When it comes to earning business, the customer experience has become a key differentiator. These days, sales and service customers tend to choose convenience and experience over pricing. In fact, dealers that consistently provide an excellent customer experience, make it convenient for the customer to interact with them, and broadly promote this, are thriving, while others are trying to catch up with their competition.
Many technologies exist to help dealers provide a better customer experience. The key is to make sure you get the right tools; the ones that work well for the unique needs of your dealership or group. And, if you get them, make sure your staff knows how to use them. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, if you do get new technology that is there to help provide a better customer experience, and you promise that to your customers, please make sure you deliver on your promise!
Think about all those technologies which appeared over the years with the promise of making the car buying or servicing easier for consumers. Everything from trade-in valuation tools, to online credit applications, to communication methods, conversion forms, chat and text messaging. Most were more than likely sold to dealerships with the promise of increased conversions and leads. And they may deliver on that promise. But, keep in mind, your dealership then makes a promise to consumers by adopting these experiences/technologies. And the only thing the consumer cares about (or even knows about) is your dealership’s promise.
That trade-in tool that the consumer abandons when they start the process because it’s unwieldy only hurts your dealership. That chat tool a customer utilizes to communicate with you, but then receives no response, makes the customer feel your dealership just doesn’t care. The voicemail messages customers leave which are never listened to, let alone receive a response; or those leads from multiple sources which are never followed up on make customers believe your dealership doesn’t want their business.
What about that request for appointment service scheduler a customer fills out, then shows up at the dealership thinking they have an appointment, only to find that the service department knows nothing about them. Yes, that happened to me! I think you get my point.
All these technologies can be a great way to enhance the customer experience. But only if you select a good product that does in fact deliver on the vendor’s promise, if it is used properly, is customer friendly and your employees are correctly trained in how to use it to better interact with your customers. If there is friction in the process from the technology, or if your dealership does not respond appropriately to whatever promise that call-to-action provides to your customers, it is hurting the dealership more than helping it.
If you fail to live up to the promises you make to your customers, this can quickly result in brand deterioration and loss of consumer confidence. Review your technologies and process and ensure that the experience you provide online, in your showroom and service drive enhances the customer experience and makes the process more convenient for them.
Your online processes are just as important as your in-store processes and, based on trends, will only become more important. You may have the greatest in-store customer experience in the country. But, if the online experience is lacking, the customer will never know that… because you’ll never see them.
Author: Sara Callahan
Sara Callahan, Carter West Public Relations Founder & President
Sara Callahan is the Founder and President of Carter West Public Relations, one of the top agencies that specializes in retail automotive public relations.
Born in the United Kingdom, Sara Callahan re-located to the United States over twenty-five years ago and held executive positions in several marketing/communications firms before founding her own agency, Carter West Public Relations, in 1990.
Ms. Callahan’s particular strengths include community and media relations, content development, social media, campaign strategies, trade shows, special events, print and broadcast media placement.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org