In today’s competitive landscape, creating seamless customer experiences is more important than ever for auto dealerships. A seamless customer experience is a consistent and integrated customer journey across all channels. In other words, it’s the holy grail of customer service: providing customers with a great experience at every touchpoint, from their first interaction with your dealership to long after they’ve driven off the lot – perhaps in their new car.
So, how can you create seamless customer experiences in your dealership? Here we break down the buyer’s psychology and provide tips on customer service practices for car dealers.
1. Understand the buyer’s needs
Before implementing customer service practices for car dealers, dealerships must be aware that customers’ needs have changed. Buying processes were much more straightforward in the past: customers would come into the dealership, pick out a car and then trade in their old one. The dealer would work out all the financings, and the customer would drive off the lot.
Nowadays, customers are far more informed. They often come into the dealership knowing what car they want and have already researched financing options. Customers do more research online before entering a dealership than at any other point in the buying process.
Another change in the car buyers’ journey is the need for simplicity and convenience. Customers now expect to be able to do everything from their mobile devices, and they don’t want to have to come into the dealership multiple times to complete the purchase. One excellent way dealerships are meeting the demand for convenience is leveraging Kelley Blue Book® Instant Cash Offer. A dealership willing to pay someone immediately with cash for their used vehicle is a great way to increase vehicle acquisitions.
2. Use technology to your advantage
There’s no denying that technology has transformed the auto industry — and for the better. Today’s customers have more access to information and are likely to come into your dealership knowing the car they want to buy (and how much they’re willing to pay for it). Technology can be a great way to improve customer service practices for car dealers.
Embrace this change by using technology to streamline your processes and make it easy for customers to get the information they need. For example, you can use online chatbots on your website to answer common questions or allow customers to schedule test drives and appointments online.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is an excellent way to leverage technology to improve customer service practices for car dealers. A CRM can help you keep track of your customers’ interactions with your dealership. If you can see their online interactions and preferences, you can customize their experience, saving them time and providing better service.
Another great online solution is to use a lead capture form on your website to gain customer information for future contact. Kelley Blue Book offers LeadDriver™, which allows you to capture client information as they browse your website.
Using an opt-in form paired with a CRM can drastically increase your inventory acquisition while creating a seamless customer experience.
3. Make the car-buying process transparent
Transparency is critical for maintaining strong customer service practices for car dealers. Customers appreciate transparency; one way to provide it is by being upfront about your prices. Don’t try to hide the cost of the car in the fine print — customers will see right through that, and it will only damage your relationship with them. Instead, be upfront about the price and be willing to negotiate.
Another way to be transparent is by being clear about your financing options. Don’t try to upsell customers on things they don’t need or want — instead, focus on providing the best possible financing options for their situation. You can get to know your customers and understand their needs.
Adding features to your website like listing enhancements offers customers the information they want and provides your dealership with the data it needs to succeed. Listing enhancements can include financing options and details, instant credit scores and test drives from home. These features check all the boxes for customers while giving your dealership the right tools — all excellent customer service practices for car dealers.
4. Have a strong online presence
When thinking about customer service practices for car dealers, an online presence does not typically come to mind. However, a seamless online experience is just as crucial for car dealerships as an offline interaction.
Your website should be easy to navigate and provide customers with the necessary details. Remember: a website is often a customer’s first interaction with your dealership and is one of the earliest steps in the car buyers’ journey.
Suppose a customer seeks a specific answer and cannot navigate your website or find the solution they need. In that case, they are likely to move on to another dealership. Having features such as Kelley Blue Book® Price Advisor increases a customer’s trust when interacting with your website, which is crucial when establishing a relationship.
Mobile-optimized websites are another element of customer service practices for car dealers. More and more people are using their smartphones to browse the internet, and if your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’re likely to lose out on potential customers.
In addition to having a solid website, you should also focus on your social media presence. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow you to connect with potential and current customers. Social media can also help you to showcase your inventory, offer deals and promotions, or provide information about car buying.
5. Follow-up even after the sale
Following up after the sale is one of the essential customer service practices for car dealers. Dealerships might think their job is done as soon as the contract is signed and the car is no longer on the lot. However, your relationship with your customer doesn’t end when they drive off the lot — it’s just beginning.
Here are three ways to improve your dealership follow-ups:
1. Write a thank you note - One way to follow up is by sending a handwritten thank you note after the purchase. This personal touch will make your dealership stand out and show that you appreciate your customers. You can also follow up by phone or email to see how they enjoy their new car. Customers appreciate this kind of attention, which will help build lasting relationships.
2. Offer them promotions and services - Another way to follow up is by offering service specials and promotions. This approach shows customers that you care about their experience and want to ensure they’re looking after their new car. It is also an excellent opportunity to upsell customers on additional services or products they may need.
3. Send them a holiday or birthday card - Finally, you can follow up by sending birthday and holiday cards. A great way to stay top of mind with your customers, cards show that you see them as people, not just car buyers.
Are you wondering how you can keep in touch with past customers after such long periods? CRMs are the answer. Specific CRMs will have customer data saved and reminders sent to your email when a holiday or event happens. While you could use a digital card approach, handwritten notes may come across as more genuine customer service practices for car dealers.
There are numerous customer service practices for car dealers that can lead to a seamless customer experience. In turn, seamless customer experiences require a combination of proper employee training, technology, and regular feedback (both positive and negative).
By following these tips, you can take steps toward creating a standout customer experience at your auto dealership — one that will keep customers coming back.