Many customers are fearful of the car buying process. They have anxiety about negotiating, dislike the F&I process, and wish the whole thing would just take less time.
It should. Over the years, findings like these have popped up in numerous surveys and studies, many of which actually offer valuable advice. So it’s not a surprise, then, that automotive retail is evolving into a multi-faceted, flexible, and data-driven experience: it’s simply what customers want. Indeed, a glance at the recent news regarding Hyundai Motor Finance and their pilot subscription program pretty much confirms it.
And while that evolution continues, a recent survey conducted by DealerRater for Automotive News puts a slightly different spin on the consumer perspective. Among other questions, customers who had recently gone to a dealership to buy or lease a vehicle were asked “In general, what part of the dealership experience could be improved the most?”
Of the possible responses, “none of the above” scored highest, followed by negotiation (8 percent), interaction with the salesperson (5 percent), and presentation of F&I products (3 percent). The survey drew over 14,000 responses from consumers who had gone to a dealership to buy or lease a vehicle.
For starters, it’s clear most shoppers are happier with the experience post-purchase. Call it the “well, that wasn’t so bad” syndrome – but agitation clearly diminishes with that new car smell and a new ride in the driveway. It’s also fair to speculate that customers are far more apprehensive going into a transaction.
The real question – and opportunity – is this: how does a dealer reduce consumer fear and anxiety of buying a car and extend the happiness after the sale? Here’s three simple suggestions:
1. Help Car Buyers Feel Comfortable: Car buyers start the purchase process online, so don’t make them re-start when they get to the store, and make sure you understand their profile and priorities ahead of time. You can do this by utilizing existing data you already have to customize the sales experience.
2. Make the Introduction to Service: The survey also found that customers prized dealer expertise over price when it came time for post-warranty service. So, by introducing your new buyer to the service department, and scheduling that first appointment, you can fuse the happy view of a finished transaction with the known expertise of service advisors and techs. It helps to keep a long-playing conversation going – one that will hopefully extend after the warranty period expires.
3. Create a Relationship that Reduces the Fear of Buying a Car: Each customer touchpoint you have builds data, as you collect valuable information each time. This expands your knowledge of their wants, needs, and lifestyle. That personalization, in turn, improves the connected relationship and helps ease fear when it’s time for lease return or a new vehicle purchase. Building a relationship with customers starts with understanding a 360 degree view of their profile and leveraging data to predict and anticipate their needs. It’s engagement that doesn’t end but adapts and continues through their purchase journey.
Clearly, car buyers find the process daunting – even post-purchase. That can be solved, however, through predictive and proactive relationship techniques designed to build trust, encourage ease, and keep connected – long after the sale.