4 Steps to Redefine the Consumer Experience

Focusing on the customer journey means improved relationships, greater understanding of shoppers' needs, and increased sales

The automotive industry has always been known for looking toward the future—and promising innovations—so it’s no surprise it continues to do so, keeping pace with the breakneck speed of current technological updates and consumer needs. At the most recent NADA Convention in Las Vegas, we saw industry pros offer up the most cutting-edge ways to give shoppers the best experiences, as well as solutions to facilitate the car-buying process and advance the areas of customer service, communication, and interaction.

It’s no secret things are changing when it comes to the consumer experience. In fact, rather than keep a primary focus on the sales funnel—which has historically been a priority for automotive and many other industries—professionals have now realized that a more diligent focus on the customer journey will result in improved relationships, a greater understanding of shopper needs, and, in turn, increased sales.

The newest tools and technology for automotive professionals are powerful, and they’re focused on offering the best consumer experiences possible. Any dealership can offer a wide variety of vehicles; those that provide the best customer experiences, however, will succeed in bringing shoppers back time and again. Not only will shoppers return because of exceptional experiences, they will spread the word to their friends and acquaintances, effectively boosting business via word-of-mouth referrals.

Your customers are focused on everything that can make their buying experiences more pleasant. From enhanced communication to quicker replies to online questions, from personal interaction to the immediacy of on-the-lot comparisons, from more efficiency throughout the sales process to better communication in the service drive—it all matters and figures into consumer perception of your dealership.

Perception is crucial

The perception your customers get when they first interact with you can make or break a deal. Most dealerships already know today’s shoppers make their first contact with dealerships before they ever set foot on the lot, so it’s important to take a close look at the tools and technology you’re using to connect with shoppers before they ever meet you face-to-face.

From the very first point of contact, everything you do builds toward creating a positive and rewarding consumer experience, one that will bring shoppers back to you for maintenance, repairs, and future purchases.

4 steps to positive perception

By being a leader in the following areas, you’ll ensure you’re leaving shoppers with a positive perception that drives them directly to your dealership.

  • Check your tech. Whether you’re updating your existing technology, implementing new tools, or reinventing your website, be sure everything is running smoothly before you introduce it to shoppers. Customers are more likely to leave and look elsewhere when things are glitchy, slow, or altogether not working. It’s worth the extra time it takes to ensure everything is running smoothly and is ready for your customers.
  • Invest and innovate where it counts. There are many new tools on the market, so take the time to review your dealership’s pain points and find what’s right for you. Look for ways you can solve a variety of issues, enhance the consumer experience, and simplify the buying/selling process with innovative products. When you are able to streamline your updates and positively affect the consumer experience, your investment will have more value.
  • Improve communication. When you improve communication, everything will run more smoothly. Work to continuously train your employees and give them tools to better share information with shoppers, as well as communicate between departments. By implementing valuable communication tools, you’ll be able to speed up the car-buying process for shoppers, improving their overall experiences.
  • Stay social. If your dealership isn’t already active on social media, it’s time to invest your energy in this area. Shoppers are spending a majority of their time comparing and sharing on social platforms, and when you actively engage and listen on social media, you’ll get a better idea of the ways you can provide experiences shoppers are looking for.

As we all saw at NADA—and as we’re seeing with every changing trend and consumer preference—the future of automotive is now. Dealerships that are prepared to innovate and improve the consumer experience will keep shoppers coming back for more. By showing you’re willing to offer the solutions shoppers are seeking in a changing marketplace, you’ll reassure customers they’re in the right place to meet their automotive needs.

Joey Little serves as director of digital and social engagement for AutoAlert. An expert in customer experience management, he educates automotive professionals at speaking engagements across the country. With results-driven advice and proven industry knowledge, he assists dealerships in reaching their audiences and increasing business via their social platforms.

Joey Little


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