Phone: 630-495-2282 Fax: 630-495-2260 Map/Directions

Customers want knowledgeable salespeople: study

December 15, 2017
With all the hubbub about mobile technology replacing dealerships, one would think that parts of the experience, like pre-purchase test-drives and delivery walk-arounds, were fading into relics of the past.
Not so. It turns out car buyers really do need dealership salespeople, after all. At least that’s according to findings from the just-released J.D. Power and Associates U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index Study, an annual deep-dive into what makes for a satisfactory new vehicle sales experience.
While car buyers love to spend hours and hours researching vehicles and getting negotiation advice online, what makes them happiest is a combination of that research, accurate dealer website information, and a knowledgeable salesperson who helps answer questions and explain technology.
"Customers are preparing themselves online with the best information and negotiation tactics, they still prefer to interact with a salesperson or product specialist prior to buying a vehicle," said Chris Sutton, vice president of Automotive Retail Practice at J.D. Power. "Dealers can’t control a customer’s pre-purchase activities, but they should be prepared to positively influence areas that will affect a customer’s likelihood to buy as well as their level of satisfaction. An example is to post photos of actual inventory to their website or engage with shoppers via text messaging or phone calls. 
"Be sure that online specials are up to date and easy to access from the dealer’s site. These simple things go a long way toward earning a sale and satisfying a customer."
Let’s say you just purchased a brand-new vehicle. Super! Problem is, you can’t figure out how to work the thing, especially the wi-fi hotspot and wireless charging capability. That’s annoying — and reflected in the study as an increased need for in-person demonstrations. True, that’s always been important, but it now takes on added significance, as vehicles gain more complex technology-based features.
Indeed, J.D. Power reports that 41 percent of mass market buyers and 33 percent of luxury buyers want to learn about a vehicle’s features and controls during the delivery process. What’s more, 65 percent of shoppers who have a sales consultant show them how to use features on their personal smartphone say it was a "very effective" tool and subsequently are more confident using apps and websites for vehicle interaction and maintenance. 
Follow up post-purchase is also important: Just 32 percent of mass market buyers and 51 percent of luxury buyers receive a second follow-up explanation of vehicle features, even though that second "virtual tap on the shoulder" improves satisfaction by as much as 100 points (on a 1,000-point scale).
The study, in its 31st year, measures things like dealer personnel, delivery, deal-making, paperwork, dealership facility, and website quality. It’s based on responses from 28,989 buyers who purchased or leased their new vehicle in April or May 2017. The study is an analysis of the new-vehicle purchase experience and measures customer satisfaction with the selling dealer.