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Car dealers given customer service wishlist in Auto Trader research

Nick King Auto Trader

Car buyers have told dealers to give them the freedom to browse stock, provide better information on the real costs of cars and provide more comprehensive information on their prospective purchase.

These are the top three improvements given in a survey by Auto Trader of 1,300 consumers’ experiences of more than 250 dealerships.

The top five improvements called for were completed by clearer information on car prices and better information on the best deals available.

Nick King (pictured), Auto Trader’s market research director, presented the research by GFK at the Click Awards on Thursday.

He said buyers often don’t know what they want at the start of their search journey and are open to influence.  A total of 58% consider multiple brands, 46% didn’t know what car they wanted to buy and 29% were open to buying a new or used car at the start of their research.

Dealers acknowledging the ‘wish list’ have a golden opportunity to win business – and consumer confidence.

Research findings:

88% said they bought because the dealer had the right car and spec

76% said they bought because they were treated well by the dealer

74% said they bought from the dealer because the car was good value for money.

Based on past experience, 21% said they were pressured by sales staff, with 17% saying negotiation was unpleasant or slow and 16% believed sales staff didn’t show respect.

If dealers improved the search and sales process:

27% would buy cars more often

57% are more likely to buy from the same retailer as last time

49% would be more likely to buy  the same brand of car as last time.

One in five buyers went to another dealership because of poor service at their first choice.

King also highlighted the importance of an effective website.

“More of the car buyers’ research journey has move online, with consumers now visiting fewer dealerships in person as they switch their attention to mobile, tablet and PC.”

GFK found that 58% of consumers visit dealerships without first contacting them.

Retailer footfall in:

2010: 30 million

2015: 15m

2018 forecast: 7m

And when consumers visit a dealer’s website it is primarily to check the range of stock, prices, availability of the car they want and then more general information such as opening hours, contact details, offers, and a centre location map.

“People are visiting twice as many virtual forecourts as physical forecourts,” the research said. The average number of dealer website visits was 4.6; the average number of dealership visits 2.3, with 85% visiting after 6pm.

Research: % choosing as one of their top five improvements

Freedom to browse - no pressure: 32%

Better information on the real cost of cars: 32%

A 'one stop shop' - find out everything: 31%

Clearer information on car prices: 29%

Better information on the best car deals: 28%

Practical advice on how to get a good deal: 26%

Longer test drives: 24%

Easier access to detailed specifications on cars: 22%

Recommendations and reviews of dealers: 20%

Unaccompanied test drives: 19%

A more flexible way to compare cars online: 19%

Sales people who show greater understanding: 17%

Sales people with better knowledge: 15%

Better photos and video when searching online: 15%

Clearer information on car finance: 14%

A flexible test drive booking system: 14%

Sales people who are more respectful: 13%

Advice on private purchase: 13%

More comfortable in the showroom: 9%

More efficient in the showroom: 8%

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