As a car dealership, it is imperative that you understand what your customers really want when they step through your doors. As you probably know all too well, competition is extremely fierce and they can easily go to another dealership down the road.
Many dealership sales teams struggle to see what the buyer’s experience is like through their customers’ eyes. Sales representatives oftentimes get so focused on hitting their quotas or pushing upgrades for newer models that they forget about how to properly treat buyers.
Unfortunately, this only perpetuates the negative sentiment that so many people have towards the car buying process. In fact - a shocking 99% of customers looking for a car bluntly state that they expect the buying process to be a “hassle."
So, how can your dealership start to understand your customers better and improve the car buying process?
Let’s discuss this.
Taking a data-driven approach to the customer experience may sound a bit unusual for a car dealership, but it is one of the best ways to ensure that your sales team has a firm understanding of how to treat potential buyers.
A good starting place is just some plain old market research. You can take a look at some studies that have been done with consumers for generalized information.
For example, a study from Cap Gemini reveals that the number one reason customers visit a dealership in person is to test drive a vehicle – not to negotiate prices or get advice from the service team. However, they are still interested in receiving technical help - particularly when it comes to new technology.
This study also found that customers prefer to do the majority of their shopping and research online – so you should be routinely checking your website for maintenance issues that could be interfering with the online customer experience, too.
Finally, you need to understand what is most important to car shoppers in your particular area.
For instance, if someone is looking for used cars in Albuquerque, NM, they are probably more interested in cars with great AC and enough power to drive through the hilly terrain of the area. On the other hand, if you service customers in Buffalo, NY, then customers are probably looking for vehicles that are made for driving in the snow and offer great handling.
Providing information like this should set the foundation for your sales team’s assistance process. By knowing when and how to help your customers, your dealership can create a far more pleasant experience.
Getting feedback directly from your customers is another effective way to assess your dealership’s current processes - and find ways to make improvements. Looking at your online reviews is a good way to start – but you should be aware that these may not be a totally accurate depiction of the actual customer experience.
This is because many customers won’t bother to leave a review unless their experience was exceptionally poor or positive. So, you will oftentimes only get the extremes and have a limited view of what the actual customer experience is for the majority of your buyers.
However, studies have found that 51% of customers who were asked to leave a review ended up doing so. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is to send a follow-up email several days after purchase with an invitation to leave a review or participate in a sales survey.
Be sure that you are framing the questions in a way that extracts details - rather than just a generalized “On a scale of 1 to 10, how was your experience?” You may also want to include options for people to write in comments or suggestions in their own words.
If you really want to see how your dealership looks from a customer’s eyes, you may want to consider using mystery shoppers that will report back on their experience to show you how they were treated, and how the dealership appears from their point of view.
These are paid customers who are typically hired through market research companies to collect data and provide honest feedback about a company.
There are automotive mystery shopping agencies you can contact to schedule an interaction. However, it is extremely important that your sales representatives do not know that this is happening. You want to receive feedback that is as honest and accurate as possible, so it is best to keep your team in the dark until after you receive feedback.
Finally, it is important that your team gets to know your customers on an individual basis to build connections and understand them better. The customer experience is more important than ever. In fact, 54% of customers would buy from a dealership that offered a better experience – even if they did not have the lowest price.
By building more personal relationships with your customers, you can learn how to view the shopping process from a consumer’s viewpoint. You should encourage your sales team to take more time working with customers one-on-one with personalized emails or follow-up phone calls once they leave the dealership.
Also, let your team know that they shouldn’t shy away from asking questions related to the customer experience. If a customer decides to purchase from another dealership, ask them if there was any particular reason or issue with their experience that caused them to change their minds. This can really help your team get into the mind of the customer and improve things for the next opportunity.
Want to know the real secret to close a sale? It’s pretty simple: know your customer and understand what they want.
When a business has a really firm concept of their audience’s priorities, preferences, and processes, it is going to be much easier for them to close deals and turn a profit.
The best way to do this as a dealership is to learn as much as possible about your customers through research – both internally and externally. By using these methods, your sales team can learn how to better connect with every single customer that walks through the door and improve the customer experience dramatically.