Customer expectations are continuously evolving, and for businesses, it’s a matter of keeping up or getting passed by as shoppers look for opportunities that meet their needs in the most efficient and affordable ways. Dealerships are seeing the changes that have been brought on by technology as they see less foot traffic in their dealerships, yet still sell vehicles to consumers who are more educated about what they’re buying. Now, more than ever, it’s essential to meet shoppers’ expectations in order to stay on top of your game and succeed in a crowded and fast-paced marketplace.
Technology, the Catalyst for Change
Although traffic in your dealership may seem to be lighter, cars are selling. That’s because customers arrive at your dealership already well-versed in the vehicles they’re interested in. In fact, the average car shopper today spends about 11 hours online researching vehicles—and only about 3.5 hours offline, and that includes trips to dealers.
Add to these stats the fact customers expect your sales staff to be more knowledgeable about vehicles than they’ve ever been in the past, and you’ve got a pretty good picture of how technology has changed the consumer experience. The amount of information that is available to customers, and the speed at which it can be accessed, has raised shopper expectations exponentially—and at the same time, it’s given you even less face time with shoppers to make sales happen.
Providing the Ultimate Dealership Experience
The number one thing customers expect today is personalization. Once shoppers have chosen your dealership, they want to feel like the entire experience is being tailored specifically to them. Keep in mind their need for quick responses and even quicker access to information, and you end up with a pretty good picture of today’s shoppers. The key to giving them the personalized experiences they desire—and bringing them back to your dealership for repeat visits—is excellent internal communication that will allow you to offer a seamless and pleasant shopping experience.
Dealerships are turning to technology to help them give customers the immediacy and accuracy they’re looking for. AutoAlert’s powerful tools, including ProfileFuze and Pand
Imagine knowing not only what makes and models your customers are shopping, but also what frequency they’ve been searching and even if they’re in equity situations with their current vehicles. It would completely change the conversations you have with customers if you had access to insights like previous interactions they’d had with your dealership or even social connections they might have with your employees. Having all this information at your fingertips is invaluable, and it makes it easier to help shoppers find the right vehicles. That’s the benefit of having technology like ProfileFuze on your side. And in the end, when you’re able to quickly help shoppers find what they need, you’ll be giving them the personalized feeling they’re looking for.
Shoppers Want Communication Options
In addition to a personalized experience, shoppers want options when it comes to how and when they are able to contact you. In a marketplace that’s always “on,” consumers are accustomed to being able to contact individuals and businesses at any time of day—and in a variety of ways—and in return, they’re used to getting timely responses. When it comes to your dealership, shoppers want the same conveniences, and they’re looking for self-service, digital, and social means of interacting.
While the phone remains at the top of the communication list of ways to communicate due to the personalized interaction it offers, there are now other forms of communication that are well-received because of their efficiency. Focus on your social platforms, website, and email campaigns to reach shoppers who gravitate toward digital forms of communication—and maintain a solid, reliable presence on each of these so customers can come to expect your regular interaction.
However you decide to communicate—and whichever platforms you choose—it’s vital you also focus on your internal communication in order to show shoppers your dealership offers an experience that can’t be beat. Seamless communication is the key to providing the best experience possible, because when your entire team works together, your customers will notice the difference. This is where platforms like Pando come in. Designed specifically to meet dealership communication challenges, you can ensure everyone is updated in real time and able to connect instantly to meet customer needs.
Listening and responsiveness are also key components throughout your customer interactions. Keep in mind today’s consumers are eager to share their thoughts and opinions about brands, and when you show you’re paying attention to what they’re saying, you’ll gain their respect. Be open to feedback, both in person and via your online platforms, and respond quickly to questions, conversations, and suggestions. Your attentiveness and ability to communicate via a variety of channels will pay off in the long run as consumers turn their loyalty to you.
Bring the experience full-circle for customers by staying in contact and checking in with them once they’ve purchased vehicles from you. Everything from post-purchase calls to ensure they are satisfied to calls to remind them about upcoming maintenance is a way to stay in contact and remind customers you are a dealership that’s committed to offering an exceptional experience. Shoppers will appreciate the follow-up, and you’ll stay front of mind by staying in touch.
Although technology and tools may change, communication will always be an important part of any business interaction. When you work to understand the ways your customers are communicating and adopt new technology to help you communicate and interact, you’ll reach even more shoppers, and you’ll expand your presence in the marketplace. Believe it or not, great communication is the key to attracting and retaining more consumers, as well as making more sales.
Author: Joey Little
Joey Little serves as Director of Digital and Social Engagement for AutoAlert. An expert in customer experience management, he educates automotive professionals at speaking engagements across the country. With results-driven advice and proven industry knowledge, he assists dealerships in reaching their audiences and increasing business via their social platforms.