THE growth in importance of online reviews to used car buyers means warranties are becoming increasingly central to dealer reputation management, according to the RAC Dealer Network.
Sean Kent, RAC sales director at Assurant, the Fortune 500 company which partners with the RAC in this sector, said that the warranty provided with a used car plays a key role in how many post-sales issues are eventually resolved.
He added: “Online reviews can make or break the reputation of a dealer – a fact which, in a highly competitive used car sector, can have a dramatic effect on their business.
“Dealers are therefore becoming much more concerned about how they are perceived through these reviews and are taking their reputation management much more seriously as a whole.
“Part of this process is undoubtedly considering how the warranty experience translates when it is part of an online review created by a customer.
A good warranty experience
“A good warranty experience can really help to underline the dealer’s commitment to customer service and the strength of their overall proposition. A bad warranty experience can have a negative effect. That’s why the warranty is so important in this respect.”
Kent added that the online reviews in which dealers and their customers tended to be most interested were where an issue with a used car had arisen and how it had been handled.
“Any expert in customer behaviour will tell you that someone who has had a problem with a purchase and seen it successfully resolved will often go on to be a strong ambassador for that brand. This is as true in the used car arena as elsewhere.
“Therefore, dealers are increasingly interested in the optics of not just whether a claim is resolved but the speed and manner in which that is done. We are having more and more conversations where car retailers want to know about the way in which we look after customers in considerable detail.
“Once upon a time, a warranty was seen as much more of a financial product. How a claim was handled didn’t necessarily matter as long as it paid out where appropriate. Now, the soft skills side of claims handling is something in which there is a great deal of interest. Dealers have a strong awareness of how these elements can impact on their online reviews.”
Kent said that Assurant’s claims handling functions were designed to be commensurate with the RAC brand and that this had been an important part of their increasing penetration into the warranty sector in recent years.
“We put a lot of work into delivering a customer experience that reflects what people expect of the RAC – and that feeds through into the reputations of the dealers who choose to supply our warranties with their used cars.”