Unlike myself, not everyone enjoys going to the car dealership to pick out a shiny new pair of wheels. I love it. I celebrate it. My wife thinks I have issues with new cars, and quite frankly, I kind of do. If there is a 12-step group for compulsive car buyers, please count me in. I’ve had my eyeballs set on a shiny new Dodge Challenger RT Shaker Edition. It’s badass. It’s beautiful. It’s powerful. It growls. It screams mid-life crisis. It’s been months since the seed was planted in my brain. I saw her on the Interstate. A brilliant blue. Shiny. Detailed. It had to be mine, and the quest began. The quest took me to the Internet.
I visited Dodge.com, and built it every way from here to Sunday. I stalked auto dealer websites for deals and waited, and watched, and looked some more. Each time I login to Facebook, there they are: ads for Challengers, pulling me in, deeper and deeper. On Instagram, my feed is riddled with modified Challengers and the latest news from Dodge. The car became part of my fiber before I even bought her.
Then it got real. I had to have it. Not wanting to blow an entire day at a local car lot, I started to fill out contact forms and live chat requests inquiring about certain Challengers. The responses and the experiences are what prompted this blog. The online experience with EACH car dealership were equally awful. Here’s why:
- If you offer live chat on your car dealership’s website, use it. Two out of three dealers had a live chat / phone messaging service so that you could inquire about vehicles, etc. One out of two of them didn’t respond at all. Why have it if you don’t use it? In fact, not using live chat shows me, the prospect, that you simply don’t care about earning my business. I’m out and on to the next virtual dealership.
- If you USE live chat on your auto dealership website, don’t outsource the ‘expert’ who is answering client questions. This was by far the most frustrating thing when I was car shopping. I was asking some very specific lease questions and just kept getting pre-canned responses that were completely irrelevant. As the chart shows below, consumers are visiting on average 24 touch points prior to buying, so it’s imperative that you reach out to them with authority at those 24 places.
- Contact forms need to be answered. I filled out three different contact forms on three different sites. Guess how many got back to me? One of them, with an autoreply promising to get back in touch with me ASAP. Still waiting to hear back, meanwhile, I’ve already bought the car from another dealer.
- Crappy and completely non-responsive / non-mobile friendly websites. I realize it’s far more tempting to invest in big inflatable apes and balloons for the dealership, but your website is where many purchasing decisions are being made. Further, most folks aren’t even using desktops anymore to browse. If your auto dealership website isn’t responsive / mobile friendly, you’re probably losing sales to the other guy.
- Website laziness. As I was browsing different Challengers on different dealers’ sites, I noticed the same description being used over and over and over for completely different trim packages. Further, some of the images / photos were simply stock photos from the dealer and did not represent the vehicle at all. Take the extra time to present those cars on your website; it WILL payoff.
How it went down: The dealerships that essentially ignored me, lost. The dealerships that promised to get back to me and never did lost a sale. And a nice sale at that. The one dealership who actually put forth a hint of effort won my business. They responded promptly. They answered my questions, and I was at their lot within 24 hours purchasing a new car. Consumers buy VERY differently today. Is your dealership equipped to meet and service the digital buyer?
Oh, and like a proud dad (with a car addiction issue), here’s my shiny new Challenger I purchased from the dealership who paid attention to me. BTW, if you enjoyed the graphics, be sure to read Google’s report on auto shopping and How Digital is Driving Sales.