7 Ways Auto Dealerships Succeed at Delighting Their Customers

Building a Strong Correlation Between Customer Delight and Retainment

If you thrill them, they will come.

The strong correlation between customer delight and retainment comes as no surprise to most auto dealership managers. The happier a customer leaves the dealership, the more likely that car-buyer will return the next time a vehicle need arises.
Today’s consumers have selective memories, often opting to remember only their most (and least) satisfying shopping experiences. Consequently, it’s no longer enough to simply fulfill a customer’s core needs. Even if you’re offering an economy car, you must “wow” prospective customers like you’re flaunting a top-of-the-line luxury sedan.

Unfortunately, though, some consumers have developed a negative perception of vehicle purchasing. Fair or not, too many associates a dealership visit with pushy salespeople, complicated sales tactics and a wholly unsatisfying overall experience. In fact, a recent study revealed that 75 percent of drivers would consider conducting the entire car-buying process online, avoiding the dealership altogether.

While the conversion from dread to delight doesn’t occur overnight, there are a number of customer loyalty strategies you can utilize with relative ease. Here are 7 ways auto dealerships succeed at delighting their customers:

1. Reverse the Reputation with Strong Service

Your dealership doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with the “dreaded consumer experience” stigma, and thankfully it doesn’t have to share the blame. Exemplary customer service cures most ails. If you want to delight your customer base, start by offering consistently good service. Get the basics right every time by providing service that’s helpful yet not overbearing, responsive yet not assertive and knowledgeable yet not all-knowing. In a world where consumers encounter service fails constantly, your smiling face and guaranteed competency go a long way.

2. Create an Enhanced Customer Experience

Once your customer service is consistently good, it’s time to boost your customer experience to the next level. This starts the moment a potential customer enters your showroom’s door. Appoint a customer care advocate to greet and interact with visitors until a sales team member becomes available. With the incorporation of a few amenities, modern-day car buying can be an enjoyable activity for the entire family:

  • Complimentary refreshments
  • Easy and free Wi-Fi access
  • Designated play area for children
  • Showroom tour and test-driving that are family-oriented


3. Make Your Customers’ Lives Easier

When you make it easy for a customer to do business with you, you have a return buyer in the making. Reduce the time and energy the average customer expends at your dealership by streamlining your loan approval, negotiation, and dealer-financing processes. Make it quicker and easier for customers to take delivery of their new vehicles, and operate as a convenient one-stop-shop by furnishing car buyers with quality service and maintenance offerings. Place tremendous value on your customers’ time demands — grateful vehicle purchasers will take notice.

4. Offer a Complimentary Maintenance Program

Everyone loves a freebie, particularly when it includes complimentary oil changes, tire rotations and vehicle inspections for 12 months following a vehicle purchase. The objective of complimentary maintenance is the achievement of longtime consumer retention through the conversation of vehicle-purchasing customers to vehicle-maintenance customers. At Performance Administration, we construct personalized prepaid maintenance plans designed to encourage service loyalty and repurchase intentions at the issuing dealership. It’s all about keeping your dealership top-of-mind until their next vehicle purchase need arises.

Learn how a maintenance included strategy leads customers down a Road to Retention by including complementary services, planned communication touchpoints, and hassle-free experiences — watch the video.

5. Reward Customer Loyalty

Not surprisingly, customer delight and loyalty are inextricably linked. According to J.D. Power and Associates, loyalty increases dramatically among vehicle owners who are “delighted” with their service experience, as 96 percent indicate they “definitely will” return to the dealer service department while their vehicle is under warranty, and 89 percent indicate they “definitely will” return post-warranty. Consequently, it behooves dealerships to reward loyal customers and keep the delight-loyalty cycle intact. Loyalty reminders regarding complimentary maintenance and perks like a free vehicle exterior wash or oil change represent effective means of nurturing customer delight into continued loyalty.

6. Add a Personal Touch

Personalization comes standard in many delight-inducing customer scenarios. Ensure your valued customers realize you consider them more than simply a revenue number and they’ll, in turn, perceive your product and service offering as different from that of “any old auto dealership.” This personal touch can be accomplished by numerous strategies, including tracking service history with dealer maintenance software in order to provide customized service reminders or thanking vehicle purchasers personally via social media postings. Sending customized birthday cards to vehicle purchasers also represents a nice touch.

7. Do Something Unexpected

Customer delight encourages higher retention rates and unlocks future revenue potential for dealerships. But what’s the best way to delight your customers? It’s by going the extra mile to surprise them with an unexpected perk. Find a way to reward your valued customers with a benefit they had not anticipated, something that brings smiles to their faces. Offer them a complimentary delivery service bringing buyers’ new vehicles to their homes or loan them an electronic device like an iPad should they opt to remain on-site while their vehicle receives maintenance. When delight-seeking customers are conditioned to expect the unexpected from your dealership, then you’re well on your way to cultivating a lifetime customer.