The Launch Pad brings you innovative ideas and insights from experts and service providers from across the automotive industry. Our goal is to help dealerships find the next big thing to launch their dealership to success.

This week on The Launch Pad, Sofia, from HappyOrNot, brings you new ideas for using customer feedback to improve the customer experience and build relationships.

Helping Dealers Leverage Customer

Feedback to Improve Rankings

Customer feedback is the most basic form of customer experience measurement. Business owners everywhere rely on customer feedback to know what their customers are actually thinking about their brand, product selection and quality of service. After all, the ultimate task here is to provide a memorable experience worthy of a return visit, a 5-Star review and a few referrals.

A great product offering that comes with a superb customer experience provides retailers with a competitive advantage. This case is especially true for auto retailers because of the high price tag that’s attached to vehicles.

Car Buying Experience

Today’s consumers want and expect much more from their car-buying experience than ever before. Extensive online research is done to collect information on the latest auto trends—from fuel-efficient engines and alternate power systems to advanced in-car entertainment systems and much more. They also spend just as much time researching the available financing options and the credit opportunities offered at their local dealerships. After all this research, the logical next step would be to head to the car lot and test-drive a few vehicles.

Interestingly enough though there is a stigma associated with visiting a car dealership, especially those dealerships that deal in used vehicles. Used car dealers have had to fight against the negative perception of having bad service, questionable vehicles and shady employees when in reality the hometown used car dealer is dedicated to providing a great experience. These pervasive stigmas are still prevalent enough that most shoppers would prefer to complete their car purchasing experience online without even visiting the dealership. Accenture surveyed 10,000 US people, along with other countries like France, Brazil and China about their digital experiences before, during and after buying a car. They reported that “as much as three-quarters of the people surveyed said that: if given the opportunity, they would consider making their entire car-buying process online, including financing and home delivery.”

To win the hearts of customers and gain a competitive advantage, car dealerships must not only meet but also exceed the high standards of today’s consumers. What specifically, can dealerships do to up their game?

The Attributes of a Successful Dealership

Let’s look at what separates a successful dealership from an average performing one. Great dealers are very knowledgeable in understanding how best to solve the everyday problems that keep people in cars they hate. They are also knowledgeable in every aspect of the cars they sell. They have to be, so they are able to address all the questions and issues an internet savvy customer will bring. This rigorous approach to car industry knowledge also applies to knowing the customers. The principals of a successful dealership know who their customers are, what they want, their preferences and how to satisfy them. Such intimate knowledge allows dealers to have a competitive edge, to perfect and tailor their sales pitch and to offer customers the utmost value.

Successful dealership owners understand the true value of a customer relationship and are able to cultivate long-term relationships with customers to build loyalty and strengthen their brand.

Internal dealership practices can substantially affect performance. A Mckinsey And Co. study found 3 key practices that can significantly improve a dealership performance:

  1. Talent Management
  2. Customer Loyalty
  3. Performance Planning

Increasing performance rankings and customer foot traffic is possible with a strong commitment to constant improvement. Car dealerships stand to greatly benefit when they allocate their resources to engage customers and employees to boost their customer satisfaction levels.

An example of the Grote Automotive dealership perfectly illustrates this point:

“With the weekly reports, provided by HappyOrNot, we were able to pinpoint the days during the week where we were not adequately staffed or managed. We also adjusted staffing during lunch hours once we knew that service metrics were below our 85% hourly benchmark. We have directly correlated poor sales weeks with poor feedback ratings from customers and have been addressing these issues.”

Improving customer service helps dealerships improve their star rankings, online reviews, and ultimately the bottom line. Start measuring your customer feedback because you can’t manage what you aren’t measuring!

Sofia Sapojnikova is a strategic marketer and passionate communicator at HappyOrNot Americas Inc.

Visit or connect Sofia Sapojnikova on social media. Follow @happyornotcom