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Kurt Olnhausen
<p><strong>Kurt Olnhausen</strong></p>

Three Ways to Court Modern Car Buyers

Take customers from initial online research to final sale faster and more efficiently than ever before.

Today’s car buyers are savvy and demanding, with a world of information at their fingertips. They follow the path of least technological resistance to find the right car and the right dealership that matches their level of commitment to the purchase process.

In other words, they search for a partner to provide them with a seamless car-buying experience. Accordingly, here are three ways to court the modern car buyer.

1. Implement Live Web Chat

These days, every car purchase begins online. Gone are the days of shooting the breeze and kicking tires at the dealership. Now, car buyers can find just about everything they need to know online. With a quick search for local car dealers, customers arrive at a dealer website with every intention of beginning the car-buying process.

One of the best ways to provide them with a seamless shopping experience is to implement live-chat capabilities. Sure, customers want to start their purchase online, but most will want to take a test drive and talk to a knowledgeable salesperson before making a final decision.

With online chat, customers can go from online to in-person research with the click of a button. Studies show live chat reduces business expenses, increases sales and can give a dealership a leg up on the competition.

Remember, customers follow the path of least technological resistance. If a dealer’s website doesn’t give customers the ability to chat in real time, chances are they’ll find another dealership website that does.

2. Understand Customers

To grow business, understand customers. And, with the right tools, including customer-relationship-management software, a dealer can better understand customers’ behaviors and turn sales leads into loyal customers.

CRM can track a customer who contacts a dealership by website or phone. The software then compiles and stores information about that customer in a database, and sends out automated marketing materials, via email or social media, based on that customer’s specific needs and interests.

CRM also provides an easy way to track service appointments, purchase habits and communications. It allows the tailoring of specific messages to meet individual customer needs.

3. Treat Customers as Partners

As the saying goes, “The customer is always right,” and today’s customers know it. This is the age of the entitled consumer – a savvy purchaser who expects excellence in every step of the sales process.

Especially with important purchases (like buying a car), consumers want ownership of their decisions. What better way to give them that than by partnering with them throughout the purchasing process.

That means integrating customers’ insights into everything a dealership does, then giving them feedback about how those insights have influenced decisions and business behavior.

Stay away from the “father knows best” mentality of talking down to customers. They simply won’t stand for it. Today’s consumers want to feel like a business is considering their input and making changes based on their preferences.

Not only is the seamless car-buying experience possible, customers have come to expect it. By implementing live web chat, using CRM software and giving customers ownership of their purchasing decisions, dealers can take them from initial online research to final sale faster and more efficiently than ever before.

Kurt Olnhausen is AVP of Service Operations at Dealertrack DMS

TAGS: Dealers
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