Good customer service is essential to success and should be at the heart of every car retailer’s business. While still important, customer service is no longer just about your sales team interacting with potential buyers when they walk into your showroom. Making a good first impression is now more than ensuring you have a crisply ironed shirt, straight tie and a smile.

Car buyers are finding out about your business long before they walk through your door. More than three-quarters of consumers use the internet while vehicle shopping, according to The Car Buyers Report from AutoTrader. In the digital age, first impressions are developed by what your customers find online, either via your website, a search engine or social media.

 

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Search engine first impressions

Today’s time strapped consumers use search engines or even voice search to find what they’re looking for. Ask iPhone’s Siri “where is my nearest car dealership” and the virtual assistant will use Apple maps to list those close to your location with reviews from aggregate sites such as Yelp beneath names. Search a similar query on Google and you’ll get endless pages of suggestions and a similar list with star ratings prominently displayed.

If customers search for your business by name on Google, a box on the right hand side of the screen, called the Knowledge Panel, provides your company’s vital details, alongside your Google Review and those from the web, such as AutoTrader and Facebook.

This prevalence of previous customer satisfaction information is highly likely to influence future customers’ perceptions of your business. Or even if they’ll consider buying from you in the first place. Maintaining a positive public image online will ensure car buyers are coming to your dealership at the end of the research phase of their car buying process, which takes on average 2.7 months, according to Google.

 

How to ensure your dealership looks its best online

Generating and maintaining a good public image is a combination of almost every aspect of your business. Firstly, you must have a presence in the first place, which means having a website. Car retailers without websites are missing a potentially enormous customer base. However, you must also ensure your website is intuitive, easy to navigate and up-to-date.

The quality of the products you’re selling – cars, services and financial aftercare to name just a few – will also have an impact, of course. Knowledgable, friendly and helpful sales staff is also essential. Avoid the hard sell and always listen to your customers’ before offering additional products that may benefit them.

Following up with past customers can also be extremely effective. If they’re happy with the service they received, ask them to post a review online. If they’re not happy, find out why and offer a way to fix the issue. If you find a negative review, ensure you have a robust customer complaints procedure in place to deal with it, and respond in a timely manner.

 

Further advice on enhancing your customer service can be found in our latest eBook.

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