Chances are you’ve heard it before. They pop up in your CSI results, and it’s a common complaint on social media channels and dealer review sites. You may have even gotten an earful straight from customers, as they express their frustration and dissatisfaction with the automotive sales process. And those are the folks who actually bought a car, who just devoted hours of their time spending thousands of their dollars at your dealership.
Think about that for a second.
Your team spent three hours turning a willing customer into an angry buyer. It’s eye-opening because selling cars is a relationship business – and it always will be – yet customers view that relationship as an unpleasant hassle. Why? According to the Cox Automotive “It’s About Time” whitepaper, three of the key reasons are time, negotiations, and the trade-in process:
#1. Buying a car can be like going to the movies. Twice.
According to the 2014 IHS Automotive Buyer Influence Study, 55 percent of new car buyers and 57 percent of used car buyers experienced frustration during the vehicle purchase process, largely due to the amount of time it took to complete the sales process.
Tip: Implementing Digital Retailing tools on your website allows shoppers to jumpstart the buying process online. When that online experience is integrated into your in-store process, the experience of buying a car is faster, efficient, and more relaxing.
#2. Negotiating a purchase price can be worse than a root canal.
Multiple personnel, missed communication between salespeople, and the constant reworking of the deal, make the traditional negotiating process and tactics more cumbersome than needed. Today’s shoppers have done their research online, and want to arrange deal terms in a way that’s more transparent, convenient, and efficient.
Tip: Deal communication platforms such as MakeMyDeal build shopper trust and accelerate purchase decisions because it empowers a direct, one-to-one online connection with buyers, allowing you to make deals and finalize terms prior to the showroom visit. Allowing shoppers to pencil their own deal right on the vehicle details page (VDP) builds trust and enables your sales consultants to more quickly understand what buyers are looking for in terms of pricing and features.
#3. Getting a good trade offer can be like finding the last unicorn.
More waiting, more hand-off, and less communication between more people can make the trade process frustrating. The study found that, on average, this step alone took over half an hour at the dealership. That’s confounding, to be sure – and it doesn’t include the confusion that comes from getting different valuations from different software systems.
Tip: Digital Retailing tools on your website should include a realistic trade-in appraisal tool. Connecting the online and in-store trade process reduces confusion, boosts transparency and streamlines the steps.
Compete on experience and authenticity, reduce the trust gap.
The takeaway is pretty simple and very powerful: a lengthy process damages the authenticity of the experience. The Cox Automotive study found that customer satisfaction is highest within the first 90 minutes at the dealership, but once past those 90 minutes, smiles quickly turn to frowns. Today? The entire traditional experience lasts close to three hours. Changing that requires an online to in-store approach that bridges the work shoppers do on your website with the experience they have in your showroom. Reducing this time reduces the trust gap between salesperson and buyer, and that creates an experience focused on making the buyer feel as though they are a part of an authentic relationship that puts their needs first.
Mike Burgiss is the vice president of Digital Retailing at Cox Automotive