Driving through hard times: how to support your customers

The cost of living crisis is showing no signs of abating, and it’s already having a significant effect on the automotive industry. According to AM Online, one-third of consumers are now planning to keep hold of their current vehicles for a longer period of time.

These shifts in attitude will have a knock-on effect on what dealerships need to do to maximise their profitability. In this blog, we’ll take a look at three ways you can maintain a high conversion rate, and support better customer experiences that can generate more revenue.

Understand your customers

It might sound like an obvious statement, but gaining a true understanding of what your customer wants is critically important at a time when their priorities are changing.

More than a third of dealers have already started to stock more economical cars, but this is only one piece of the puzzle. You should conduct as much research as you can to understand consumer sentiment around model preferences, condition (for used cars), fuel economy, price points, and even additional extras like extended warranties. Integration with platforms like Dealerweb can enable this through easy analysis of customer data, while RTC can provide more over-arching market insights and trend analysis to enable quick decision-making.

At the same time, good communication between retailer and customer is vital throughout the sales journey, so that the customer feels valued and supported. According to Salesforce’s ‘State of the Connected Customer’ report, 88% of customers feel that the experience a company provides is just as important as its product and services. Therefore, making every interaction count and delivering proactive communications through personalised video can make a substantial difference to customer success throughout the sales journey, increasing satisfaction and willingness to buy.

Build confidence in aftersales

It can be difficult to convince car buyers to make further investment into their vehicles through aftersales, and in a cost of living crisis this could potentially become even harder. According to This Is Money, one-third of drivers are currently more likely to forego an annual service for their car in order to save money.

However, that’s not to say it’s by any means impossible, as long as you make every effort to connect sales and aftersales together as one team. Ideally, you should introduce the aftersales department to the customer at the point of sale or vehicle handover. This makes it feel more like an extension of the existing sales journey, and encourages them to come back to your dealership in the long term.

Throughout the aftersales process, it’s imperative to build confidence in the customer that their car is in good hands, as this can make it more likely that they will approve any proposed work. Video has a major part to play in enabling this, as it allows customers to visualise what’s needed and understand explanations in layman’s terms. Our research has found that 41% of owners are more likely to approve repair work if they receive a video detailing it beforehand. Additionally, video can help make your workshop run more efficiently, maximising the number of cars you can work on in a day, and therefore increasing your revenue.

Make transactions easy

With many customers looking at making savings in their day-to-day costs, it’s likely that there could be demand for trading in existing vehicles.

This means that being able to deliver a smooth, fair and stress-free part exchange processes is becoming even more important. Tootle is the ideal solution for achieving this, as it can provide accurate and transparent appraisals that both parties can rely on. It can help build trust in customers that they’re being treated fairly, and makes it much easier for retailers to manage customer expectations.

The need to inspire trust and confidence in customers extends to when their car is in the workshop, not only from a work perspective, but also in terms of managing substantial costs. If customers are concerned that a major bill will impact their overall finances, then solutions like Bumper can allow them to split payments over three, six or nine-month periods and make the overall cost more manageable.

Both of these solutions integrate with CitNOW, so that the full sales journey can be interlinked for smoother, more coordinated experiences.

In summary

These are changeable times, and many customers will feel wary or uncertain when committing to major purchases, whether that be a new vehicle, aftersales servicing or a part exchange agreement. Using technology to make processes easier, clearer, better informed and transparent will prioritise customer success and make car buyers feel more comfortable doing business with you. And as that will make your dealership more profitable and successful, it’s a win-win situation.

Learn more about how CitNOW can help prioritise your customers, whilst generating more sales and increasing workshop approval rates here.