Dealer interactions with car buyers drive highest sales satisfaction

COSTA MESA, Calif. - 

Despite an array of online resources available to car shoppers today, interactions with dealership sales staff just before purchasing leads to high sales satisfaction, says J.D. Power. 

As vehicle technology features become more advanced, shoppers largely depend on dealership experts to instruct them on how to use new technology, according to the latest U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index Study by J.D. Power.

Forty-one percent of mass market buyers and 33 percent of luxury buyers want to hear about all of their vehicle's features and controls during the delivery process.

Additionally, 65 percent of shoppers who had a sales consultant show them how to use specific features on their personal devices said it was both a “very effective” tool and that they feel more comfortable accessing apps and websites from their vehicle.

“While customers are preparing themselves online with the best information and negotiation tactics, they still prefer to interact with a salesperson or product specialist prior to buying a vehicle,” J.D. Power automotive retail practice vice president Chris Sutton said in a news release.

“Dealers can't control a customer's pre-purchase activities, but they should be prepared to positively influence areas that will affect a customer's likelihood to buy as well as their level of satisfaction. An example is to post photos of actual inventory to their website or engage with shoppers via text messaging or phone calls. Be sure that online specials are up to date and easy to access from the dealer's site. These simple things go a long way toward earning a sale and satisfying a customer,” Sutton explained.

Additionally, for the second consecutive year, the study ranks Buick highest in sales satisfaction among mass market brands.

Buick received a score of 808, and MINI ranks second among mass market brands with a score of 803. GMC ranks third with a score of 793.

With scores of 830, for the first time, Lincoln ranks highest, in a shared spot with Mercedes-Benz, followed by Infiniti with a score of 821, and Porsche with a score of 818.

The study’s findings also highlights the power of follow-ups with car buyers.

While 80 percent of mass market buyers and 87 percent of luxury buyers said they were contacted by the dealership following a purchase, according to the study, only 32 percent of mass market buyers and 51 percent of luxury buyers received a second follow-up explanation of vehicle features.

The study measures satisfaction with the sales experience among new-vehicle buyers and rejecters, who browse a dealership and purchase elsewhere.

Buyer satisfaction is based on six measures, including dealer personnel (28 percent); delivery process (21percent); working out the deal (18 percent); paperwork completion (16 percent); dealership facility (13 percent); and dealership website (4 percent).  And rejecter satisfaction is based on five measures: salesperson (40 percent); fairness of price (15 percent); experience negotiating (15 percent); variety of inventory (15 percent); and dealership facility (14 percent).

The study is based on responses from 28,989 car buyers who purchased or leased a new vehicle in April or May.

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