The buyer’s journey and experience has changed thanks to the digital revolution. Customers are spoilt for choice and let’s be honest, they can have the majority of things with a click of a button. It’s all about convenience. So, to keep the customer happy you need to make the searching and purchasing as simple and straightforward as possible. Amazon have nailed this.
This, however, is something we fail to offer in the automotive world, especially when it comes to the car buying experience. Cars.com reported that having limited finance options or giving a poor customer service experience affects 1 in 4 walk-in shoppers. So, consumers want the same experience they have when they shop with Amazon in dealerships, they want a speedy and efficient process so they can drive away in their shiny new toy.
Auto Trader reported that 80% of consumers find the process of buying and selling cars stressful, with more than half claiming to have been put off altogether.
So, where do you start?
When it comes to dealerships the experience starts as soon as your customer walks through the door. Every member of staff needs to be on the same page, by this I mean they all need to be focused on giving the customer a consistent experience throughout their buyer journey. This means delighting them pre, during and post sales. Reception, finance, sales reps and service crew, everyone in essence becomes a salesperson. To implement this, dealerships need to empower the entire team to complement the role of salespeople.
Next, remove any ‘headache’ the customer may have. You want to make the process and experience pain free, so your team need to do their homework. The modern buyer is now armed with so much information they will no doubt have a list of questions and as the ‘expert’ they expect you to answer and solve any queries. This is the ideal opportunity for you to build trust and resolve any issues, so the process truly is headache free.
A 360-degree approach is needed.
Above, I’ve mentioned the face-to-face interactions but what about the other forms of communication? They too need to sync and offer the same level of customer service. A bad online experience might put a potential customer off so they go to your competitor. A generic marketing touch offering them an invitation to a VIP event on new and used cars will go down like a lead balloon if they have just been in recently and put a deposit down on a new one. Remember, every touchpoint counts, so make sure you have the correct procedures and process in place to avoid the examples given.
Change takes time and so will the above suggestions. Staff will need time and dealers will need to encourage the behaviour. Dealerships need to be more customer focused and embrace the concept of making the car-buying process simple and easy.