Buying a car is a big decision and customers want to go with the best. In the experience economy, the dealerships that win offer winning experiences at every point of the customer journey. In this article, we’ll go through five ways you can improve your customer experience, sell more cars, and grow your dealership.
Why customer experience is crucial for your dealership
Here are a few stats that show customer experience is crucial in today’s environment.
- 65% of customers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising.
- 55% of CX professionals believe their companies will be too slow and face disruption from more innovative, nimble and customer-focused competitors.
- 67% of customers say their standard for good experiences are higher than they’ve ever been.
A great customer experience can help your brand attract new customers and retain existing ones. On the other hand, being too slow to react to customer opinion means losing sales to dealerships that are better prepared to embrace digital transformation.
So let’s talk about how you can improve customer experience and stay ahead of the competition
Strategy #1: Increase visibility on 3rd-party sites
Great customer experience starts at the moment of first discovery. For many customers, this moment of first discovery takes place on review sites. Studies show that 80% of shoppers use 3rd-party sites for car shopping, including sites like Cars.com, Edmunds, Kelly Blue Book, CarGurus, CarFax, Carwise, and DealerRater.
Make sure that your business listings are updated and accurate
An average car shopper visits 4.2 websites – so make sure you are present everywhere your customers are looking. Claim your business profile on all the sites we mentioned above, as well as on bigger sites like Google and Facebook. Ensure that all of your contact information like phone number, email, and address is accurate on trusted 3rd-party sites so that interested customers can easily get in touch with you.
Ask your customers to write reviews
Studies show that 92% of customers consult reviews before making a purchase decision. That means the more social proof that you have on these websites, the better your chances of getting potential customers to choose your business in the future. Of course, while most customers are happy to leave a review, many simply don’t have the time to find your business’s profiles on different sites. To make the process of leaving a review easy, send review requests via text or email that links directly to your business profile on sites like Google and Facebook.
Respond to reviews
Remember to respond to both positive and negative reviews on any site where your customers might be browsing. While responding to positive reviews is a great way to show appreciation and build loyalty, responding to negative reviews shows that your team is dedicated to customer service in all circumstances. A great response to a negative review can in many cases even turn a disgruntled customer into a happy one.
Strategy #2: Create a fantastic in-store experience
While we’ve discussed some of the benefits of digital customer experience, it’s important to keep in mind that many customers still become aware of your business simply by walking in. So it’s important to make sure that your dealership’s in-store experience goes above and beyond that of the competition. Here are a couple of tips to make sure that your experience is worth raving about.
Improve your waiting area
These days, customers’ attention spans are short. Magazines in waiting often are not enough to keep customers entertained. Instead, many dealerships are getting creative in capturing customer interest. Businesses like Prime Motor Group in Massachusetts now have pinball machines and arcade games in their waiting areas to make the experience more fun than ever.
Focus on great service
Ultimately, great customer experience means that your team members should be trained to provide great service. Make sure that you have team members that welcome customers with a smile and are prepared to help with any issue that comes up in a polite and professional manner.
Strategy #3: Make your customers feel heard
Customer feedback is a useful source of continuous information and can play a critical role in improving your business. Be sure to analyze feedback from your customers at key touchpoints to make sure that your customer experience stays world-class. Here are three tips that can help you collect feedback and turn into action.
Mine reviews for data
While we talked about how reviews are a valuable way to build credibility with potential customers, they can also be used to identify areas that are and aren’t working with your business. Read reviews to identify the areas that customers often mention in both positive and negative contexts. This can give your team a better understanding of where customer expectations are being met and where further work needs to be done.
Send customer surveys
Collecting customer feedback shouldn’t end with reviews. Reviews and surveys together can be a great 1-2 punch to tackle issues in customer experience. Many dealerships use surveys as a way to collect more information about problems that were first brought to their attention through reviews. Customer surveys can help you go more in-depth into potential issues.
Get leadership involved
Make sure the reviews and surveys you collect don’t go to waste. Share this feedback in meetings with your executive team. It’s a great way to ensure that these insights are turning into action and improved operations.
Strategy #4: Leverage customer networks
Customers make purchases based on their social networks. Studies show that 35% of first-time buyers first become aware of the make and model of the car they buy from family or friends. So it’s important to invest in your customers and ensure that they’re loyal advocates of your brand.
Launch a referral program
Seek your customers’ help to spread the word on social platforms. 49% have already shared auto-related content with their network on social media. Many of your happy customers will likely be more than happy to share information about your business as well.
Determine the right incentives
To further motivate customers to refer your business, determine what kind of incentive you want to offer. Some dealerships choose to give cash or gift cards to customers who have given referrals. Others choose to give service credit. Some dealerships even choose to offer no incentive. Experiment to see which arrangement gives you the best results.
Make the process easy
Customers are more likely to refer friends and family to your business when the process is easy. Send referral requests to your customers directly via text and email, so all they have to do is click a button to share a referral. Also, keep in mind that tracking referrals and incentives manually is not easy. Consider using a referral management software instead. The right platform can help you track who is sending referrals and help you pay out incentives.
Strategy #5: Don’t forget the post-purchase experience
Your relationship with your customers shouldn’t end with the purchase. Studies show that 86% of customers want to engage with brands post-purchase. However, 59% of car buyers are not contacted post-purchase. Don’t let this be the story for your dealership. Here are a couple of strategies that can help you stay connected with customers and build loyalty over time.
Send promotions or deals
Unless you actively promote offers to your existing customers, they may go to competitors to get their needs met. Send customers promotions or deals via email and text. These can be service offers, or if enough time has passed, an offer to trade-in their old vehicles.
Care and maintenance tips
To stay top-of-mind for customers, send them informative content such as tips for maintaining their vehicles. It’s a great way to show your brand’s dedication to service while also helping your customers make the most of their purchase.
Unfortunately, we just didn’t have space to fit every strategy that we have into this one article. But luckily, we compiled this eBook with all of the information that you need. It contains 5 bonus strategies that you can’t find anywhere else. Download the guide below.
Originally published Oct 16, 2020 5:38 PM, updated Sep 30, 2022