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Tommy Tutone said it in 1981 and many of you reading this know that number. It’s Jenny’s number. And we remember it. Why? Sure, it was a catchy song and has become a staple in early pop music, but it does hold a hidden gem that every car dealer would be thrilled to possess.
For dealerships, customer information is only the beginning of the tools they need to turn a shopper into a buyer. Dealerships have been paying tens of thousands of dollars to get information about customers who are in-market for a vehicle via many different advertising sources including e-mail leads, conversion forms, and widgets as well as via chat. Historically, the problem has been that the information received is either incomplete or inaccurate, which means the dealer paid $20+ for useless information. Even if a salesperson can use that lead to contact the customer, the conversations usually begin not about the potential vehicle, but about the price, down payment, and other financial issues involved in this major transaction.
Even that customer who just pulls up on the lot is hit by the same questions from the salespeople because that’s what they’re trained to do. Bad credit? Bring them in immediately, and have them fill out a credit application. Great credit? Show them whatever they want. But what if customers aren’t forthcoming with their information? Or the information they give isn’t accurate?
The sales process, by necessity, has to start all over again. And auto shoppers don’t like it. (P.S. Neither do sales managers.)
In today’s modern society, consumers are used to efficient and frictionless communication that leads to them getting what they want. And, while consumers do tons of research, visit upwards of 24 touch points on their buying journey and come to the dealership armed with information, statistics say that 80% of them don’t purchase the vehicle they came in to buy. Also, even though they did all of this pre-visit research on the vehicle they came in for, they did none on the one they actually become interested in. They are, however, hesitant to call into a dealership for the simple reason that they are afraid of being harassed. They will, however, chat with a dealer. Why? It’s more convenient and they can remain anonymous if they choose. Yet, if the customer has a good experience in chat and their questions are answered, they are much more likely to choose to do business with that dealership.
What if the conversation could start differently? What if there was a touch point that would allow the dealership to have more information at the beginning of the conversation with which to better serve shoppers, give them more accurate information and provide a smoother customer experience that leads to a sale that much easier?
I know of no dealers who would say that they would prefer less information about a customer in the beginning. It makes the process not only more arduous for managers at the dealership, but also for the customer. And while in 1981, it may have been as simple to contact Jenny as having a dime and her phone number, it’s not that simple anymore. On top of that, when we’re talking about what, for most individuals, is the second most expensive investment that they’ve made in their life, definitely, more information is needed up front from the customer to provide accurate answers.
Luckily for dealers, the technology exists today that allows conversations to happen between customers and dealerships in which the dealership can access information which allows them to have a more knowledgeable and 2-sided conversation with customers. And that creates less friction, builds more trust and leads to increased closing percentages.
There are certain steps in the “stereotypical” buying process that indicate purchasing behavior. One of those is the customer allowing the dealership to pull their credit. No customer wants to visit 27 dealerships and have them all pull his or her credit. Not only is that time-consuming but it’s actually detrimental to their goal – to buy a car.
Imagine being able to start a conversation with a customer who allows you to do a soft pull of their credit in order to give them accurate answers. Would that help you sell more? Would it impact the customer experience? Would it help the dealership navigate around the negative stereotypes in the industry? Yes, to all of the above.
Consumers want instant information. That’s the exact reason why technologies have evolved to allow consumers to interact with businesses without having to pick up the phone. The problem is that, oftentimes, those digital interactions are one-sided, and the business is left with nothing but air from their interaction.
Digital communications like chat and text are the preferred method of communication nowadays. Chat allows dealers to give shoppers accurate answers quickly and leave the conversation with vital customer information, which is imperative to business growth both in the immediate and long-term future.
Information can only be accurate, relevant and trustworthy if it is two-sided. It enhances the conversation, builds trust and opens the door to pre-purchase commitment behavior.
And that’s much more likely to make a sale than a dime and a phone number.