Study Shows That Car Shoppers Needs and Preferences Are Ignored in 40% of Dealership Sales

Study Shows That Car Shoppers Needs and Preferences Are Ignored in 40% of Dealership Sales

As more and more vehicles tout a range of exciting features, better safety, connectivity and the next best thing in car design, manufacturers and dealers will need to compete on a different sphere – the customer experience. The customer experience is increasingly becoming the most important factor as consumers choose between brands and dealerships.

At the heart of providing exceptional customer experiences is of course the customer. Consumers want to be understood, their needs and preferences considered, and above all, feel valued.

However, a recent Customer Satisfaction Pulse Study conducted by BARE International indicated this is not the case in more than 40% of vehicle sales.  The research found that dealership personnel didn’t gather information such as what the buyer is looking for, how the vehicle will be used and how much a buyer is comfortable spending.

To gain insights from the customer’s perspective, a mystery visit study evaluated three major automotive brands (Jeep, Toyota and Ford) across 10 countries. The study investigated five relevant touch-points of the customer journey:

  • Pre-visit telephone call
  • Arrival at the dealership
  • Sales advisor interaction
  • Sales closing
  • General impressions and recommendations

Key findings from the study include:

Almost 4 out of 10 calls completed to the dealerships were not answered as expected.


Contact information of potential buyers was collected only 55% of the time.


Knowing more about the current vehicle and usage is important to understanding customer needs but consumers were only asked about their current vehicle 65% of the time.


Understanding price tolerance is key to base sales and to upselling however consumers were asked this only 59% of the time.


The Power of Internal Data

Data is one of the most important assets in the marketing mix and can make the difference between selling a new vehicle or driving a prospective buyer to a competitive lot. According to a report by Forbes Insights and Turn, Data Driven and Digitally Savvy: The Rise of the New Marketing Orga..., “Organizations that are ‘leaders’ in data-driven marketing report far higher levels of customer engagement and market growth than their ‘laggard’ counterparts. In fact, leaders are three times more likely than laggards to say they have achieved competitive advantage in customer engagement/loyalty (74% vs. 24%) and almost three times more likely to have increased revenues (55% vs. 20%).”

According to a report by eMarketer, a January 2015 study by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by Adroit Digital, found that 87% of US digital marketers and customer insights professionals cited internal data or 1st party data as the most important data source, especially when combined with 3rd party data enhancement. Additionally, 1stparty data sources would be most important to respondents’ strategy moving forward, with transaction history (87%), customer information (80%) and behavioral data (74%) cited as the most important data types.

In the automotive industry, this means dealerships must be extra diligent to ensure important customer and prospect data is being captured. For example, seemingly simple details such as contact information and current vehicle and usage can provide important insights into who the consumer is and what will get them to buy. While additional 1st party data sets must also be calibrated into the mix, the initial data collection process when engaging with a new prospect in crucial.

Adding Third Party Data Enhancement

You have taken the time to collect some basic contact information – name, email address, phone number and maybe information on the current vehicle the prospect drives.  So now what? The beauty is that this is all you need to start building a comprehensive prospect profile – in real time. With only basic information such as a name, email address, or phone number, a third party data provider can append missing data elements in real time. These elements include age, occupation, marital status, estimated income, lifestyle and interests, home information, and more.  Specialty auto data can also be added such as exact make and model of the current vehicle being driven, other cars in the household or Blackbook value of the car they currently drive.

By tweaking your processes from the moment a prospective car buyer first walks into the showroom, the right data can be captured to create the perfect offer leading to a new sale.  Throwing out the proverbial welcome mat, asking your prospects questions and getting the basics such as a name, email address and other information not only shows consumers you value them and their business, but these basic data elements can provide the foundation to ramp up your customer acquisition strategies to new levels.

Download the Automotive Marketing Data Success Kit to learn more data-driven tips and strategies to target and win with today’s multi-channel automobile shopper. 


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