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Are you wasting your customers’ time? Is it a hassle to do business with you? Can returning customers trust they’ll have a consistent experience every time? Most importantly, are your customers having actual human interactions with friendly people who care about them and are trying to make their car buying experience a pleasant one?
From the first time they walk in the door, through sales and F&I and then throughout the vehicle service lifecycle, what kind of experience do your customers have with your dealership? In this blog, Mastermind helps you view the customer experience in your dealership from their perspective. Begin to improve your dealership’s customer satisfaction scores by asking:
Who Are Your Dealership’s Customers? What Do They Want?
How much do you know about your customers when they arrive at your showroom for the first time, and what insights do you have about what they want to buy and how much they can spend? These questions are traditional challenges facing car dealerships, posing the potential to start the customer relationship off on the wrong foot if answered incorrectly.
Fortunately, it’s especially easy to know who your customer is and what they want when you’ve brought them into the showroom through predictive marketing. Once you’ve gotten them in the door by connecting with them with the right message, in the right channel and at the right time, you’ve already built the foundation for a great customer experience.
The most important part of that message, of course, is what you’re selling. More than anything else, your customers want the right vehicle. A 2019 Cox Automotive survey found the features and capabilities of the cars, trucks and SUVs you’re selling are still the most important factor in a sale, followed by brand and price. If you don’t have the right vehicle for your prospects, there’s little else you can do to recoup whatever investment you’ve made to get them in that door. Today’s consumers hate having their time wasted, and a trip to the dealer only to find you don’t have what they want will likely ruin any future chance at a relationship.
That’s why Mastermind’s proprietary Behavior Prediction Score® identifies and ranks the best prospects for your predictive marketing and sales based on what product and deals you have at any given time. Best of all, from the customer’s perspective, your dealership is providing a service by presenting them with a relevant and affordable option they may not have known existed.
Meeting Customer Needs Through Great CX
Yes, product, brand and price still drive dealerships’ bottom lines. However, dealership customer experience, or CX – essentially, how they feel about their interactions with you and your team – is increasingly driving automotive shopping and purchasing decisions.
According to PwC’s “Future of CX” research, the experience your customer has in your dealership isn’t just a number on a satisfaction survey. Rather, it’s one of the most powerful – and dangerous – factors in your dealership’s bottom line.
That’s because great CX lets you operate at a price premium, while bad CX loses you customers altogether. According to PwC, 43 percent of consumers would pay more for greater convenience and 42 percent would pay more for a “friendly and welcoming” experience.
However, don’t mistake having a friendly and welcoming dealership design with having actual people being friendly and welcoming to your customers. Dealers spend a lot of money – often at the request of automakers – on architectural and design factors. They certainly do matter and factor into a customer’s experience, but the PwC research shows that “engaging design” and “great atmosphere” don’t open up customers’ wallets, with fewer than 15 percent saying they’d pay more for those attributes.
Meanwhile, one in three consumers will walk away from a brand they’d previously loved after just one bad experience. No matter how much you’ve worked to build years of loyalty and how much you’ve spent on fancy waiting room amenities, you can lose those investments in a minute if a customer feels they have been treated poorly.
The best way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to make sure every touchpoint with your customers is as personalized and efficient as possible. Make sure everyone who touches the customer has access to all the information and insights they need and is empowered to meet their needs on the spot. If you look at your dealership from a customer’s perspective, are the people they’re talking to able to do what you need them to do, or not?
What Makes Customers Happy?
PwC’s deep research into CX concludes that, “People are increasingly loyal to the retailers, products, brands and devices that consistently provide exceptional value with minimum friction or stress.” This confirms powerful research that shows how valuable emotional connections are in driving customer loyalty and profitability.
For car buyers, happiness or “friction or stress” are often measured with a stopwatch. Cox Automotive’s study found that just 42 percent of customers were satisfied with how long the car buying process took, which was 2 hours and 52 minutes on average. Importantly, customers are getting less patient as our lives speed up. Even though the amount of time spent on a purchase hadn’t changed in two years since the previous study, consumers’ satisfaction with that time dropped by almost a tenth.
This ties into the top two dealership complaints reported by customers: paperwork and negotiations. From a CX perspective, the negotiation and F&I processes are ripe for improvement. Ward’s Automotive notes that the F&I process consistently ranks among the top complaints on dealership customer satisfaction surveys. If you put yourself in the customer’s perspective, this makes sense: New cars are fun. Paying for them isn’t – and neither is talking with a stranger about your personal finances.
One way some dealers have tried to speed this process along is by having salespeople handle F&I responsibilities in the showroom, which is a move that also offers cost savings by decreasing the need for F&I staff. But this strategy risks making a common CX challenge even worse by putting too much on the sales team’s shoulders and removing too much expertise from the transaction. Ward’s experts suggest that instead of transferring F&I responsibilities to showroom salespeople, dealers should instead focus on improving the coordination between sales and F&I teams to make the process move more quickly and smoothly.
Market EyeQ improves your dealership’s customer experience management by ensuring both sales and F&I staff have access and are working from the same information and insights about the customer. This reduces the need for repetitive information collection in the F&I room, improves the seamlessness of the handover from sales and makes it easier for everyone on the dealer team to provide consistently great CX.
If you approach the car-buying process from a customer’s perspective, would the experience you’d have in your dealership make you happy? Are your people ready and able to get you in and out as quickly and painlessly as possible? If not, contact us to schedule a free consultation on how Mastermind’s solutions could help you make the connections your customers want.
Read more about how you can improve your dealership’s operations.
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