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Kia’s reputation focus delivered 14-fold uplift customer engagement for dealers

Kia UK amplified the voice of its customers and ramped-up online interactions as part of a focus on brand reputation that delivered a 14-fold increase in engagement for its retailers.

The current AM Awards Manufacturer of the Year’s general manager for customer quality Kate McLaren told AM how a concerted effort to increase its volume of customer reviews online and improve dealer listings helped rival traditional marketing activity to generate new sales leads.

It also saw the Korean carmaker usurp sister brand, Hyundai to take top spot in Reputation’s 2022 automotive sector report on online customer advocacy, scoring 710-out-of-1,000 to finish ahead of Renault (703), Hyundai (695), Lexus (692) and Mazda (665).

“What soon becomes apparent is that there is a clear correlation between online reputation, our levels of online visibility and the volume of leads going to our dealerships online,” McLaren told AM.

McLaren said that Kia had partnered with Reputation to improve customer advocacy back in 2018.

Working in partnership with its retailers, the OEM moved to generate increased reviews from the likes of Feefo and JudgeService, ramp-up responses to deliver a positive narrative and sharpen-up dealers’ listings accuracy.

Reviews have now trebled to around 80,000 a year, according to Reputation’s CX strategy director Chris Sparling, with over 80% of those reviews receiving a response, compared to around half when the project started.

Giving more insight into the effects of the changes made by Kia, McLaren said: “Dealer listing accuracy is now 97% whilst listing views have increased from four million in 2019 to over 60m in 2022. Clicks to phone call and website have increased more than twenty-fold reaching over 700,000 and 1.7m respectively in 2022.”

Advising delegates attending an AM in a ‘General Managers Guide to…’ webinar on an online reviews strategy, Reputation’s former automotive director – EMEA, Andy Wand, said: “You can ask people to do a follow-up review and that almost negates the first review, and it shows people that you resolve issues.”

Wand said that reviews could be used to “create a narrative of good customer service”.

Sparling said: “You get more positive feedback on the back of positive reviews.”

McLaren suggested that the impact was more direct. She said: “What we have found is that people who engage with reviews are more likely to complete and other action online, whether that is to configure a car, explore finance options or contact a retailer.

“It’s particularly true of electric vehicles (EV). EVs are still such an unknown for so many customers that they are seeking out reviews to inform their future buying decisions. They are a vital component in the customer journey.”

Kia added a number of electrified vehicles to its product line-up as it delivered a record 100,000 registrations in the UK during 2022.

The new Sportage plug-in hybrid (PHEV) was joined by the new Niro PHEV and EV.

This year the brand will also launch its EV6 GT performance EV and a new EV9 SUV flagship.

To read Reputation’s full 2022 automotive report, click here.

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