What customers want from Automobile Customer Service

Customer expectations in the automobile market are soaring. In this article, we’ll reveal what automobile customers want from customer service and how you can shift your strategy up a gear to see your automobile customer satisfaction ratings soar. 

Buying a vehicle is a big purchase for most people, second only to buying property, so it’s one that customers take seriously. 

Consumers need to not only trust that the vehicle they purchase will meet their needs, they need to trust the person and manufacturer selling the vehicle. 

That level of trust doesn’t come from a quick test drive. It comes from positive interactions with your employees, glowing reviews, and thoughtful customer service practices. 

Let’s explore what customers want from automobile customer service and how to drive customer satisfaction in the automobile industry. 

Why is delivering excellent customer service important?

Customer service encompasses a customer’s entire experience with your brand and its products or services, from the pre-sales experience to the buying journey and post-sales customer support.

The power of excellent customer service shouldn’t be underestimated – according to a Salesforce report, 79% of consumers agree that the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services. 

Here’s how excellent customer service can give your automobile business an advantage:

  1. Satisfied customers will spend more. According to Hubspot, 68% of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services from brands associated with excellent customer service.
  2. Your sales revenue will soar. Providing exceptional customer service can make and save a lot of money. According to Hubspot, improving the customer experience can increase sales revenue by 2–7%.
  3. Customers are more forgiving. Salesforce found that 78% of consumers will do business with a brand again, even after a mistake is made, if the customer service is excellent.
  4. Customers will keep coming back. After an excellent customer service experience, almost 9 in 10 customers (89%) say they are more likely to return and make another purchase. That’s why customer experience is an essential element of customer retention strategies in the automobile sector.
  5. Customers will recommend your brand to others. Happy customers will refer others – in fact, 66% of salespeople say the highest quality leads come from existing customers. 


What customers want from automotive customer service

Fast, easy and connected digital experiences

In a world dominated by digital, the car buying journey is increasingly self-service. Australian consumers spend more and more time online doing personal research before physically looking at cars, and many make the majority of their most important decisions before they ever step inside a dealership.

According to McKinsey research, one in three buyers say they will not only research online but also buy online for their next car purchase. The reasons for more automobile online shopping are no different from other online shopping: simplicity and speed. 

However, traditional approaches are still popular, with 44% per cent of consumers saying they value a personal connection and only 24% saying they want an entirely human-free experience.

This means the critical thing for dealerships is to merge the online and dealership experience. Consider how you can make it easy for customers to transition seamlessly from the digital to the physical purchase experience when they are ready.

For example, you can let customers book a test drive online. After completing their online research, let them move seamlessly to the physical purchase experience by booking a test drive online. Ask customers to fill in their address to find their nearest showroom and use address validation and look-up for a faster, smoother online experience. 

Hyper-personalised service

Customers demand personalised service – 71% expect companies to deliver personalised interactions, and 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen, according to McKinsey & Co

What's more, 72% said they expect the businesses they buy from to recognise them as individuals and know their interests. In other words, brands must demonstrate their investment in the relationship, not just the sale. This is how you can lift traditional customer service to clienteling. 

Clienteling considers the customer’s profile, such as historical interactions and behavioural information, to provide a highly personalised one-on-one customer experience. 

You need to collect customer information across the purchase journey that helps your employees understand the customer’s needs, wants and interests. Then, empower employees with this information so they can deliver thoughtful customer service, such as sending more information about the vehicle, checking in post-purchase, or asking consumers to write a review. 

To create a consistent experience, the sales associate should also be able to save information about the customer and interaction so they can pick up where they left off next time. 

Impeccable after-sales service 

Customer service doesn’t end when the customer drives away. Post-purchase activities are critical to customer retention strategies in the automobile sector. 

Even if they love their new car, poor after-sales customer service can lead to bad reviews and a tarnished brand image. Research by Hiver shows 89% of customers publicly talk about their poor customer support experience.

Excellent after-sales servicing also keeps your business top of mind for customers when they are ready to upgrade their vehicles.  

According to 2023 research by Deloitte, Australian consumers most trust the dealer where they originally acquired or typically service their vehicle, which shows dealers' important role in maintaining customer relationships.

Offering 24/7 self-service is non-negotiable. Unless they must, nobody wants to call customer service, especially if it’s for a problem with a simple fix or a question with a quick answer. Your goal should be to make it easy for customers to solve problems, not harder. Consider adding a chatbot to your website and updating FAQs regularly based on customers’ questions. 

Here are some more winning after-sales customer service strategies:

  • Thank customers for choosing you by offering discounts on related services.
  • Keep track of how long it’s been since each customer’s purchase so you can follow up on important service information.
  • Send invitations to exclusive events and launches. 


Take the pain out of car servicing

Car services are inconvenient to customers and not a fun purchase, but they must be done. 

You have an opportunity once a year to make an impression on that customer when they come in for a service, so it’s critical to make it count. 

The challenge for dealerships is to improve the experience and make servicing more effortless for customers. 

Australian consumers surveyed by Deloitte said they expect a brand app to help them schedule and track service appointments, make payments, and learn about their vehicle’s features, amongst other things. 

Try these three ways to improve the servicing experience:

  • Start by offering online booking, rather than only over the phone. This makes it more convenient for customers to book and gives them a good experience from the outset.
  • Hidden fees are a top customer paint point. Customers want to know how much they will pay, with no nasty surprises, so be transparent around pricing.
  • Provide clear communication around how the service is progressing so that customers can plan their day. Call, SMS or email, depending on the customer’s preference, with an update and estimated time for pick-up. 

Accelerate your customer service strategy

Auto businesses that listen to their customers and deliver service that genuinely helps them will rise to the top in today’s competitive market. With outstanding customer service at every stage of the purchase journey, you can win lifetime loyalty and drive more customers toward your business. 

How will you raise the quality of customer service for your business?