When it comes to best practice dealership customer services, we need to remember that although buying a car is an everyday occurrence for us, to our customers, it is a milestone event. More so than ever, we need to bear in mind that we are selling a lifestyle, not just a product. Whether online or in the showroom, we need to deliver a showstopping customer experience that meets their expectations of value (they’ve paid a lot of money) and reflects what it means to them (a significant life event).
We have the power to convert a normal, mild mannered member of the public into an exuberant endorsement machine and brand ambassador that sings our praises from the rooftops. But, as a certain superhero has bestowed on us, with great power comes great responsibility. If we’re not careful, we can also turn them into a wildly swinging wrecking ball with our business firmly in its sights. To prevent that from happening, here are our tips for delivering best practice dealership customer services.
Become an experiential, service-orientated business
Just within your local area, not to mention across your county, or even nationwide, there are plenty of businesses offering the same products and basic services that you do. If you only compete with them on costs, then like all price wars, it’s a race to the bottom. But, if you can sell an experience rather than just a car, you’re beginning to differentiate yourself from your competitors and giving yourself an edge.
This purchase is really important to your customer, and what you offer leading up to, during, and after that purchase, needs to reflect you understand that. They will be feeling excitement and apprehension – it’s basically Christmas for them, regardless of the time of year. You need to take them on a journey with your brand that can’t be dismissed or forgotten. This is hard to achieve with a mountain of paperwork, or countless (and needless) follow ups.
One of the first things you can do to improve customer service and experience is to ensure that all important information is available online. That means details on every model and your latest inventory. But it also means breakdowns of what documents a customer will need, and other things required to make a purchase. A great way of delivering this information is with dedicated ‘how to’ videos. Through SnapCell, you can create detailed, high-quality video content in minutes. From a stunning 360 walkaround of a specific vehicle to a step-by-step guide on what to expect at handover, you can add SnapCell videos to your website or social media channels with ease.
But you also need to make a customer feel welcome in the showroom too. That means making them feel comfortable. Being met and greeted, and having access to a lounge-style waiting area is practically standard these days, but there are still many little touches dealers don’t get right. Like selling family cars, but not providing a child zone or play area – especially if you want customers to be focusing on you, instead of worrying about grubby handprints on polished paintwork.
Another way of improving customer experience is to change how you approach prospects. By asking open questions, you will automatically be harvesting information that will enable you to deliver a more tailored experience. Instead of asking them closed questions about what model they are looking for, ask them what it is that attracts them to the brand. A report by McKinsey & Company in 2016 indicated over 25% of car buyers were not satisfied with the in-dealer experience parts of their car buying journey. Do you think things have gotten better or worse? Whether online or in the showroom, your focus should be on delivering a new and impactful customer experience.
When Henry Ford revolutionized the car industry, he summed up the difference between understanding what people wanted and needed with the famous words “they would have said faster horses”. Henry Ford wasn’t interested in meeting people’s expectations. He wanted to exceed them and expand them in a way they couldn’t even comprehend.
So, how can we apply this to best practice dealership customer services? It’s actually not rocket science, and a simple approach could be collecting the right data from your prospects and using it to create unique customer experiences. Are your prospect’s kids constantly playing Minecraft? Challenge them to build the model mum and dad are looking at. Do they have a dog? Dogs offer you an incredible opportunity to make an emotional connection with a customer. From a personalized gift, like a branded collar or coat, to a simple video showing dog friendly features of the model of interest, having the right information could help you seal the deal if you’re prepared to think outside the box a little.
Don’t just listen to feedback, act on it
Everyone makes mistakes, even the best car dealerships. By incorporating more opportunities for your customers to give detailed feedback throughout the customer journey, you can constantly improve your offering. Check in with your customers regularly and ask them how you’re doing and what you can do better. The more open you are to some constructive criticism, the more you will notice what is being compromised in your delivery of the customer journey.
Be open to being a digital dealership
According to a 2019 survey of its customers, Reg Vardy Group discovered over 27% would be willing to buy a car online, unseen. According to Think With Google, this has now grown to almost a third of all customers. How ready is your business to accommodate this growing trend towards online car buying?
It’s important to remember that it isn’t a case of one or the other – it’s about providing your customers with choice and convenience. There will always be a place for the physical showroom, and the in-person aspects of buying a vehicle. But there is also a growing place for customers who want to research and complete their purchase entirely online.
This is another area where SnapCell can help you deliver a personalized digital experience. Video content is by far the most hotly sought by car buyers online. With SnapCell, you gain stop-start recording and a suite of intuitive editing tools right on your smartphone. Content is automatically stored to your CMS, meaning you can create a library of apt and customizable video content that can be added to emails or SMS messages at a moment’s notice. From a virtual test drive to communicating your latest offers, SnapCell provides a perfect platform to reach your online audience.
Mobilize your communication channels
Your customers need to feel that they have access to all of the information they need, wherever they may be. They shouldn’t need to visit the showroom for every little detail – or maybe even any detail!
A huge aspect of best practice dealership customer services is making your prospects and audience feel empowered before they get anywhere near a showroom. Be it via emails, call centers, SMS, or even the ‘contact us’ page on your website – make sure that every communication channel you offer is optimized to enable customers to provide feedback and make inquiries.
Capture every detail of the conversation
When it comes to pre-sales, being able to capture the right customer data determines what kind of buying journey and customer experience you deliver later. The first hurdle many dealers face is coming up with a mechanism that encourages and motivates customers to part with their data in the first place. Your customers need to see value and perhaps even be incentivized to provide you with the details you want and need. The good news is most people enjoy talking about themselves – so tap into this. Just be sure to focus on an underlying message that any attempt to capture data is only to improve your offering.
Once that data is captured, it needs to be made available to every single customer-facing member of staff and should be accessible from a single point of reference. This enables details to be updated in real-time, by any member of staff. From simply identifying it’s a customer’s birthday to noting that they liked the courtesy car they had whilst theirs was in for a service; having the right data in front of the right people enables you to personalize the experience.
There are many ways of delivering best practice dealership customer services. Here, we’ve focused on the practical, low costs steps you can take in any automotive business to revolutionize and optimize the customer experience you provide. From integrating comprehensive and effective Customer Experience Management (CEM) platforms or software, to using the tools you already have (like SnapCell) – improving customer service really often is about working smarter rather than harder. And it’s definitely about being adaptive and responsive to the wants and needs of a new type of digitally focused car buyer.
If you would like to know more about how SnapCell can enhance the customer experience and car buying journey you provide both online and in the showroom, contact a member of the team today.