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Importance of customer service closes gap with online car buying enquiries

Neil Addley, managing director at JudgeService

The importance of good customer service is growing following a reliance on online car buying enquiries during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to JudgeService.

The reviews specialist’s latest market research showed that the number of car buyers which state that the internet is their favoured place to make enquiries has fallen to 32% from a peak of 41.6% at the height of the pandemic.

At the same time a good dealer experience was the top priority of 23.5% of buyers in Q2, up from 19% in Q2 2019 and 16% during lockdown 2020’s Q2 lockdown.

Neil Addley, the managing director of JudgeService, said: “When it comes to identifying the most effective sources of customer leads, our data shows a return to some form of normality after the disruptions of the last two years.

“While our analysis of the current quarter shows the ongoing importance of online channels in driving customers to dealers, it also highlights the role of repeat business with nearly a quarter of all customers saying they returned to dealers where they have had previously enjoyed a good experience.”

Addley added: “Nurturing and retaining customers are more important now than ever as dealers work through the ongoing challenge of new and used car shortages and managing the expectations of customers facing long waits.

“This is where having previously delivered a good experience will make open conversations easier as dealers navigate the supply issues and keep customers on board,” said Addley.

Earlier this month Suzuki's franchised retail network celebrated after their brand was ranked as the UK's top automotive brand for customer satisfaction in the Institute of Customer Service’s UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI).

In May Marshall Hyundai Gloucester won the Best In Customer Service Award at the 2022 AM Awards for car dealers, while Chorley Group has also been rewarded for its treatment of customers at a recent awards event.

Chorley emerged as the top Lancashire business for customer service at last month's annual Red Rose Awards.

JudgeService’s data showed that dealer websites remain important to car buyers.

More than one-in-five (23%) said they had visited the dealer’s digital showroom ahead of buying, similar to 24% in Q2 2019 but down on the pandemic high of 28.5% in Q2 2020.

The value of being a local dealer is also a strong trigger, after a dip during the pandemic.

Currently 21% of buyers cited the location of the dealer they bought from as a reason to purchase, similar to 19% in Q2 2019 and an improvement on 16% in Q2 2020.

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