Our industry has seen plenty of changes over the last 20 years. For the most part, they’ve been good ones. We’ve seen new business models that enable consumers to buy cars online, and a shift to less aggressive sales techniques in-store.
Aspects of our industry have evolved to meet the expectations of today’s consumers. Successful dealers have realized the importance of providing an exceptional customer experience. Forward thinking dealers like these are constantly on the lookout for new ways to improve dealership CSI.
Dealership CSI itself has evolved as well. For many dealers, it's no longer just a rating that impacts commissions or the ability to acquire in-demand inventory. Instead, providing a great customer experience is now many dealerships’ most important goal.
CSI is now widely recognized as an important metric that gauges future success and sustainability in an uncertain market. Here are three simple ways to improve dealership CSI.
1) Be Flexible - Every Customer is Unique
Studies show that car buyers are as unique as their fingerprints. Some people want to complete every step of the process online. Others prefer to start the process online and seamlessly transition to finish the process at the store.
Some people like to negotiate, others hate it. Some people want to work closely with a salesperson to gain product knowledge and complete financing, while others are confident doing their own research and are more than happy to secure financing themselves.
There is one thing that is constant, however. People overwhelmingly do not like old school aggressive sales tactics.
How does your dealership accommodate consumers who prefer to go it alone, online? Do you offer helpful online shopping and buying tools, updated inventory, and transparent pricing on your website?
Is your online to offline transition seamless, or do customers have to start the process all over again when they arrive at your store? What's your in-dealership experience like? Is it warm and inviting? Does your staff act as product consultants, or do they take the hard sell approach?
When it comes to making car buyers happy, one size does not fit all. A great car buying experience meets a customer's unique needs – no matter what those needs are. Offer plenty of online tools and resources, as well as a hassle-free in-store experience, to cover all your bases.
2) Improve Dealership CSI with Exceptional Interactions
Whether a customer is interacting with you personally, or interacting with your dealership digitally, every interaction must be exceptional – no exceptions.
Respond to inbound inquiries in a timely, quality fashion. Ask questions, answer questions, listen, and learn - no matter if by email, phone, text, or in person.
Be sure that your website is a seamless extension of your showroom, not just a lead generation tool. It should be a place where visitors can find the same helpful information, tools, services, and inventory they would find offline at your store.
For customers who have started the process online, either by submitting their contact info, indicating their vehicle of interest, or completing a finance application, never require them to restart the process at your dealership. The handoff should be a seamless, uninterrupted process in order to improve dealership CSI.
3) Provide a Transparent Trade-In Process
Today, most dealers put the cart before the horse. In this case, the cart is the new car purchase, and the horse is the trade-in. For a majority of consumers, the opposite is true – the trade-in is one of the most important first steps towards their next purchase, not an afterthought.
A recent study by Jumpstart Automotive Group revealed that above any other type of research prior to the dealership visit, trade-in value is the number one most preferred online shopping activity among consumers.
In another study from Black Book, the second-most likely reason to kill a deal is when a vehicle trade-in value is far from expectations.
Simply put, the trade-in sets the tone for a new car purchase and the experience customers have with your dealership. It determines how much equity they have in their used car and how much purchasing power they have for their new car. Oftentimes, the trade-in determines whether or not they can transact at all.
A great way to improve dealership CSI is to improve the trade-in experience. When you add The Appraisal Lane to your website, you allow visitors to connect with live appraisers to get a guaranteed trade-in offer, right from the convenience of their driveway.
These are a few simple ways you can improve your dealership CSI and sharpen your focus on providing an exceptional customer experience for every unique customer.