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 interprets the salesperson as deceptive when, in fact, they may truthfully just not have the information.
In the past, sellers had a distinct advantage over customers. But no longer. So, how can your dealership use information to foster customer loyalty?
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 forgot. This information builds a better and more trusting customer experience.
While customers have ACCESS to more information, many – especially in vehicle sales transactions – don’t have all the information they need. And, 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, some may 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 for 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, end up disgruntled and post negative reviews. To say nothing of the fact that the customer will probably take their business elsewhere, since 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, desiring to continue to do business with you. In addition, they are much more likely to refer their friends and family to your dealership.
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, scrambling to replace every customer that defects to your competition. There is no room for growth in that scenario – I am sure you have heard a million times that 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 if you should use information to benefit yourself, or the customer, 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, loyal and retained customer is far more beneficial. Think of the future income!