The consumer buying experience has seen rapid changes in the past two decades. In years past, customers could only purchase items in a physical store. However, with the advent of online marketplaces like Amazon, consumers can buy goods at the drop of a hat. Some transactions even allow customers to receive their items in a day with a subscription to Amazon Prime. Last year, the e-commerce giant peaked at 600 orders per second. One of the main draws to Amazon, and other e-commerce sites like it, is the convenience it offers consumers. Searching and purchasing are easy and straightforward.
The Most Frustrating Part of the Car Buying Experience for Consumers
This experience is not typical for customers who visit automobile dealerships. From interacting with a salesperson to sitting down with a financial manager for a lengthy loan and credit discussion, the process can be burdensome. According to a Cars.com 2017 Dealer Visit Experience study, having limited financing options or experiencing poor customer service affects 1 in 4 walk-in shoppers. Consumers are looking for a speedy and efficient process that allows them to drive their automobile home.
It is in a dealer’s best interest to be more responsive in a world where consumers value speed and efficiency. To increase buyer satisfaction and sales, dealers have to take the headache out of shopping for a car. To do so, auto dealers need to treat everyone at the dealership – ranging from the receptionist to the finance person to the service lane — as salespeople who help shoppers by simplifying the purchase of a car.
Everyone is a Salesperson
Dealers have to realize the customer service and sales experience starts the moment a potential buyer walks into the door. At this point, everyone becomes a salesperson. The receptionist, finance manager, and service crew can equally help to streamline the purchasing process and offer an excellent customer service experience that makes buyers comfortable and motivated to purchase a car. A warm greeting, accessibility, and a more efficient finance process can sell a customer on a vehicle. Therefore, dealers need to understand how important it is to inform each person of their role in the entire sales process. If planned correctly, each position can simplify the lives of shoppers.
The Salesperson’s Role
While various employees can help facilitate a sale, the salesperson should embrace the role of concierge. This is the person consumers will have the most face time with, and they will likely seal the deal before they enter the finance office. Knowing this, salespeople should be prepared to answer any questions consumers have, find solutions to problems that may arise, and make customers feel comfortable. Salespeople are a significant player in the sales experience, but they are not the only one who can make an impact on car buyers. Therefore, dealership managers need to empower the entire team to complement the role of salespeople.
Here are three ways dealers can treat everyone on the team as a salesperson:
- Rethink the process: There needs to be a mindset shift to properly encourage staff to understand their role in the sales process. While the primary focus is on selling cars, the sales process should focus on the consumer. The priority should rest on making the consumer’s process as smooth and favorable as possible instead of just selling the vehicle.
- Make customer service a priority: While the salesperson may be the individual who gets the most interaction with consumers, they are not the only people who should exhibit customer service. Below are a suggested seven core customer service principles that auto dealers can encourage all staff to display in their interactions with customers:
Dealership staff who use these concepts in their work with consumers will increase the success of a sale and leave a good impression for the customer along the way.
- Go past sales metrics: While sales are a necessary indicator of success, they only tell part of the story. A high customer satisfaction score can increase the likelihood of a buyer to come back for a service appointment or recommend the dealership to a friend. Therefore, customer satisfaction is necessary to understand the deeper meaning of sales numbers.
Dealers should remember that a process shift will take time and that it is helpful to reward and acknowledge employees who are putting customers first to continue to encourage the behavior. The takeaway for dealers is that everyone is a salesperson, and dealership staff should be empowered to embrace that concept to make the car buying process simple, convenient, and as stress-free as possible.