For most people, buying a car isn’t a regular, everyday activity. It’s an occasion that doesn’t come around all that often, and when it’s time to shop for a new car, consumers expect a great dealership experience. After all, next to a home purchase, it’s likely the second most expensive purchase for most individuals in the U.S. Customer expectations and experiences drive their purchasing decisions, as well as word-of-mouth recommendations from peers. In fact, positive interactions with businesses are even more influential for shoppers than businesses that are able to offer the most innovative products. Paul Greenberg, author of CRM at the Speed of Light said it well:
If a customer likes you and continues to like you, they will do business with you. If they don’t, they won’t.
You need your customers to like you, and they’re going to like you if you give them the best experiences—from the moment they set foot onto your lot until the final paper is signed, and even afterward when they return for service. Your reputation is on the line, and every interaction with your customers is a chance to show what your dealership is made of.
Given this opportunity, it seems logical every dealership would jump at the chance to make customer care their top priority, right? But we’ve all heard the stories and read the online reviews about dealerships that miss the mark, and you’ve probably cringed at a few especially scathing pieces of shopper feedback. No one wants to be on the receiving end of bad reviews. After all, it looks bad on the dealership and even feeds into negative perceptions some shoppers have about the industry as a whole.
Technology offers shoppers and businesses the ability to communicate quickly and get messages out to countless people via social media, which means both good and bad experiences are being shared with your potential customers. Shoppers want to talk about their experiences—making it even more important they have great things to say about your dealership. Word of mouth travels quickly, and when shoppers share stories about exceptional experiences in your dealership, it will pique the interest of potential future customers.
Keep in mind, your employees are a tremendous asset when it comes to fine-tuning critical points of the customer experience. When you equip them with the right tools and mindset to provide excellence for every shopper, you’ll build strong relationships and secure word-of-mouth feedback, as well as future sales. Your staff can be the first line of defense in making sure your customers like you. They can ensure great dealership experiences and help you stand out to shoppers. Here’s how:
- They offer great customer service. Dealerships have historically created loyal customers by offering high-quality products and a great driving experience, but today’s shoppers require even more. Your team can help you take things to the next level by creating an environment that makes your customers feel important and prioritized. With their follow-through and attentiveness, they can help you turn your dealership into a guest services business, rather than focusing solely on pushing sales.
- They monitor feedback. Online reviews get more attention now than ever before. Review sites are growing in popularity, and consumers turn to them to research products and services—and your customers are leaving candid feedback there. Your team can keep an eye out for new reviews, as well as help you respond appropriately. And with customer-centered professionals on board, you can ensure you’re receiving great feedback on top review sites.
- They build relationships. Lean on the expertise of your team to help build solid relationships with your customers that will carry past their initial purchases. When your professionals provide superior service, you can be sure customers will return and contribute to the parts and service department. Get your pros excited about helping boost the area of your dealership where you see a majority of gross profit margin, and they’ll work their magic to ensure the best dealership experience for every customer.
- They help build loyalty and trust. Your team can help you build lasting relationships with customers by getting to know more about their vehicle needs. And when you know what your customers need, you’ll be able to proactively deliver exactly what they’re looking for. Studies show it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an established customer, so by enlisting your team to create excellent dealership experiences, you’ll be well ahead of the game.
It’s time to make sure your customers like you. Sure, it’s great to have the best vehicles on your lot, but the experiences you offer when shoppers walk into your dealership will stick with them long past their initial purchases. Get your entire team on board and make the customer experience part of your overall strategy. You’ll you end up with happy shoppers who are eager to share the great service they’ve received—and you’ll attract new and repeat customers to your dealership.
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.