Bianca Benedi takes a look at how customer service can be improved in the auto industry.
The automotive industry is huge, employing 1.7 million people directly and contributing to around 8 million other jobs through the sectors it is associated with. Employing these millions of people are countless businesses, all competing for customers. With so many options to choose from and so much competition out there, good customer service is more important than ever to attract and maintain business.
The unfortunate reality of the auto industry for many customers is that most people aren’t car experts, and disreputable businesses have historically taken advantage of that fact. This means that many customers are inherently distrustful of their auto transactions in a way they don’t feel the need to be for other purchases.
Buying a car is a major financial decision, and the purchase cost isn’t the last time cars may represent a major part of the budget. Above all, good customer service relies on your business respecting the potential stress on the customer of making a major financial decision about a topic they may not be well informed about.
The Path to a Purchase
Your business should always aim to meet your customers where they’re at. This principle can have a number of different meanings, but generally the idea is that your goal should be to provide the level of service your customer needs as they need it — from selling a totaled car to junking an end-of life vehicle.
The first part of this is understanding that customer service starts before you ever meet your customer. Long before someone calls for an appointment or walks onto the showroom floor, they have the thought that something might be wrong with their car. Maybe it needs repairs or to be replaced. Whether you’re a mechanic or run a dealership, this consideration phase is the first opportunity you’ve got to reach your customers. For example, an article explaining the dangers of overlooking signs of mechanical trouble may attract the attention of a customer with a check engine light on that they’ve been ignoring.
Advertising your business in a way that resonates with customers considering a dilemma will help motivate the customers to the next phase, which is seeking a solution to the issue they’ve found. This is the next opportunity you have to show off your customer service savvy and ability to anticipate your customers’ needs. Think about what information you’d like to find if you were to seek out an auto business.
Information like your company’s phone number and location should be easily accessible. Customers should be able to contact your business easily with questions and receive prompt and helpful responses. As our world becomes more and more digital, customers have come to expect a broader range of contact options for businesses and faster response times. Showcase your products or services in a way that is straightforward as well as attractive and on-brand.
When making your sale, know that automotive knowledge is specialized. Instead of exploiting this vulnerability and compromising the trust of your customers and reputation of your business, view this vulnerability as a chance to build trust through great customer service. Use language your customers will understand and check in often through the process to make sure there’s no confusion. Feeling comfortable and knowledgeable through the buying process will increase the customer’s confidence in their purchase, which is good news for everyone.
Once you’ve entered the transaction process, customer service should be your first priority. What many unsuccessful businesses fail to understand is that focusing on profit instead of helping customers is actually the least profitable way to run a business. After all, the best customer is a loyal one! People who trust that you are interested in helping them will recommend your business to people they know and will likely return when the time comes to make another purchase. Advertising online or on TV is important, but nothing beats word of mouth recommendations for building a customer base.
A common stereotype about salespeople in the auto industry is a tendency to be pushy. It’s key to keep in mind that your customer came in to make a purchase. Being overly assertive in an effort to make the sale is usually off-putting. You should think of yourself as a guide more than a salesperson. Provide a genuine case of pros and cons to your customer and help them make an informed decision. This will build trust and confidence in your business that will leave a lasting impression.
Use What You Know
Customers expect individualized experiences that acknowledge them as unique people rather than faceless shoppers. Creating customer profiles and using the information you naturally acquire in the process of running your business will provide an outstanding opportunity to customize your customer service experiences and make your customers feel special and valued. If a customer discusses their teenage child who will be getting a license in a few years, make a note of that in their file and follow up!
Following up after purchases makes customers feel confident they’ve made the right choice and can trust you going forward. Because cars stay in our lives for so long, the relationships you build with your customers will and should be ongoing! Offering rewards for customer loyalty is also a good way to show customers you know who they are and that you value their business. Show your customers you care and your business will thrive!
About the Author
Bianca Benedi is CarBrain.com’s Digital Content Specialist. She writes content that helps users understand the process of selling a vehicle online with CarBrain.com, as well as the copy associated with the brand’s messaging. Bianca enjoys baking, cold lattes, and has a general distaste for the use of ampersand (& the people who use it).