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Tesla CEO Elon Musk often responds to questions and concerns from customers on Twitter, but the electric-car maker’s stores are not following his example, according to an analysis from the online reputation-management platform Reputation.com.
The website released on Monday a ranking of automotive brands’ dealerships based on over 13 million online comments and reviews from customers (primarily on Google) and how the dealerships responded to them. Each brand was given an overall “reputation score” that measured factors like the number of reviews their dealerships received, the sentiments expressed by those reviews, and how diligent dealerships were in responding to both positive and negative feedback.
Tesla ranked 27th out of the 28 brands on the list, due mostly to the failure of its stores to respond to nearly all of their customer reviews. The company’s stores responded to just 1% of the reviews analyzed by Reputation.com. No other brand responded to fewer than 24% of their online reviews, and 79% of the brands on the list responded to at least 40% of their online reviews.
Tesla’s stores received a higher overall rating, 4.47 out of 5 points, from customers than those of all but two other brands, indicating that the company’s unconventional decision to operate its own stores, rather than outsourcing sales to third-party dealerships, has had a positive impact on customer satisfaction.
But Ali Fawaz, Reputation.com’s automotive general manager, told Business Insider that the entrepreneurial nature of a traditional auto dealership motivates its owner to be more attentive to customer concerns than a store that is just one of many run by a large corporation.
“With a franchise dealer model, you have entrepreneurs who are opening up these franchise locations and running them like local businesspeople,” Fawaz said. “With Tesla, I think there’s a disconnect there, and that’s hurting Tesla’s ability to actually engage with their customers and respond to negative reviews and ask for reviews on social channels.”
According to Reputation.com’s analysis, Tesla customers are enthusiastic about their vehicles, and they tend to have positive feelings about the employees in the company’s stores. But their biggest complaint, vehicle service, has become a consistent refrain. In the reviews and comments analyzed by Reputation.com, Tesla owners were frustrated by service wait times and the quality of repairs, echoing accounts owners gave to Business Insider last year.
“Service feedback tends to be a little bit lower than sales and product feedback in general,” said Reputation.com chief scientist Brad Null. “But for Tesla, it’s a significant gap, and it’s been growing.”
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on this story.