A Shopper Asking Questions Means Your Dealership Is in the Running- Don’t Blow It
This article originally ran in the July/August 2023 issue of Digital Dealer. Full issue at this link: Click Here
By Tiffany Peeler, Vice President of Sales & Operations, Proactive Dealer Solutions
Dealers today first meet most of their customers online, not in person. Various studies have shown that the average buyer visits only two dealerships before purchase. It shows that dealers who respond quickly, personally, and completely to website customer inquiries sell more vehicles. Yet, the majority of dealerships don’t answer questions. Leveraging mystery shopping can help you to uncover invaluable insights and identify training opportunities to equip your team and dealership for success.
The Pitfalls of Pressuring Customers and Failing to Provide Answers.
Instead, dealership employees too often fall back on the age-old playbook of pressuring customers to come into the dealership. Guess what? Customers don’t want to come in; they want answers! So, they ignore that “invitation” (more like a command) only to be bombarded with irrelevant automated CRM-templated emails and texts (assuming they opted-in with a lead form) that have nothing to do with the original inquiry. The outcome of this misstep is a direct loss in sales. Customers perceive the dealership as too difficult to work with, so they cross them off their list. As a dealer, you can either practice hope - meaning, you hope your team is answering customer questions and delivering a terrific experience - or you can know what’s truly happening through a mystery shop that unveils problem areas and serves as a springboard for employe etraining on how to meet the needs of today’s customers.
Omnichannel and the Car Buying Process
A mystery shop only grows in importance as consumers rely more heavily on omnichannel experience (including digital tools) during the buying process. The term “omnichannel” is thrown around a lot. In a nutshell, it means that consumers expect to be able to submit an online lead, talk to a salesperson on the phone, use your chat function, send a text, and have all that communication gathered and recorded in one place. So, when they do come into your showroom, you know that were questions answered, their interactions/work done online, and you’re ready to oversee the test drive and speed through the signing ceremony.
Unfortunately, internal research reveals that 90% of dealers aren’t delivering on this expectation - even though they promise it to customers. Guess what? Customers hate feeling like you’re wasting their time. Even if they buy from you, don’t expect a stellar review or repeat business.
Leveraging Mystery Shopping at Your Dealership
The only way to know what your customers are experiencing is to become a customer yourself - or hire a company to do it. A vendor specializing in mystery shopping for the automotive space will help you define your objectives and quickly create shopper personas. Then, they will get to work submitting leads, placing phone calls, engaging via chat, and sending texts. The last step is compiling results and helping you nail down and execute strategies and tactics to deliver a better experience.
When putting mystery shopping into action:
Expect your technology to be tested according to the aspects you want to evaluate. Are voicemail boxes able to take messages? Are chatbots answering questions? Is your CRM collecting and archiving online customer activity?
Expect your team to be tested according to the aspects you want to evaluate. Are salespeople referencing the CRM when responding to customer inquiries and acting off customer history or ignoring it? Do salespeople return calls according to your specified time frame? Do salespeople greet customers with a smile and immediately ask if they’ve used your digital retailing tools?
Expect a scorecard with measurable results and an improvement plan. After all, knowing is only half the battle. What you do with the learnings is what will improve the customer experience.
The Invaluable Role of Dealership Mystery Shopping in Driving Customer Satisfaction and Sales Growth
No one is suggesting that employees are purposely cannibalizing leads, far from it .Meeting customer expectations in the digital age is a skill set that must be taught. However, training must derive from observable and measurable shortcomings. That’s why mystery shopping is irreplaceable. A top-four automaker recently underwent an intensive mystery shop analysis and training program and gained a 10-point lift in scoring - correlating to higher customer satisfaction and more sales. Give your dealership the opportunity to realize the same profitable results.
Tiffany Peeler is the VP of Sales & Operations for Proactive Dealer Solutions. Tiffany joined the Account Management team in 2014 and quickly became recognized for driving growth and retention with her expertise in developing and delivering effective coaching solutions. Today, Tiffany leads the sales and fulfillment teams with a laser focus on delivering industry-leading solutions to improve upon the customer experience and radically improving dealership profitability for over 1,200 North American dealerships.