Customer Loyalty

sara callahan
I recently moved across state and so had to find a new dealership a) to service my car and b) to buy a new car, as my car is getting older and I am looking at a couple of different vehicle lines. My experience has been interesting and eye opening. First there was my attempt to schedule service. I am a busy person so like to be able to handle most things online. At two dealerships I went to their website and attempted to schedule a service appointment online. At the first dealership it seemed like my appointment had gone through but I received no confirmation email. However, while I never heard back from the service department, I did get a call back 2 weeks later from the Internet sales director trying to sell me a car. He said that all service scheduling requests from the website went to him. I am not sure what surprised me more, the fact that I took two weeks to get a response or the fact that the Internet sales director contacted me based on an attempt to schedule a service appointment and tried to sell me a car. Needless to say I was not very impressed with the dealership and they must surely be losing customers/potential customers with this particular practice. I am due a major service that will cost a few hundred dollars and my vehicle is past its warranty so I am a hot ticket for the service department, and this one lost out. And I tried another dealership. At the second dealership I went to the website and it seemed like everything had gone well and I scheduled an appointment but I received no confirmation email or call and never heard from the dealership again. So about a week later I called and after waiting about 10 minutes on the phone I finally got through and scheduled an appointment. I told them about their website scheduling tool and the service director’s response was “oh yeah, that always happens.” When I told him that most customers would probably like the convenience of scheduling online and that he could be losing customers he just sighed deeply and could not wait to get me off the phone. This experience was not a good first impression of the dealership and am sure could have driven others to the Jiffy Lubes of the world. OK, next my attempt to set up a test drive for a new car. At the first dealership I spoke to the sales manager and told him that I would like to set up a test drive for a specific model. This was 5 days ago. He said that he would call me back in 10 minutes and I never heard back. I am a very hot prospect. I have done my research; I am undecided between two models and just wanted to test drive to decide which one. I have excellent credit and am ready to rock and roll, he just lost a sale and I went to the competition. It is am shame to see such slow response and poor service. It seems that there a lot of new tools being developed out there to help dealers better manage the lifecycle of the customer – most new ones seem to be fixed ops focused. I would be interested to hear any opinions on the hottest/latest/best trends in customer loyalty for auto dealers
Michael Gray
Hey Sara, I am not sure what side of the country you ventured to, but I would have bought a Yugo before I gave my business to any one of those dealers you visited. I cannot imagine a sales person, especially in the car business, that would not return a call to someone looking to schedule a test drive. I know your only problem with me would have been getting me to stop calling you. I guessed times have changed....and we wonder what's wrong with the car business.

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