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Proactive Ways to Improve Customer Experience in the Automotive Industry

As consumers' buying habits change and customers increasingly shop around, dealers are facing a new challenge – and growing opportunity – to provide an excellent dealership customer experience (CX) that checks all the boxes of the modern buyer.

In the past, pricing and selection played a major role in buyers’ purchasing decisions; however, as new and used vehicle costs remain high and interest rates rise, the dealership experience is playing a progressively bigger role in buyers’ purchasing decisions.

As the buying journey increasingly takes place across multiple channels, to identify ways to build value into every step of their sales process. In today’s hyper-competitive market, this requires an intentional approach to proactively improve the dealership customer experience.

How Do Successful Dealers Manage Customer Expectations?

While some factors like rising interest rates and high prices can be out of a dealer’s control, there are numerous ways dealership teams can proactively improve the customer experience at every step across platforms.

It’s important to view the dealership customer experience through the buyer’s perspective, looking for opportunities to proactively improve the efficiency of their process. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, to proactively improve the dealership customer experience and achieve higher CSI scores, dealers must first:

1. Save Your Customers Time

In the age of instant gratification, time is everything. Consumers are continually seeking ways to optimize their experience to get the most out of the time they spend shopping. Recognizing this, successful dealerships are prioritizing time-saving measures across the sales process.

From the start of their adventure, online appointment booking tools allow customers to select a time slot that fits their life, making dealership visits more predictable and efficient. Down the line, virtual car tours give shoppers the freedom to explore a vehicle's features from the comfort of their home, eliminating the need for multiple in-person visits to check on details.

Proactive dealerships are also adopting digital paperwork processes, reducing the hours spent signing documents and waiting at the dealership. Some even offer home deliveries for car purchases – one of many residual practices from the pandemic – bringing the entire buying process to the customer's doorstep.

All these initiatives convey a critical message to the customer: Your dealership values and respects their time. This creates a more enjoyable buying experience by intentionally nurturing trust, setting the stage for a lasting relationship with the customer.

2. Revisit the Rules of CRM

Are your CRM rules still reflecting the way you want your customers cared for at your dealership? Are they reflective of current market demands? Too many dealerships “set and forget” their CRM rules, and too few get dealership leaders together to review the rules and ensure they reflect reality and best practices.

Customer relationship management for proactive dealers isn't just about maintaining a digital database of your customers, it's about understanding them as best as possible. Top dealers regularly revisit their CRM strategies to ensure they capture customer experience insights, track preferences and anticipate needs.

Integrating feedback loops and evolving with consumer buying behavior are both necessary steps for dealers trying to stay ahead of the curve. Leveraging the full extent of your CRM, dealers can write creatively tailored messages and personalized offers, which are the perfect way to make regular check-ins more engaging. This cements strong relationships with customers.

3. Improve the Dealership Service Experience

According to research from Google, after the sales experience, a customer’s maintenance and service experience was ranked No. 2 in influencing automotive brand loyalty.

Conversely, a bad or unsatisfying dealership service drive experience puts your service customers’ loyalty at risk. Losing a service customer means not only losing service ticket revenues, but also likely their next vehicle purchase.

To retain service customers and hopefully convert them into service-to-sales customers, focus on ways your dealership can break down the barriers between you and your customers. Consider tactical ways of improving the dealership service experience that meet customers new and evolving expectations, such as:

  • Complimentary vehicle pick-up and delivery
  • At-home maintenance services
  • Video calls with service advisors for initial diagnostics and evaluations
  • Continuously updated messaging on your website and marketing materials regarding all current safety guidelines and expectations

How Can Proactivity Meet Customer Experience (CX)?

In the past, the relationship between dealerships and their customers typically began the moment they stepped onto the showroom floor. But in today's increasingly connected, growingly digital world, customers will more than likely get their first impression of your dealership well before they come into the showroom. 

Proactive dealerships are utilizing personalized, data-driven predictive marketing tools like Mastermind to transform high-value prospects into loyal customers. By leveraging these platforms to create effective touchpoints, they ensure their messages resonate with the right audience.

By engaging prospects with tailored offers that align with each customer’s unique expectations, dealers can lay the groundwork for an outstanding dealership CX starting from the very first touchpoint.

In today's market where personalization is highly sought after in various consumer interactions, tailored marketing communications stand out. Proactive dealerships are addressing individual needs and preferences to demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction and support a strong foundation for exceptional CX, paving the way for sustained loyalty and future sales.

As car buyers increasingly rely on multiple channels to research and buy a vehicle, the dealership experience you provide plays a crucial role in their purchasing decision. A streamlined sales process that respects a customer's time can make all the difference.

By embracing real-time digital tools and engaging customers across platforms with data-driven, personalized marketing, dealers can elevate the buying process and ensure every step seamlessly fits into the modern customer's journey.

Want to learn how Mastermind can help you improve the dealership customer experience across touchpoints? Request a demo.