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2023 sees big boost in car buying experience satisfaction

Shoppers rated their car buying experience more highly in 2023 than in 2022, reversing course after two consecutive years of declines

Consumers expressed higher levels of satisfaction with the car buying experience in 2023 than the year before, as dealers continue to accommodate evolving shopper preferences with better technology and more convenient processes.

Burdened by the onset of digitization, inventory constraints, and other headwinds, the retail automotive sector found it difficult to provide a high-quality car buying experience in the post-pandemic economy. However, according to Cox Automotive’s new vehicle purchase study, last year’s shift represents the first time in two years that customer feedback moved in a favorable direction, with positivity reaching a peak in 2020 but declining over 2021 and 2022. The year-over-year change was also significant; the 2023 satisfaction rate, including new and used shoppers, was 69%, compared to 61% in 2022.

Dealers continued to demonstrate an exceptional aptitude for providing a quality car buying experience throughout last year. New vehicle shoppers reported a 79% satisfaction rate in 2023, higher than the industry average of 69% and matching the all-time high seen in 2020. Consumers attributed their overall happiness with their purchase to positive interactions with dealership staff and processes implemented to make car shopping easier. Among new vehicle buyers, 77% appreciated their sales representative’s assistance and guidance, 82% enjoyed their test drive, and 79% found the pickup and delivery process convenient.

Customer satisfaction also benefitted from modernized selling practices in the dealership, especially in regard to streamlined processes and technological integrations. Between 2022 and 2023, the time required to purchase a vehicle was cut short by more than an hour, reducing frustration and stress among shoppers and sellers.

Furthermore, an overwhelming majority (71%) said they would prefer an omnichannel approach to the car buying experience, one that leverages both digital and in-store processes to make the process personalized and accessible. Since the arrival of e-commerce, dealers have sought to balance their operations to provide as much flexibility as possible; with the gain in overall satisfaction seen last year, those efforts seem to be paying off. The share of consumers who preferred a zero-internet approach in 2023 was just 8%, while those who desired a fully online experience accounted for only 7% of all buyers.

While the coming months have their own challenges in store for the retail automotive sector, dealers have made significant improvements since the late days of the COVID pandemic, setting them up for an even more successful year than 2023. To maintain their progress and refine the car buying experience even further, the car industry must continue paying attention to consumer preferences and make adjustments that reduce the burden on shoppers, improve flexibility, and make the process more enjoyable for all involved parties.

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Colin Velez
Colin Velez
Colin Velez is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. After obtaining his bachelor’s in Communication from Kennesaw State University in 2018, he kicked off his writing career by developing marketing and public relations material for various industries, including travel and fashion. Throughout the next four years, he developed a love for working with journalists and other content creators, and his passion eventually led him to his current position. Today, Colin writes news content and coordinates stories with auto-industry insiders and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S.

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