Even with all the digital enhancements that have improved the car buying process over the past 20+ years, the path to purchasing a vehicle is still a long and bumpy road. In 2019, consumers are still not getting the seamless car buying experience they really want.
Current research shows that in between car purchases (which occur an average of every six years), consumers transact nearly 200 times with popular retailers such as Amazon, eBay, Costco, and Walmart. These retailers offer a quick, convenient, and hassle-free online shopping experience.
Other industry research reveals that only 6% of Americans find car buying to be a transparent process and that among the people who were dissatisfied with the dealership experience, 37% would have been happier if the process were simple and fast.
A significant 78% of auto consumers feel it's important for the purchase of a vehicle to be as easy and convenient as possible.
So how do you offer a seamless car buying experience for your customers - one they've come to expect? It's easier than you think. Here are three tips to help you improve dealership CSI and offer an experience that’s inline with today’s major online retailers.
1) Stop Selling, Start Consulting
Our industry relies heavily on technology, believing that tech alone can create a seamless car buying experience. This couldn't be further from the truth. Technology has replaced the ever-important human element at a time when quality, personal interactions are needed most.
When it comes to buying a car – one of the most expensive and emotional purchases a consumer can make – there are no shortcuts to creating deeper customer engagement.
Take Ali Reda, for example.
Two years ago, Ali sold an incredible 1,530 new vehicles and 52 used vehicles, averaging approximately 130 vehicles a month. He sells more cars, on his own, than the average dealership in his home state of Michigan.
Ali provides an exceptional level of service by building personal relationships with his customers. He genuinely cares about people, regarding himself as "more of an advisor than a car salesman."
If a customer can’t afford a new car, Ali suggests they go home, save their money, and come back when their financial situation is better. He often refers customers to competitive dealerships whose vehicles better match that person’s particular lifestyle. If a customer wrecks their car, Ali helpfully walks them through the insurance claims process.
Ali says “People come to see me with their automobile problems and I’ll solve the issue. Like, somebody comes in who owes more on a car than it’s worth. Well, we need to sit down and figure out the best plan for now and how not to let that happen again in the future.”
Ali proves that a personalized, human experience is the most effective approach to selling cars.
2) Implement One-on-One Sales Consultants
New ways of approaching the traditional sales process have emerged to avoid stumbling blocks along the path to purchase, to create a seamless car buying experience and improve dealership CSI in the process. One such approach is to appoint a dedicated, empowered sales consultant to each customer.
Oftentimes, the transition from website visit to showroom visit is fragmented. Even though consumers may have begun their purchase transaction online, they're required to start the process all over again at the store. Customer satisfaction drops significantly when they must resubmit basic contact information, credit applications, or restate their desired monthly payment amount or vehicle of interest.
Proponents say that dedicated sales consultants remove fragmentation in the process by standing ready to assist – with detailed information and completed paperwork in hand – the minute the customer walks through the door.
A recent study revealed that consumers actually want to spend more time with salespeople. When a salesperson leaves their desk during a transaction, customer satisfaction drops by as much as 30%.
A dedicated sales consultant who is empowered to make key decisions during the transaction, versus leaving to obtain approvals about trade-in value, financial terms, or sales price, helps eliminate the need for a salesperson to walk away, which is yet another great way to improve car dealership CSI.
3) A Seamless Car Buying Experience Starts with Helpful Online Tools
If you really want to improve dealership CSI and provide an exceptional customer experience, start with the right online tools.
Instead of designing your website for the sole purpose of driving leads, consider it as a seamless extension of your showroom. Visitors should be able to find the same helpful information, tools, services, and inventory that you would offer at your store.
Make sure your online inventory is up-to-date, your website is optimized for mobile across all devices, and consider offering helpful shopping tools, tips, and personalized advice.
Since the trade-in is one of the most important steps in the car buying process, consider offering a transparent and personalized trade-in tool like The Appraisal Lane to help visitors receive a guaranteed offer for their trade from live appraisal experts.
Smart dealers understand that a seamless car buying experience is the competitive edge they need to stand apart, engage new customers, keep existing customers happy, and drive referral business to sell more cars.