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Best Practices for Auto Dealers to Communicate with Customers

Of all the components that add up to a successful sale in the automotive industry, your dealership’s communication with customers is the single most crucial factor your team can control. 

This is especially true today as the customer journey grows more complex, spanning multiple touchpoints, platforms, and channels. In a 2021 survey, automotive marketers ranked creating cohesive customer journeys across channels and devices as their #1 challenge.

But effective customer communication is a two-way street. It’s just as critical that dealers listen to their audience to identify opportunities to improve the customer experience and help customers navigate the buying journey. 

In this blog post, we share how dealerships can improve their customer communication strategies, including:  

  • Listening to their audience 
  • Crafting transparent messaging 
  • Supporting the entire buyer journey  

Listen to Understand Your Audience

We’ve previously discussed the importance of viewing the buyer experience from a customer’s perspective. Understanding your customer is key to meeting their wants and needs, as well as crafting effective methods of communication that resonate with your audience. This starts by listening to what your customers are telling you. 

In the literal sense, directly asking customers how your dealership can improve processes can generate critical insights about your target audience. You can understand what they want and get actionable feedback for your team to improve their approach. 

Regularly send out surveys to sales and service customers that ask direct questions about their experience and allow for customized responses. Don’t stop at self-serve or online forms. Ensure your management team regularly engages customers on the sales floor or in the service drive to inquire about their experience and address any concerns. 

These same questions should also be incorporated into your dealership’s talk tracks or email templates when appropriate. This ensures your customers can quickly provide feedback in the format that suits them best. 

In addition to this direct feedback, your dealership’s entire team (including marketing, sales and service) must leverage data in your CRM and DMS to identify opportunities to both proactively engage and effectively communicate with customers based on their unique wants and needs.  

Craft Transparent Messaging

When it comes to automotive sales, establishing trust with buyers is a critical first step. In a recent industry study, 91% of consumers said “trust” was essential when deciding which dealership to purchase from. 

But when building trust with buyers in today’s increasingly competitive market, dealers need to do more than offer haggle-free pricing or avoid bait-and-switch offers when communicating with customers. Your customer’s entire buying experience should reflect your dealership’s internal culture while meeting the unique needs of your buyers. 

Start by identifying opportunities to engage audiences proactively with brand-focused messaging tailored to topics that matter most to them and in the preferred format. Every communication needs to be consistent, building upon any previous touchpoints, and tailored to each buyer with personalized offers and financing details.  

In short, creating a personalized experience through the proper communication channels can create strong relationships, improve the customer experience of the buying process, and is a powerful first step to better customer relationships.

Support the Entire Buyer Journey 

Personalizing your customer communication efforts should not end after the offer. Today’s car buyers don’t want just a great deal – they want a great dealership experience. This rides on your dealership’s ability to keep them engaged throughout the process via relevant and timely communications and personalized interactions. 

Start by equipping your sales team with the same insights that previously informed your marketing messaging – and engaged your customer in the first place – to ensure the hand-off between departments is seamless. 

To further minimize friction throughout the sales process, look for opportunities to address potential customer concerns proactively. For example, as vehicle prices reach new highs, affordability plays a huge role in many auto shoppers’ decisions. F&I conversations need to be an integral part of your dealership’s marketing and sales process.

Ultimately, for dealership customer communications to be effective, it needs to be a two-way conversation. Collecting, analyzing and applying customer feedback is key to improving your sales and marketing strategies, developing loyal customers, and informing your dealership’s future efforts.