In today’s retail automotive climate, customers have more access to information than ever before. Quite often, a properly prepared and researched customer comes into the dealership armed with more knowledge than the salesperson. This can cause friction, as the customer often interprets the salesperson as deceptive. But in reality, the salesperson may simply not have the information the customer seeks.
In the past, sellers have possessed a distinct advantage over customers, with information only they can access. But no longer. So, how can your dealership use information to foster customer loyalty?
Build Trust or Lose It
According to an article on Inc.com, there are essentially two ways that retailers can use information in a transaction. You can use it to gain short-term profit, or use it to the customer’s advantage to build trust and loyalty. For example, when visiting Amazon to buy a book, if you’ve already purchased it before, Amazon will inform you prior to purchase, in case you forget. This information builds a better and more trusting customer experience.
While customers have access to more information, many don’t have all the facts they need. The reason is quite simple: Vehicle sales transactions are incredibly complicated! There are many pieces to the transaction, price, trade-in value, down payment, interest rate, etc. While many customers focus on payments, they often neglect one or more pieces of the puzzle. In these cases, a dealership can choose to keep the secret (information) to themselves and score higher gross on the deal, or they can assist the customer by advising them and providing information for the best course of action under the customer’s specific circumstances.
If your dealership chooses to keep the information to itself, you run the risk that the customer will find out after the transaction and feel swindled. They may end up disgruntled and post negative reviews bout their experience with your business. As a result, customers will probably take their business elsewhere, because they no longer trust your dealership.
In contrast, if your dealership chooses to share the information to benefit the customer, that very action is appreciated and builds trust with the customer, increasing the likelihood that they will leave happy and continue to do business with you. In addition, they are much more likely to refer their friends and family to your dealership.
What’s the Point?
The long-term success of a dealership requires a customer base it can rely on. It’s no longer a viable business model to continuously be in customer acquisition mode. If you cannot retain your customers, you will end up running in place, and scrambling to replace every customer that defects to your competition. There is no room for growth in that scenario. It is said time and time again: It costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.
The next time you find yourself in a situation with a customer where you have a choice about using information to benefit yourself, keep this lesson in mind. While you may lose a little immediate profit, the long-term benefit (and profit) that comes from a happy, trusting customer is far more beneficial. Think of the future income!