Time to get serious about time – Canadian auto dealer

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Managing time is the secret to an exceptional customer experience

The research is complete, and the studies have been released!

The customer experience related findings of the 2024 CDK Global Friction Points Study and the 2023 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study are worth a closer look.

Improving customer experience is once again top of mind for 2024, with 84 per cent of dealers reporting that this is their top strategy for the year (CDK Global).

The good news is that the focus is paying off.

According to Cox Automotive, customer satisfaction increased from 2022 to 2023 with 79 per cent of new vehicle buyers reporting that they were highly satisfied with their experience.

However, only 60 per cent were highly satisfied with the length of the process, which highlights a significant opportunity for improvement: time.

The longer a customer spends in the showroom the lower their overall satisfaction (CDK Global), but how do we find the sweet spot and ensure a comprehensive yet concise buying experience?

Prepare & Anticipate

Lack of preparation for a customer’s visit to the showroom can lead to unnecessary delays and frustration for the customer.

With only 2.2 dealerships visited on average, most customers begin their car buying journey online before visiting a dealership.

To respect and minimize the time spent by the customer, ensure your sales teams are prepared for their appointments. They should be available and ready to greet the customer as soon as they arrive, have a clean fuelled car ready to drive, and be prepared to give 100 per cent of their attention to the customer.


As one of the core principles of customer experience, effective communication is crucial to manage a customers’ expectations of how long they will need to spend at the dealership.

One of the first questions a Sales Associate should ask is “What are you looking to accomplish today, and how much time do you have to spend here at the dealership?”

Not only does this show the customer that their time is valuable and respected, but it also allows you to customize the process to the customer’s preferences and guide them through the process efficiently.

Another interesting finding in the Friction Points Study is that 19 per cent of customers said that guidance through the process was their top decision factor in vehicle shopping.

While this was fourth on the list after price, effort and relationship, this finding is important as it saw a significant jump from last year’s 10 per cent. CDK reports that this has been a trendline across their research in recent months and years.

Car buyers, particularly the youngest among them, want to learn during their purchase journey. By focusing on guiding customers through the process, and carefully explaining the steps of the purchase, you can effectively manage their expectations around time and provide an excellent customer experience.

Maintain Engagement

Keeping the customer engaged throughout their visit is another way to manage their perceptions on the length of the process.

Even five minutes waiting at the sales associate’s desk or in the showroom can feel like an eternity; especially if they do not understand what they are waiting for.

Look for ways to keep them engaged during transitions in the process. For example, if they are waiting for the F&I manager, or for their car to be appraised, use this time effectively by giving them a tour of the dealership facility and introducing them to the service department.

Leverage Technology

Of course, the best way to improve customer perceptions on time spent is to actually reduce it!

Using digital retailing tools at the dealership can allow you to provide an expedited process, minimize customers waiting time, and enhance their overall experience.

According to CDK Global, 36 per cent of dealers are now using these tools for deal presentation. Considering that the negotiation stage is the top point of friction when it comes to customer waiting time, we should be looking to technology to assist us.

Every moment the customer is waiting alone for the Sales Associate to return from the desk negatively impacts their satisfaction and arguably, their willingness to make a deal.

One idea to consider is using instant messaging technology to speed up communication with the Sales Manager, and allow the Sales Associate to remain with the customer, keeping them engaged.

This post was originally published on this site

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