communication

What happens when someone calls your dealership for a service appointment, new car question, or general dealership question? Do they have to leave a message? If they do, is the message returned within 24 hours or less?

Talk to your customers or friends, and you’ll find out that poor communication and customer service are growing. Maybe it’s due to new salespeople, lack of training, or the heady feeling that post-COVID profits have given dealerships a “we don’t have to try as hard” mentality. 

Whether you believe that are not, the hard truth is that planting seeds of discontent with your customers will grow into something that you won’t want. So, what does poor seed planting look like with your customers? 

Real-World Examples

Let’s look at a few examples from the past week. Jason, a CBT News reader, said, “I recently emailed a dealer for information on a [vehicle]. Then I followed up with a phone message. No answer from either [and it’s been] days later.” Is that good communication?

And another. A $7,500 “market adjustment fee” on a KIA Forte in Austin, Texas, was commented on by a prospective customer in their 20s. Jonathan M said, “The principle of the surcharge made me pretty mad. I instantly knew I didn’t want it after the test drive.” But it got worse, “The salesperson said, that’s just the way it is, and we can’t do anything about it and walked away.” Is that good communication?  

As a result, the customer went to the Hyundai dealer for an Elantra because “the great thing about the Hyundai and Genesis dealers here is that they’ve been advertising their no markup policy.” So, the Hyundai dealer was practicing good communication. 

Poor Communication Doesn’t Sell

You can see J.D. Power, Deloitte, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and other studies to back up what you already know. Communication is vital during challenging times. But to many, it’s not apparent, as evidenced by the above examples. However, no one needs a Sociology degree to understand the importance of responsive customer service. 

For example, the Economist Intelligence Unit reveals that 47% of customers had a positive experience when they received a fast response to inquiries or complaints. No dealership principal or BDC director would question that. But as a reminder, here are some of the top complaints from customers today: 

  • No response or delayed responses to phone calls: Particularly annoying were failures to phone calls about an advertised car. Every dealer should know that customers do much of their research online. And when the customer contacts the sales team, they are deep into the funnel. In today’s Amazon instant purchase cycle, not responding within hours will lose the dealership a sale. 
  • No response or delayed responses to emails:This is especially critical when a customer fills out a request form on the website. Consumers routinely express frustrations in getting prompt and accurate answers. If you don’t respond, you’ll be ignored at best or suffer the results of a poor Yelp review at worst. 

The way to counteract this begins with bringing back a customer-first service mentality and then staffing and training your dealership with people who reflect that. The result of that focus will be: 

  • Friendly and Professional Service: Treating others with courtesy, respect, and sensitivity to their needs will always be in style. And studies say it will bring loyalty and recommendations. 
  • Fast Response to Communications: Dealers will always receive compliments and good reviews with quick responses to online and phone inquiries about a car.  

The industry will be flooded with inventory soon enough. Suppose you’ve provided good customer-focused communication over the last two years. In that case, studies show that all of that work will pay off in huge dividends from current customers, their recommendations, and positive reviews. Customer service doesn’t have to be a lost art. And helping others get what they want will always help you get what you want.


Did you enjoy this article from Steve Mitchell? Read other articles on CBT News here. Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic by submitting a letter to the editor here, or connect with us at newsroom@cbtnews.com.

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