Owning the Customer Experience at Your Dealership


Do you want to know the fastest way to kill customer experience at your dealership?

Be nonchalant about the experience and provide no framework for how everyone – not just sales or marketing teams – is supposed to conduct themselves when dealing with prospects.

Customer experience isn’t a minor function that salespeople have to deal with. Ownership and responsibility for client satisfaction must be borne by all – starting with the executive leadership.

A top-down customer experience funnel ensures company-wide alignment and reduces disenfranchisement between the various departments.

Before we address customer experience best practices and dive into some tips you can adopt to enhance your customer relations, let’s first define the term.

What is Dealership Customer Experience?

Customer experience, otherwise known as CX, can be understood as the range of feelings a prospective car buyer has about interaction(s) they have with respective dealerships.

Did the customer feel welcome? Understood? Pressured into buying a car they don’t want? Frustrated by the lengthy closing? Were they happy with the terms and conditions? How likely are they to recommend your dealership to others?

While these questions are by no means exhaustive, each answer will be telling.

Customer experience can be positive or negative. The quality of customer experience you provide greatly affects each individual sale as well as future sales.

Clients will rave to friends and family about a company if the service was good, and won’t be shy to divulge unpleasant encounters. 

As you can see, the stakes are high. Thankfully, there is a trade-off. The more work you put into improving and owning the customer experience, the higher the probability that you will outperform your competition.

Lately, it appears as if a majority of this customer experience journey is closely linked to client emotion. You may be wondering to what extent consumer feelings affect the eventual decision to buy. This question can be answered by exploring car buyer psychology.

Inside the Mind of Car Shoppers: Buyer Psychology 101

Prior to making their purchase, buyers typically go through a five-step process. This cyclical approach to buying has been discussed in depth by experts at the American Psychological Association.

It’s critical to know at which stage your prospects are at in the buying process so you know the correct language to use to guide them.

Step 1: Problem recognition

The hopeful buyer is cognizant of the fact that they want a car and so begin their search. At least 95% of car buyers say they first conduct an online search about a company before they ever engage with it or pay them a visit.

Step 2: Dealership research

According to Cox Auto Inc, the average new car buyer will visit 2.5 dealerships while those shopping for used cars will approach 2.2 dealers during the research phase. 

Buyers in this stage often walk into dealerships to simply see what’s on offer, but they are not ready to buy just yet.

Step 3: Evaluation of alternatives

After having narrowed down options to a handful of dealerships, the car buyer will begin to make comparisons. This is where customer experience becomes a distinguishing element.

Step 4: Purchase decision

Finally, it’s time to make a decision. So, with several similar offers on the table, a buyer may choose to seal the deal with your dealership simply based on how you treated them.

Step 5: Post-purchase evaluation

It’s key to note that customer experience doesn’t end with the shopper signing the dotted line. Be mindful of post-care as well. You want to forge life-long relationships.

Now that we’re aware of how buyers make their buying decisions and the need to connect with them on a human level, here are our top three tips dealerships can adopt to improve their customer experience.

3 Tips to Own the Customer Experience at your Dealership

Did you know that 54% of car buyers say they would be happy to pay more for a better buying experience? 

Improving customer experience will set you apart from the competition. Here’s how you can go about refining how your dealership treats customers.

Tip #1 Understand who your target buyer is

Do you know who your ideal client is?

  •         A college student?
  •         A recent graduate?
  •         A young professional?
  •         An established couple with a train of children?
  •         A mid-career individual?
  •         A retired person?

Understanding who you’re targeting will help you in both your online marketing strategies as well as coming up with financial plans that best suit your target.

If you’re able to clearly identify your ideal client and match their needs, then you’re more likely to be successful in your endeavors. 

Tip #2 Improve process efficiency

Automation has revolutionized how business is done across industries. Zoom into your dealership experience from a buyer’s perspective. Start with your website and social media channels.

  •         Are they optimized?
  •         Is it easy to navigate and find information on them?
  •         Can customers set appointments quickly?
  •         Is all of this hassle-free?
  •         Can clients talk to someone if they wish to call in?
  •         Do you have an online pre-qualification checklist and form?

What about when a client walks into the dealership? Who receives the client? Who shows the client around, is it the sales team? How is the client and their information disseminated between departments? How efficient are all these steps?

Tip #3 Make car shopping convenient

Do you know how long it takes on average to close a sale? As long as 4 hours! That’s way too long and consumers are complaining about it.

Because more people are conducting searches online – 76% of both new and used car shoppers – prior to visiting a dealership, they’re typically familiar with the specs and capabilities of the cars they want.

In fact, 1 in 3 people seeking to purchase a car already know what car they want. If a client’s mind is made up, it might be in everyone’s best interests to move on to closure without trying to squeeze in alternatives or you risk a walk-out.

If the client is undecided, then yes, you can take time to show them what else is available. Try to make shopping as convenient as possible for the client. 

The Bottom Line

Drive dealership success by building time-tested tactics that promote effective customer experience into your brand. By identifying your ideal customer, pin-pointing their pain points, and focusing on the details, you strategically position yourself as the go-to dealer of choice.

Owning the customer experience is the first step to developing a brand that attracts a loyal following and encourages word-of-mouth marketing from happy car shoppers.

If you’re keen to improve your dealership customer experience through more efficient home deliveries, vehicle pickups, and shuttles, don’t hesitate to contact us.