Despite the care and time you put into building quality inventory, all it takes is one bad experience to lose even the most loyal customer. In a constantly connected world, the right vehicle at the right price is just a click away. Excellent customer service, on the other hand, can be hard to find.
Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Customer” study found that 76% of consumers say it’s either critical or very important for salespeople to be “focused on helping achieve their needs, not just on making a quick sale.” However, it’s important to understand exactly what “good customer service” means. While everyone may have different expectations when making a purchase, the idea can be broken down into four simple concepts:
- Friendly employees
- Personalized experiences
- Easy-to-find information
- Satisfied customers
But why does it matter so much?
First, look at your buyers. According to McKinsey, by 2025, over 45% of car buyers will be millennials. Consider the companies that this generation has grown up with and use on an almost-daily basis: Uber, Amazon, Airbnb, to name a few. One thing stands out: they all offer a personalized, online customer experience that stands in sharp contrast to the stereotypical car buying process.
Today’s buyers are always connected, so customer service means more than just what happens with buyers on the lot. Providing easy access to tools and resources online has never been more critical to reach and influence these shoppers who will soon represent almost half your business. Your first chance to provide an excellent experience is not when customers walk onto your lot—it’s online as they’re researching their purchase.
Service contracts are no exception here. Start building trust from the start by showing customers that you understand the uncertainty that comes with making such a significant investment. Before you’ve even spoken with a potential buyer, make them feel comfortable that you’ve got their best interest at heart by being straightforward about what service plans you offer and what they protect (and what they don’t) from the start.
It’s also important to consider the simple fact that new customers are expensive. It can cost up to 16 times more to bring a new customer up to the same level of profitability as a lost one. That expense, combined with the fact that 89% of consumers will start doing business with a competitor after a poor experience, is worth trying to avoid at all costs.
Let’s look at the numbers behind loyal customers.
- A 2% increase in customer retention is the same as cutting business expenses by 10%.
- Loyal customers are five times more likely to purchase again and four times more likely to refer a friend to the company.
- Customers tell an average of nine people about a positive experience with a brand, but they tell 16 people about a negative experience.
A positive customer support experience online and on the lot can make the difference between a lifetime of loyalty and losing customers to the competition. And your F&I provider plays a huge role in the experience your buyers have down the road. If your provider’s customer service goals match your own and they’re able to provide an outstanding claims experience should your buyers need it, you can go a long way in cultivating a customer relationship that lasts well beyond just a single transaction.