Unfortunately, the automotive industry customer experience (more specifically, automotive retail) of many car buyers is not often fondly remembered.
When one thinks of top notch customer service, their mind might go to luxury dining. Their mind might even go to a grocery store (we're thinking Publix!). The automotive customer experience doesn't share a positive association with these, however.
When it comes to trust, car salespeople have generally been among the lowest on the trust index! Now, this Gallup poll is from 2012, so things may have improved, but at the time: Car salespeople were on the bottom rung!
Customer Satisfaction in the Automotive Industry is a Science
In this article, we will provide you with some tips and best practices to improve customer service in the automotive industry, shine above your community competitors and peers, and begin to build a truly stellar customer experience that will leave your automotive customers impressed and coming back for more.
We understand the importance of providing exceptional customer service in the automotive industry. We know that happy customers lead to repeat business and positive reviews, which can ultimately improve search engine rankings.
We know what a good conversation can do to set positive customer expectations about the sales process, address customer concerns, and make customers feel valued and heard by the company they are looking to do business with.
5 Approaches for How to Improve Customer Service in Automotive Industry
1) Make a Great First Impression
First impressions are everything in the automotive industry, and in this day and age your first impression is often experienced on your dealership website. A customer's first impression of your dealership or repair shop can set the tone for their entire customer experience; so much so that even one misstep or inconvenience can have a customer running to Google to find the next dealership or repair shop. (Trust us, there is no shortage of options that the internet can provide these days.)
Greeting customers with a smile and a warm welcome (even digitally) can go a long way in making them feel valued and appreciated. Ensure your staff is well-trained and equipped to provide exceptional customer service from the moment they walk in the door (or click into chat on your website). With so many possible initial customer touchpoints, it's important to have your team know how to receive customers from every angle, from every medium.
2) Listen and Communicate Effectively During the Sales Process
Effective communication is crucial in any industry, and the automotive industry is no exception. Take the time to listen to your customers' concerns and needs. These are real, unique people who each have their own wants and needs in a vehicle. This vehicle is an extension of their life; whether they are a parent, a musician, or a surfer. Ask them why they love driving! Ask them why they need the vehicle!
Once you discover more about your customers, you can begin providing them with a clear and concise explanation of services, pricing, and any additional options that make sense after your initial interview. Clear communication and transparency can help establish trust and build long-term customer relationships. Wow your customers by actually caring about who they are as people, and retaining them will be a piece of cake.
3) Offer Convenient Services
In today's fast-paced, super-busy world, customers are looking for convenience. Customers will pay a premium if it means the car buying process goes smoothly, or if they can overall do less during any dealer process.
What better way to provide convenience while still exciting the car buyer than with a virtual test drive and vehicle overview? Similarly, let them set a test drive online without feeling pressured prior to them coming in. Offer online booking and scheduling, pickup and drop-off services, and shuttle services that can help streamline the customer experience and make their visit to your service department as stress-free as possible.
These small touches can go a long way in improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.
4) Provide Expertise and Knowledge
Customers are as resourceful as ever in the digital age where answers are a few finger taps away. They expect more from the automotive industry, and expect car salespeople specifically to be knowledgeable and experienced in all areas of their field.
Ensure your staff is well-trained on vehicle features and trim levels and equipped to provide expert advice and guidance on any issues or concerns. Make sure they are aware of current inventory and possible vehicle options so they can set the correct customer expectations on what is available for them.
By providing a high level of expertise, you can build trust with your customers and establish your brand as a go-to source for all their automotive needs. Sometimes in chat, we'll see repeat customers say "Is so-and-so still there? I bought my last car from them and want to make sure I get them again." Be that person!
5) Show Appreciation for Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is the backbone of any successful business. Showing appreciation for your customers' loyalty can go a long way in retaining their business and generating positive word-of-mouth referrals. Consider offering loyalty programs, discounts, or other incentives to show your customers how much you value their business.
The funny thing is, customers don't even really need much to be enticed. People love free little things, no matter what! That being said, make sure you reward them justly for their repeat business and referrals. (Speaking of free things, we give out a free JBL Speaker or Yeti mug for every qualified discovery call. Interested? Set one up today!)
You can get creative with rewarding loyalty as well. Encourage online reviews to increase positive perception and visibility, which can net further business. Your rewarding of these efforts will not be in vain! These are all small touches that will improve customer satisfaction (and increase and maintain a good customer satisfaction score!)
Customer relationship management doesn't end when you clinch the sale; that's just the beginning. The customer experience is a neverending garden to water and nourish in order to retain customers
A Better Customer Experience in the Automotive Industry is Possible
Improving customer service in the automotive industry is crucial for any dealership looking to stay ahead of the competition. By following the tips and best practices outlined above, you can build long-term relationships with your customers, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, and ultimately outrank other dealership websites on Google.
Elevate Your Dealership Customer Experience with ActivEngage
When it comes to providing a premier online customer experience in the automotive industry, ActivEngage is the gold standard.
Ever since 2007, when we were the first platform to offer fully managed automotive live chat, we have placed emphasis on a smooth, modern customer experience that reassures the customer and positions your dealership as the place to work with.
We can improve your customer service game with our tried-and-true messaging offerings, which include: