brand and inventory in front of those who have already visited your website or target ads to your past customers whose lease is about to end with an offer for a new vehicle. Often, ads are seen as an annoyance, but when relevant messages are served up in their feeds, they’re seen as helpful instead of a hindrance.

1. Build a relationship It’s no secret that women are wary of dealerships. Some of the most common terms used by women were “stress”, “panic”, and “overwhelmed”. These words appeared in positive reviews too, implying that this is the state of mind many women are in before they even step on the lot. They’re also worried that their gender will put them at a disadvantage, resulting in poor treatment. It’s the Salesperson or Service Advisor’s job to help put the customer at ease and make them comfortable— even excited— to be at the dealership. To do this, you need to show “compassion”— one of the top terms in positive sales reviews. Take the time to get to know more about the customer. What’s most important to her? Why? Ask questions that give her the opportunity to voice concerns about the process so that you can address them head on. And, of course, make sure you’re really listening to what she says.

2. Empower with knowledge “Unsure” was one of the top words in positive service reviews. Many women voiced concerns about being taken advantage of or treated poorly because of their lack of knowledge about vehicle repair. Taking the time to explain the issue, why it’s important and how it will be addressed goes a long way in building confidence with the customer. Women also appreciate when their service center “continuously” checked in throughout the process. Giving customers updates is another way to alleviate concerns and makes it easier to plan around picking up the vehicle.


3. Provide a welcoming environment Women revealed a particular attention to detail around the dealership environment. In service reviews, women commonly noted clean restrooms and drink options like “coffee and tea.” In both sales and service, women noted “smiles” from the staff— even the ones they weren’t working with. This is all about creating a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere. Take pride in your amenities and promote them to your customers. If you have a child-friendly area, be sure to point that out to your sales customers who might need to return with children or even grandchildren. Amenities and environment are a major way dealers can outshine service chains, and it’s clearly something that matters to women.


There are numerous benefits to creating a better customer experience. It turns sales customers into service customers, brings in repeat business and leads to customer promotion through reviews and word-of-mouth. For women, a positive experience means interacting with staff members who take the time to listen and ask good questions, being empowered with knowledge to better understand the process, and a doing it all in a welcoming environment.

Tess Karesky
Tess Karesky

Tess Karesky is a Marketing Research Specialist at CDK Global providing insights and thought leadership to drive the industry forward. She has researched the behaviors and habits of Millennial, luxury, Hispanic and female shoppers, in addition to other consumer groups. Her findings include insights into optimizing web content, reputation, advertising, sales and service experience, and customer retention. Her research has been presented to automotive executives at Lexus, Audi, Nissan, Infiniti and GM, as well as industry events including the Driving Sales Most Valuable Insight award. She feels strongly in the value of quality, engaging research that provides actionable insights. She can be reached at