Selling cars is much more challenging than it used to be. Gone are the days when you could open a dealership, run a newspaper or radio ad and magically produce customers. Gone also, are the days of high-pressure sales and treating customers like lambs led to slaughter.
Thanks to the internet and the popularity of social media, today’s customers are very savvy and have more in control over the buying process. Now, 80% of customers know what they want and show up at your dealership informed and ready to buy. The only question is whether they will buy from you or from a competitor.
This means your greatest competitive advantage is in the way you enhance your customer’s experience. So, how can you ensure your dealership experience is better than your competitor’s?
One of the best ways to do that is to make sure the entire sales process (before, during and after) is smooth. A study by Economist Intelligence Unit shows the top five areas consumers consider important to a positive customer experience. These are:
1. Quick response to inquiries or complaints
2. Simple purchasing process
3. Real time order tracking
4. Clear product information available across channels
5. Being able to interact with the company over multiple channels
None of this seems like jaw dropping news, does it? These service feats are easily accomplished by anyone who makes service a priority. Therefore, if you really want to add to your customer experience, you are going to have to step up your game.
The secret to creating an extraordinary customer experience is in how you connect with your customers.
No relationship can flourish in the absence of trust. Customer experience, customer loyalty and professional selling are all about establishing and maintaining trust. You can be sure that now, more than ever, no auto dealership will flourish if they cannot gain and maintain the trust of their customers.
The customer experience points listed above are an important part of that journey, but any automotive dealer who wants to excel in business, will need to leverage the power of marketing to do the rest. Here are a few things to consider on your journey to building trust.
1. Perception is everything. What does your marketing say about your standards? Are you only pitching product and promotions? Adding customer reviews to your website and circulating them through social media channels sends a very powerful message about your trustworthiness.
2. Play a significant role in community charitable events. Having a promotion around raising money for charity or participating in community clean up campaigns are two ways you can do good while building trust. We connect with people who share our values, so consider the values of your customer base when you adopt a cause. If you’re promoting green vehicles, then make sure you are doing other things to support the environment and feel free to make some noise about it.
3. Maintain contact for at least 90 days. The buying journey of a conquest could last up to 90 days. What happens after someone visits your website or leaves your dealership could be the difference between choosing you over a competitor. Do you put those leads into a system that allows you to continue to influence their opinion about your company, products and people? If not, then you really should. It takes at least 26 touches to get the attention of a conquest. Make sure your approach is continuous and varied.
4. Data, data, data! Take the time to collect the right information so you can understand your conquest’s needs and desires. Then, target your advertising to their unique needs. This can only be done if you are collecting the right data and doing it consistently. The logic behind this is quite powerful. Humans tend to trust people they feel understand them. Use multiple touch points to communicate consistent messages. This will cause them to trust you even more and you will naturally become their preferred dealer.
5. Ask the right questions. When people enter your dealership to look at vehicles, they may think they know what they are interested in but may not realize there are more suitable options. Asking a series of critical questions not only allows you to get the information you need to select the right options for your customers but also builds trust. The five W +H questions help build rapport and give the impression that you are interested in finding the right fit as opposed to just meeting a sales target. Think who, what, when where why and how. That’s the standard reporters use because it allows you to quickly get the most focused information possible.
As you can see, customer experience isn’t just about what happens to customers inside your dealership. There’s a whole buying journey that happens outside those walls that often begins with online research and continues well past the day they actually show up at your door. It’s up to you to make the decision to take part in that journey. Failing to do so could cause you to unwittingly help your competitors.