The concept of service is changing rapidly in every industry, and much of that can be attributed to consumers and their need for efficiency, excellence, and speed. Shoppers are the driving force behind the new norms in customer care, and that is especially true for automotive, where the stakes are high, competition is fierce, and loyalty comes at a premium. Dealerships are upping their game by providing services and amenities consumers often find irresistible, as well as leaning into conveniences and time-saving measures that convince shoppers to spend their money where they can make their purchase in the quickest and easiest ways possible.

Shopper-Defined Service

The competitive nature of our crowded marketplace makes it even easier for shoppers to dictate their own terms when it comes to the service they’re seeking. And that means in order to stand out in the eyes of consumers, dealerships must not only be willing to provide an over-the-top experience, but also be willing to invest the time it takes to get to know shoppers and understand what makes them tick.

The near-constant presence of digital and mobile media in most shoppers’ lives explains many of the changes the automotive industry is seeing. Shoppers are doing less research in dealerships and are instead performing more online searches to find the vehicles that meet their needs. In fact, according to the Automotive Buyer Intelligence Study, the internet is the number one source for both new and used card buyers, with a full 2/3 of those doing online shopping turning to third-party sites for their information. These numbers have big implications for your dealership, necessitating a plan to strategize and reach shoppers earlier in the buying process, as well as offer service that stands out from the crowd.

Offer an Experience

Shoppers will remember an experience more than they will remember a purchase or a sales pitch. Once you’ve spent some time getting to know your shoppers, it’s important to reach out to them early in their buying journeys in order to share what your dealership has to offer. Although today’s customer-driven service experience may be slightly different from that of the past, one thing remains the same: It’s all about making the customer feel like your top priority throughout the entire process. With that in mind, check out a few of our top tips for combining legendary customer service with the latest tools and technology available to your dealership:

  • Assess what you’re doing. Take a good look at things, especially thinking from the point of view of a customer. Pay close attention to the details like how sales professionals interact with potential customers, whether or not the buying process is smooth and seamless for customers, whether wait times in the service area are reasonable, and whether your technology is keeping up with consumer needs. When you take an overall assessment and grade your dealership in various areas, you’ll find out where you’re succeeding and where you can focus your energy for improvement.
  • Be prepared and use your resources. Your service area is a pretty busy place, so be prepared before customers even arrive. Know who’s had great experiences with you in the past, who’s in the market for a new vehicle, and even who is in a great equity position to purchase. Powerful tools like AutoAlert’s ProfileFuze can help you gain more consumer insights and interact more effectively with customers who are already in your dealership.
  • Streamline your processes. Today’s shoppers are in a hurry, and to top it off, they’re used to having instant access to information, making fast online purchases, and giving feedback and interacting on social platforms. While buying a car isn’t a quick online process, consumers are looking for dealerships that find new and innovative ways to streamline the overall process and make things easier for them. Consider upgrading to state-of-the art communication tools like Pando that can keep everyone on your team working efficiently toward completing a transaction. From paperwork to financing to the detailing and get-ready process, you can speed things up and be a master at efficiency simply by upping your game in the communication arena.
  • Offer an experience. Shoppers will gravitate toward dealerships that offer a buying experience. After all, buying a car is likely the second-largest purchase they will make, so it makes sense to make it enjoyable. Before shoppers even walk into your dealership, you can begin letting them know they’ve found the right place by interacting via social media, sharing fun and relevant articles, and answering questions in a timely fashion. And once they’re on your showroom floor, it’s time to really shine by offering the little amenities that mean a lot. Be sure your pros are brushed up on providing over-the-top service, offer in-house refreshments and comfortable seating, and make free wifi available for the times when waiting is inevitable.
  • Work smart. Today’s technology offers you numerous insights into consumer behavior and shopping preferences, so use this data to your advantage. Instead of relying on in-the-moment observations to guide you when it’s time to sell, lean into valuable data that’s within your reach right in your CRM with tools like ProfileFuze. You can know what makes and models are being shopped and what price ranges are being searched, as well as keep up with previous interactions shoppers may have had with your dealership. With all this information at your fingertips, you’ll be able to provide a higher level of customer service and work smarter rather than harder.

It’s true customers are defining the future of service. Shoppers in today’s marketplace are seeking ways to buy things more efficiently, and when your dealership focuses on the little things that can be done to improve the customer experience, facilitate the buying process, and speed up dealership interactions, you’ll stand out from the crowd. By offering a dealership experience—rather than simply the opportunity to buy a car—you’re telling your customers you care about the things that matter to them and you’re working to make your dealership the one they choose every time.