The mentality of “all about the product” is being replaced by a newer and more powerful type of thinking that resonates strongly with today’s shoppers. Rather than focusing solely on products and sales, businesses are shifting to a new mentality of “all about the customer,” a way of placing the focus squarely on the people who frequent businesses and keep them running. When your dealership works toward providing the best overall customer experience—the complete package for shoppers—you’ll retain more customers and earn the trust of new ones who are on the lookout for a dealership that truly cares about their needs.
For dealerships specifically, a focus that’s aimed only on pushing products and services can dramatically diminish the experience of buying and servicing a car, to the point of making these tasks nearly unbearable for shoppers—so unbearable, in fact, that Edmunds.com found customers would rather give up Facebook, sex, and smartphones in order to avoid the entire car-buying experience. That’s pretty a pretty dramatic trade-off! So how does your dealership show shoppers you do things differently?
Consumers, especially today’s consumers, are extremely innovative in finding ways to escape things that add stress to the buying process. Between online shopping, researching, and feedback forums, there are a number of ways to cut corners and reduce the time spent in dealerships—and for you, this means less facetime with shoppers. It also means being efficient, being knowledgeable about your products and services, and providing the most seamless in-house transactions you can once you finally get one-on-one time with customers. Shoppers know more than ever before about the vehicles they’re shopping—before they ever visit your lot. And now, more than ever, the customer experience is key to ensuring your long-term success.
While it’s true some shoppers have gotten a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to car shopping, there are several ways your dealership can win them over and show them finding the car of their dreams really doesn’t have to be a painful ordeal. Your dealership can be the one to turn things around and create a more positive buying experience for everyone simply by taking a few key elements into consideration and focusing on offering a customer-driven experience. Truly, when you focus on providing the best customer experience, you will sell more cars:
Test drives have remained the best way to sell a car. Although your customers know quite a bit about the vehicles they want to purchase before they get to your dealership, the internet still can’t give them a live test drive. It can’ let them play, assess, drive, and get a full hands-on experience with the vehicle. By making the test drive comfortable, yet informative, you’ll be increasing your chance at a sale. Make sure your sales professionals are ready to answer questions and are knowledgeable about all the vehicle’s bells and whistles, as shoppers will look to you to highlight them. The test drive should be personalized to each individual customer, creating an experience that makes the customer feel like the car is already theirs. By offering the best test drive experience possible, you’ll be helping the car sell itself.
Hiring quality employees is essential for dealerships that are striving to create top-notch customer experiences. It’s common for dealerships to hire employees based on their sales experience, which is a great place to start, but keep in mind there are other important qualities that will help your team stand out from the crowd. Professionals who are able to relate to your customers, earn trust, and lend insights into specific shopping preferences will help your dealership gain ground in today’s relationship-centered marketplace. Experience is important, but your dealership should also look more broadly toward hiring employees who are adept at building relationships and fostering trust.
Customer service is constantly changing due to consumer preferences and attitudes, and this is to be expected in a changing marketplace. Businesses that track consumer trends and expectations will come out ahead, because they are usually the first to try new things—and in turn, they’re the first to be noticed for their efforts. A new study by Deloitte confirms the growing relationship-based foundation dealerships must build upon, and by focusing on things like technology that can help you stay in touch, make appointment-setting easier, and keep consumers turning to you for advice and feedback, you’ll earn life-long customers, rather than one-time shoppers. Tools like AutoAlert’s PandoSocial can help you leverage the social reach of your entire dealership and get everyone involved in building lasting relationships. One of the most important investments a dealership can make is to establish, teach, and reinforce customer service and relationship-building skills in order to provide customers with experiences that make them want to return for repeat business.
A welcoming environment makes all the difference when customers are in for the long haul. No matter how much you streamline the process, purchasing a new car is a lengthy process, and the more comfortable you can make guests in your dealership, the more likely they’ll be to want to return—as well as spread the word to their friends. While a refreshing and relaxing environment is great, many dealerships are upping their game by offering higher-end benefits like free wifi, snack bars, entertainment for the kids, and big-screen TVs. However you decide to innovate, remember to continuously be on the lookout for things your customers will find convenient and appealing. You’ll find they won’t mind spending so much time with you—and you’ll sell more cars in the long run, so it’s worth the investment.
Customers are the center of today’s market. They are more informed and have more power than ever before—and they’re also holding out for more perks than ever before in their car-shopping experiences. The marketplace is full of choices for them, and it’s full of competitors for you. This means shoppers won’t settle…and they shouldn’t have to. It’s not enough to simply appeal to them with products anymore; instead, they’re looking for dealerships to provide them with the complete package. When your dealership steps up and shows customers you can offer not only the products they’re looking for, but also a customer experience that tops the marketplace, you’ll win every time.