Lead times of new cars, from order to handover, are longer than ever. As you are more than likely experiencing, it isn’t uncommon for customers to have to wait more than six months, or perhaps close to a year, to take delivery of their new vehicle.
All this means that retailers face a challenge to manage their customer relationships, and ensure that car purchasing remains an enjoyable, personal and emotive experience for the customer. It’s important from a sales perspective, too: at a time when the lead times are deterring customers from placing orders or cancelling after placing the order, effective management can potentially help to reduce that drop-off.
In this blog, we’ll explore the different role that the sales team has to play in keeping customers satisfied throughout the customer’s purchase experience, and how technology and effective communication can help keep customers informed and excited throughout.
Over such a long period of time, managing the customer’s feelings and expectations so they don’t feel dissatisfied is an absolute must. A lead management tool like Dealerweb Showroom can be extremely useful, helping to ensure that retailers don’t lose customers in a cycle where contact points may be relatively few and far between.
In Dealerweb Showroom, customer status is automatically defined during the sales cycle (such as live, ordered, handover arranged, or delivered), and sales teams are alerted when contact should next be made. Keep in touch reminders can also be scheduled – triggered at set timeframes – to ensure customers remain engaged. Notes can be made within the customer profile detailing the next planned contact, and salespeople can be alerted at the right time through the Dealerweb dashboard.
Once a salesperson receives an alert, they can then explore all the functionality within CitNOW to contact the customer in a way that will stimulate their interest. Sending a video may not be expected by the customer, but it provides a chance to personalise the communication, and can be quicker than a phone call.
Talking to customers at regular intervals is important to retain their interest, and also to keep them informed of progress within the delivery cycle. The last thing a customer will want is uncertainty, to be kept in the dark, or to have to chase information. Furthermore, they will appreciate sales teams who are proactive and explain any problems clearly.
It is worth thinking about the different types of video content that a retailer can use to keep a customer excited. For example, an update on the order status using a new car video purpose that shows the car they have ordered helps keep the anticipation alive along with a pro-active update. Or how about a feature video that highlights or explains a particular area of the car that will be new to the customer to help build anticipation and excitement. It can also serve as a useful educational tool that can help the customer get up to speed quickly once they take delivery.
Through every contact, however, honesty is always the best policy, even if the news isn’t what the customer wants to hear (such as a delay to delivery). If an unexpected problem has occurred, it’s better to be up front about it and explain what’s happened, so that the customer has a full picture of the situation.
Long lead times have a major impact on how part exchange fits into the sales process, and it’s something that all retailers have to bear in mind.
In particular, with the used car market currently as strong as it is, the car that a customer is trading in could be worth more at trade-in time than it is at the point when an offer is made. This is where a part exchange tool like Tootle, which uses up-to-date and independent cap hpi data, can be so useful for retailers.
It gives customers an insight into an accurate current market value for the car being offered for trade-in. At the same time Tootle ensures that trade-ins are digitally appraised. This can be once, or twice if required – once at the point of offer and again at order delivery time – to ensure that any deterioration in car condition can be accounted for when confirming the part exchange value along with any change in market value. An expiry date is included for any offer issued by the retailer, which provides clarity for both parties.
However long your current lead times might be, CitNOW Group has the solutions you need, and the integrations between them, to make customer management easier and smoother. Find out more here.