When it comes to what consumers desire, “convenience” may not be the sexiest concept, but it is certainly one of the most powerful.
Convenience, according to Google, is defined as “the state of being able to proceed with something with little effort or difficulty.” Let’s illustrate this with fast food, for example. A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that nearly one-third of American adults (85 million people plus) purchase fast food every day. The study indicates that price was not the determining factor as to why these numbers are so staggering; rather, it shows that more and more people are prioritizing time as their most valuable asset.
This trend isn’t going anywhere. The demand for food convenience is growing each day, with restaurant chains rising to meet the demand. Why? Because the customer mindset is all about convenience.
This information shows that convenience reigns in areas way beyond the dealership! Convenience means shopping for anything on Amazon, having groceries delivered to our doors, gassing up at massive “convenience” stores, sending emails instead of letters, having endless entertainment options at our fingertips – essentially, convenience is an important part of every aspect of our modern life. We all rely on it, we all understand it, we all benefit from it … so why do we not always deliver it at our dealerships?
You might ask yourself, “How can my dealership capitalize on the current consumer buying habits?” The simple answer is this: Make buying a vehicle convenient.
From your online visibility to the final steps involved in the sale, ensure that your processes are as convenient as possible for customers (even if it creates more work on your end).
Your website and your social media are great places to start; this is where nearly all of your customers are spending time before physically visiting your dealership, so it’s crucial to be easily accessible for them online. This, however, is only part of the opportunity to earn their business – you must also be consistent and accurate in your communication with them. Are you confident with what happens when a customer reaches out to your dealership while shopping online? If you answered no, you are not alone.
We all know how critical it is to have a website in order to succeed with today’s customer. If you are not online, you are invisible to the majority of your customers. But it’s no longer enough to just “be online”; customers want information delivered instantly and accurately. Your website must be easy to navigate, transparent, and up-to-date (which equals convenience). Gone are the days of simply owning a domain or having a Facebook business page – you must know how to “work” them.
Effective customer communication includes understanding that the goal is still to get them to the dealership, but withholding information to “lure” them in is not as effective today. Old-school tactics will lose your customers’ trust and potentially the sale.
Instead, train your teams to impress customers with quick and accurate responses, a genuine desire to help, and the knowledge to make the buying process convenient. The same goes for Facebook and other social media platforms, not just internet leads and your own website.
Creating processes for your customers’ convenience is vital to the success of online interactions. Your entire team should know and adhere to your digital processes, including timeframes for responses (which is first email, call, text, etc.), greetings for individual sources (social media, website leads, chat leads, etc.), and when to get another employee involved (numbers on trades, interest rates, etc.). To be effective these processes need to be communicated, consistent, and changed as often as needed. Does everyone in your sales department know how to handle a 3 a.m. Facebook lead on a new Toyota Camry? Ask them. You might be surprised!
With today’s shopper, in-store convenience is as essential as digital convenience is. Consistency, accuracy, transparency, and respect for time are all areas that make for a great buying experience from the current customer’s vantage point.
Do your sales people know what to say when a customer comes in after shopping online? Do they know what to say if it is a new customer to your dealership? What about a customer who has bought many vehicles from you previously?
The best way to look at your in-store processes is to know where your customers are coming in to your store from. Are your sales mostly from data mining (tools like AutoAlert), repeat/referral customers, your service drive, internet appointments, great frontage with a lot of genuine walk-in traffic, phone calls, or somewhere else? Knowing this allows you to discuss plans for how to handle your customers in a way that’s most convenient for them. For example, you may want to appraise a trade first for those customers waiting for an oil change. You may want to talk potential payments with a data-mined customer prior to the test drive.
These are just some ideas that may work for your dealership. The best way to make your unique processes effective is to know your customers, and to know what will make their experiences convenient for them.
The Customer Experience Today Is Convenience
Create and then monitor your processes. If they don’t work, change them. Let your customers tell you how they want to be sold, and do your best to make it happen … from that first initial contact to the moment they drive away in a new vehicle. Modern customers are fun, exciting, educated, risk-taking, and looking for your dealership to be their next place to buy a vehicle. Don’t disappoint them!