The way consumers buy cars has changed. With the power to compare prices, dealerships and specs in – literally – the palm of their hands, customers arrive armed with all the info they need to choose exactly the make and model they’re looking for, at exactly the price they want.
How is the automotive industry changing to meet the demands of a consumer base that is increasingly informed, more empowered than ever, and expects better service, quality and innovation?
Our partners, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), commissioned comprehensive research to find out. ‘Focus on Automotive’, which was sponsored by Feefo, surveyed hundreds of consumers from across the UK, and every demographic. The aim: to establish exactly what customers are looking for when buying a car – and how dealerships can tackle mistrust in the industry, and meet ever demanding expectations.
Feefo are doing big things in the motor industry, working with some of the largest manufacturers, like Vauxhall, and dealerships across the country to help them build trust with their consumers – and make the most of what they have to say.
The DMA report revealed that the motor industry lacks trust, compared to other sectors. When asked whether consumers trust car manufacturers or dealerships to do business fairly, less than half (43%) thought they did and only 9% trust them ‘very much.’
There’s no end to horror stories of the sly forecourt dealer pressuring customers into a bad deal. Couple that with the recent emissions scandal, which saw some car manufacturers manipulating data to present erroneous fuel economy results, and it comes as no surprise that the motor industry has a massive trust problem.
The report also revealed trust as one of the most important considerations when purchasing a car: 32% stated that the company should do business fairly and 30% that they should be genuine.
Using Feefo helps dealerships build trusted connections with consumers. Genuine reviews, left by other customers and verified by Feefo, help consumers feel confident that the dealership is reputable and honest – that’s significant, when 34% of consumers agreed that it’s important that car brands do not lie to them.
What makes a specific car dealership the first choice for a consumer – even when a better offer, or lower price can be found elsewhere?
The DMA report reveals that a great experience trumps even price in commanding customer loyalty. When asked what would make a customer choose a company again – even if a better price could be found elsewhere – 45% listed ‘good service’ as the top consideration.
In fact, only 26% ranked offers and deals as most important, putting it behind friendliness (34%), offering a personal service (32%), being made to feel valued (29%) and dealing with any issues (29%).
That will come as welcome news to motor businesses aiming to provide the best experience for their customers. We’ve known that customer service and loyalty go hand in hand, which is why we’ve developed an entire suite of tools to help brands understand what their customers want, right across the customer journey.
Take our new Smart Themes and Performance Profiling tech for example. Dealerships can now analyse all of their customer reviews, pull out sentiment in real-time, and create an action plan to improve their customer engagement - based on the genuine comments their customers have made.
Experiences with car brands span multiple layers, and are an ongoing process: With everything from the point-of-sale, to servicing, renewals and after sales communication – the opportunity to win or lose trust (and customers) is continuous.
That’s especially true in the evolving way customers are buying cars. While the most common way to purchase a car is still via a dealership (59%), a significant number of people say they’d buy a car using less common channels – such as directly from a website: 31% are willing to buy directly from a manufacturer, and just over one in five are willing to buy directly from a website – rising to 31% among 25-34s.
That means dealerships need to respond to a consumer base that they might not be able to directly engage with in person. Hyundai, for example, developed an e-commerce website, allowing customers to buy a new car within five minutes, and completely bypass the forecourt experience.
Ultimately, the innovation that has helped other sectors, such as retail, become efficient online platforms, is beginning to gain traction in the automotive industry. This extends to implementing the latest tech to save customers time and money.
The report revealed a desire for augmented reality – particularly (and unsurprisingly) with younger consumers – to test drive cars, or see their dimensions and additional options in ‘real life.’
It’s this desire for efficient – but reliable – information that is driving innovation in the automotive sector. Feefo is continually developing new ways to ensure feedback is more credible. Functionalities, such as video reviews, help bring reviews to life.
Who knows? It’s not hard to picture a future where customers could leave augmented reality, user-generated reviews that demonstrate products in ‘real-life.’
Get the report
This is just a taste of the wealth of information contained within the DMA ‘Focus on Automotive’. DMA members can download the report from the DMA research hub.
Head to the report page now
Net Promoter® and NPS® are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.