Customer service is what your dealership provides to your customers, but their experience is measured by how they feel about your dealership.

Creating an exceptional customer experience is the best way to make a sale or prompt someone to recommend your dealership.

Creating and providing an exceptional customer experience is the ultimate sales tool.

But to do this, you must implement specific steps to make sure that your customer’s buying process is as seamless as possible.

Create a painless online experience

Most in-market buyers begin their search for a car online. The average car buyer spends about 61 percent of their car buying process researching and shopping online1. This data reveals that the customer’s experience usually starts before he or she evens steps foot in your dealership.

So, in order to ensure a quality customer experience, the online process for your customer needs to be simple and efficient.

Personalized URLs, virtual sales events, and other, more advanced, marketing methods (like VIN-specific remarketing) can save your customers’ time and ensure a user-friendly experience that will improve your conversion rates online.

Make the Process More Personal

With so much of the buying process now taking place online, online customer leads should be treated with the same urgency as an “up” walking through the door of your dealership.

Automated responses ensure a quick response to a customer inquiry; however, when it comes to creating an exceptional customer experience, automated responses can convey a lack of interest or care for your customer.

Ideally, an employee from your dealership should personally respond within the hour, whether by email or phone, to any prospects that have shown online interest.

The average buyer today makes less than two visits to a dealership2. So, asking them questions like what led them to your dealership and what they are looking for in a car, can show customers that you care about their buying process and help you make the sale.

Encourage them to come into your dealership and take notes on what they say so you can reference the notes when you meet in the showroom. For example, are they looking for a luxury car, a car to hold a large family, or maybe a car for their child?

Listen carefully to what kind of car interests your customer. If your customer already has a specific make/model in mind, assure your customer that he or she has chosen a great vehicle. Immediately trying to upsell your customer on a more expensive model can cause your customer to lose trust in you as a sales person and/or in the buying process as a whole. Act as a guide for your customers by helping them through the buying process to find exactly what they want in a car.

Step into your customer’s shoes

To understand what your customers experience when they visit your dealership, you must step into their shoes.

What are your current offers?  Are there specific vehicles that your customers might be coming to see?

Make sure you’re showcasing these in a way that immediately catches the attention of the people visiting your dealership.

The next time you’re pulling into you work, notice what stands out at your dealership. Discern what could be improved and what you think works well within your dealership set up. Sometimes even the little things, such as a noticeably overflowing trashcan or showroom sign that’s slightly askew, can turn potential customers off.

In a world where people constantly share their opinions to a large audience on social media, make sure that your showroom and service areas are just as immaculate as your new cars.

Everything your customers see and everyone your customers interact with affect their customer experience.

Encourage Your Departments to Work Together

You’ve heard it before: “Team work makes the dream work.” Though cliché, the adage holds true and should be implemented into your dealership’s ideology.

To guarantee a great customer experience, the atmosphere of your dealership needs to present as cohesive and approachable. If you greet a customer on the sales floor but they’re looking for the service department, don’t simply point them in the right direction. Walk with them and introduce them to a service representative.

If a customer wishes to browse the inventory while waiting for their car to be serviced, a service representative should personally lead the customer to a sales representative.

This type of customer service creates a better customer experience.

Follow up with anyone that visits your showroom

Nurturing relationships is the best way to make your customers feel valued.

Even if a prospect walked out of your showroom without buying anything, always follow up with a personal email or phone call to thank them for coming in and ask if they have any further questions.

Ask for feedback! If a person didn’t end up making a purchase, ask what led them to that decision and if there is anything you can do to better improve their buying process.

If you did make the sale, then continue to reach out to the buyer to build a relationship and make sure they’re happy with their purchase. Alert them about relevant news, such as recalls, service updates, or general maintenance information.

The more often they’re at your dealership, the more likely they are to purchase their next vehicle from you in the future.