Dealers know how important first impressions can be. Dealerships are all about image – it’s why millions of dollars are spent in showroom renovations and lot upkeep. With the cost of showrooms and lots so high, it’s easy to forget that the real first impression, where dealership image meets customer expectations for the first time, is online. As the first place many shoppers will experience your dealership, your website is one of the most important touchpoints of your dealership’s entire customer experience (CX).
Your Website is Just As Important As Your Showroom
The vast majority of the automotive shopping process now happens online. In fact, a 2015 AutoTrader study found that 74% of all time spent shopping for a car is spent online. Of the nearly nine hours spent doing their shopping online, a full hour and a half is spent on dealership sites.
Online, looking at cars is just more efficient. Instead of walking across the lot with a salesperson in tow, they can simply click a button. When it comes to actually buying the car, shoppers only spend about three hours at the dealership they purchase from. Increasingly, the shopping process takes time away from being on the lot, and shifts it to online activities, where it can be done more efficiently and with less pressure.
The lesson in all of this is simple.
For all intents and purposes, your website really is your “online showroom,” and should be receiving just as much attention and thought as your physical showroom. Although all sales are closed on the showroom floor, most of them are either won or lost on your website. Make sure your online experience is up to the challenge.
First Impressions Set Expectations – For Better or For Worse
Since dealership websites are an extension of the actual dealership, the website’s CX has a major effect on how many people show up to your store, and how they feel about your dealership when they get there.
According to DrivingSales, “Shoppers feel that the website is a representation of how they will be treated in the store.” Let’s take a moment to examine this concept.
If a customer is annoyed by pop-ups on your website, they might expect to be annoyed by pushy salespeople on your lot. Or, if a customer is frustrated and confused by poor usability on your website, they might expect to be frustrated and confused by a long paperwork process on your lot.
A bad experience like the two above could cause the customer to instantly mistrust your store. If that happens, there’s a good chance the shopping process will end right there. They’ll find another dealership’s website to shop on, and even if they do decide to visit your dealership, they’ll likely do so with a bad perception of the dealership and a bad attitude.
Ever deal with showroom visitors that show up defensive and skeptical? These customers are much harder to sell than the ones that show up excited, confident, and ready to buy. Just as poor online CX leads to distaste, excellent online customer experience gets the customer excited and sets them up for a good experience at your dealership.
Which would you rather have?
Summing it Up: Sales Are Won or Lost Online
With so much of the shopping process online, your website is the first impression a customer will have of your dealership. The experience they have there – whether positive or negative – will set the tone for the relationship, and will undoubtedly influence their likelihood to buy from your dealership.
Even if your dealership has the best customer satisfaction in the state, a website with bad CX will prevent scores of potential shoppers from ever coming to your dealership. Focusing on enhancing website CX means that a prospects first impression, their online impression, of your dealership will be a good one, and they’ll be more likely to visit your dealership, and become a sales opportunity.