How do you deliver efficient, smooth and exemplary vehicle sales customer experience in a fast-moving, digital world and sector which is undergoing dramatic change?
Whilst car buyers now arrive on site armed with knowledge and much further down the purchase journey than ever before, frustrations still exist with the process itself. Auto Trader’s eighth market report found a third (33%) of car buyers would have purchased their vehicle sooner if the sales process had been smoother.
Cox Automotive’s 2019 Car Buyer Journey report found that increased digitisation has had an impact on the car buying journey by speeding it up. In 2017 car buyers spent an average 14 hours and 44 minutes researching and buying a car and by 2019 that had reduced to 13 hours and 55 minutes. However, more of that time is spent online – 61% in 2019 compared to 57% in 2017. The time spent at the purchasing dealer remained the same at 20% with competitive dealers being dismissed more quickly, car buyers spent 17% of their time on other forecourts compared to 14% in 2019.
However, the same report found the experience at the dealership had not improved. On the one hand, a massive failing by dealers, but on the other, proactive dealers can make changes now and enjoy quick wins by better meeting customer expectations on site.
The research found that 61% of car buyers thought the process had stayed the same or was worse than their previous visit with the vast amount of paperwork being one of the main sticking points. In fact, almost two-thirds (64%) said completing paperwork took longer than expected.
The report identified the top frustrations with the car-buying process as – paperwork (29%), price negotiation (28%), finding the best deal or price (22%), dealing with sales people (16%), searching dealer stock to find the best car (14%), part-exchange valuation (12%) and applying for finance (12%).
This is where digital tools can come into play to alleviate some of these headaches and move your customer further along the sales funnel before they step on site. There’s also plenty of suppliers to choose from so finding a competitive price and the product that suits your set up should be relatively straightforward.
Finance software providers have created a range of tools enabling consumers to check monthly payments and even apply for finance online, combine that with digital vehicle valuation tools and that’s two stumbling blocks addressed. Meanwhile, several providers offer software that creates digital paper trails, making this element of the transaction smoother and secure without the need for numerous trips to the dealership to sign a document. In addition, it means customers can take their time to read the documentation in their own home rather than feeling under pressure when on site.
The study also explored which areas of the process were undertaken digitally. Not surprisingly, searching for their next vehicle topped this table (83%) compared to paperwork (5%). Dealers who transfer as much of their paperwork process into the digital realm are likely to make some quick customer experience wins. The Cox research backs this up as customers who completed paperwork digitally reported much higher levels of satisfaction – almost three-quarters (74%) reported being satisfied with the dealer experience when completing paperwork digitally compared to 65% who did so in person.