In a recent article, I presented the need for dealers to take a proactive approach to dealership reputation management. The premise of the article was that dealers who are in tune with the way customers prefer to do business should find ways to extol the virtues of working with their dealership and stand out in a positive manner, rather than being reactionary. If dealerships are reactionary, then they become grouped with competitors that are frequently subjected to negative customer reviews.
Although the “way” business is being conducted has changed, the “how” is unfortunately the same in some dealerships.
Even though customers have access to volumes more information than they did 10 years ago, salespeople seem to fall back on many of the same responses to overcome customer concerns as they did prior to the Internet. It’s these “old school” responses to educated customer inquiries or concerns that perpetuate the negative stereotype some customers have of the car-buying experience.
Today, we often hear the buzzword “transparency.” To me, this means that we as an industry acknowledge the customer’s desire to be presented all the information to make a comfortable and educated decision. Then the customer relies on their good judgment when deciding where to purchase. This also means that as a dealership you must be able to influence the car shopper in your direction.
We understand the need to provide educational tools on dealership web sites, such as vehicle configurations, up-to-date rebate and incentive information, detailed new- and used-car inventory listings complete with multiple photos, videos, customized seller’s notes, trade-in value tools, financing options and applications.
The key to earning trust and confidence from the online car buyer is that the “transparency” also needs to carry over to the online communications and conversations with customers. Many of the old word tracks no longer work because customers are more educated in the shopping process and these scripts often insult the customer because of this. They see through “canned responses” and in many cases this is what causes them to recall a past unpleasant car-buying experience, possibly putting the brakes on doing business with the dealership.
Simply put, logic and reasoning now have an even greater affect on customers because they are prepared with information to cross reference your statements. When they do and recognize them as valid, it is easier to come to agreement and feel they are buying rather than being sold.
Now, of course, there are exceptions to every rule and we all know reasoning with some only goes so far. Logic can seem like a foreign language and emotion plays into major buying decisions, but the majority of educated customers respond positively to sincere, reasonable explanations. This can be extremely valuable with online customers, when aligning your response with what most customers have said are their motivations for doing business online versus your dealership’s front door.
Granted, there are many individual scenarios and concerns voiced by customers in a vehicle purchase, but I would like to share one thought that can be universally applied to help make a better connection with your customer. In subsequent articles, I will individually explore some of the specific concerns you hear every day. For now, keep this in mind when responding to customer concerns: Reinforce the customer’s motivation for electing to do business this way.
This means that your response should align with their desire to save time, make a comfortable and educated decision, solve their problem in a way they feel comfortable doing business and possibly achieving a better result than they had originally anticipated.