Online now first port of call for majority of new car buyers

Nearly two-thirds of new car buyers conduct research online prior to ever setting foot in a dealership, so having an accessible and easy to use website is vital for Dealers.

So said Jared Hamilton, an expert in customer buying behavior, at the AADA National Dealer Convention last month. Mr Hamilton, from DrivingSales, was one of guest speakers from the US, and he shared his unique insights into how the nature of customer service is changing.

Mr Hamilton and his company have conducted in-depth research over several years into customer buying behavior. Using a variety of methods, including GPS tracking, surveys and face-to-face interviews, he was able to establish how people prefer to buy. Using these finding, he went on to develop what he believed to be some of the most effective forms of customer service.

Mr Hamilton told convention delegates the automotive industry has entered into a new technological age, with 64% of new car buyers doing their research online. But he also found that consumers tend to refer to the manufacturer’s website instead of the individual dealerships. He believes that this is because they see the OEM website as more fair and accurate. He urged Dealers to make their websites easy to use, clear and full of information, as 56% of consumers said they would buy if the entire sales process were easier.

He also urged Dealers to focus on the quality of service, rather than closing the deal. An overwhelming 92% of people choose a dealership based on the input of friends and family. Therefore, making sure the consumer has a positive and easy experience at your dealership plays a key role in promoting new sales leads, as they are more likely to tell others about it.

Mr Hamilton said a customer’s choice of dealership is also influenced by social media such as Facebook and Google reviews. So it’s important for Dealers to invest in maintaining and promoting their online presence, as positive and negative reviews inform how potential customers will feel about purchasing a car from their dealership.

The internet is clearly a powerful tool when it comes to the automotive industry, and judging by the popularity of Mr Hamilton’s presentation at the Convention, his philosophies are something Dealers are eager to get behind.

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