Perfecting the Customer Experience

Finding the magic between automotive technologies and human interaction.

With technology taking the place of so many now automated human interactions, the Customer Experience is more important than ever. We have fewer touchpoints with potential customers, so how do we maximize them and increase our ability to not only gain customers, but retain them as loyal 2nd, 3rd, and 4th car buyers?

Automation is possible. Technology is inevitable. They make things, easier, faster, and more consistent. However, the automotive industry is not fast food. I don't mind pushing images on the kiosk and get my spicy chicken sandwich, but I certainly don’t want to do that when I buy my next car.

That is why we must train and maximize the soft skills involved in a customer centric culture.

There is still the need and desire to talk with a human, ask questions, receive guidance, and walk through the automotive purchase process.  You can find many robust and fantastic technologies, but when it comes down to it, they are only as good as your team working with you. People buy large purchases from people they like. And can easily walk away from people they don’t.

Case in Point:

I was researching different small trucks for a while. I knew I wanted something cheap, reliable, and relatively low mileage for my son who will soon be driving. I searched high and low until I found the exact truck I wanted.

And it was his favorite color.

Score.

I drove 45 minutes, found the the guy who responsed to my lead, and started doing business.

Not only was he very condescending to me (questioning my knowledge), but he also kept pressuring me to view a newer truck, even though I knew what I wanted to spend and I was ready to purchase.

I drove 45 minutes back home, no truck, and really frustrated.

Back to my search online.

True Story.

They got me in the door with a quick response and the vehicle I wanted. The technology component was great. But it all turned out like online dating gone wrong. He looked nothing like his “picture.” 

Ughh

If your first touch point is technologically amazing, but that is where it stops, you need to train your employees what “Best in Class” customer service looks and feels like.

Simple Ways to Improve:

Listen

Talking is overrated. Listen to your customers. Listen to their comments. Once you do, you will find out what they really need and be able to give them more options.

Process

Train your staff how to consistent go through the sales process--from first greeting or internet lead response to the final moment the customer drives off the lot.  Make sure that process is followed and is consistent between the entire team. There are always variables--that is what allows some to be better than others--but have pieces that are the same throughout.

Go the Extra Mile

What does that mean? Learning the customer’s name before she walks in the door (if she set an appointment). Remembering on their third visit that they have three kids and need an SUV or “really cool” minivan. Making sure when they drive off the lot, the vehicle is the cleanest it has ever been. And maybe calling or checking in to see how things are going a few months down the road to reminding them of the free oil changes they should not forget to take advantage of. 70% of people who consistently have their vehicle serviced at the dealership of purchase will buy another vehicle from the same dealership.These easy steps will help create loyalty and repetitive purchasing habits.

Simplify

Whenever you can, simplify the purchase process for the buyer. How can it be faster, smoother, and less stressful? What can they do prior to finalizing the deal with you to spend less time in F&I? Also, be transparent. Something as simple as turning your screen so that the customer can see what you are doing, or using tablets to share information will foster trust and allow the customer to have confidence in your information.

Take Away:

Selling a car is still a relational experience. Even with shoppers spending so much time researching before they visit, they still come to your dealership to purchase. Take that moment and make it the best for them--they will remember. The combination of technology and human interaction is what will bring you the most success.

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