Ensuring used car dealers are easy for customers to deal with is the biggest challenge facing retailers, according to Ray Harkin, operations director, Martec Europe.
Showroom staff’s propensity to pre-judge or ‘pre-qualify’ depending on the contact method, tone, tact and language used could damage customer perception and business success, he said.
A dealer should also ensure it matches the most popular ways customers are using to reach out, said Harkin.
“It’s easy to build a relationship face-to-face or on the telephone, but the explosion in the last 10 years in the way customers can contact and interact with us means we can’t choose,” he said.
Harkin recounted meeting a dealership salesman who said if a customer didn’t include a telephone number in a web enquiry he wouldn’t take it seriously “because the customer wasn’t serious”.
“The salesman didn’t understand that including a number didn’t suit the customer’s lifestyle,” Harkin said. He urged salespeople to never pre-judge a customer on their initial enquiry – every enquiry must be treated as valid and as “precious”.
Regarding web enquiries, Harkin advised moving at the customer’s pace and warned against replying to enquiries with questions.
“If the first thing you do is ask for information on an enquiry, the consumer might not want to continue.” On Live Chat, he advised against working to a script – “be genuinely interested in what the customer has to say”.
Enquiries sourced on social networks need to be made personal, he said, and with telephone enquiries, be unique: “Compel the customer to visit the showroom to experience what you can’t share on the phone.”