There’s no doubt that consumer preferences are evolving quickly while expectations for high quality service continue to rise. Dealers not only have to identify the right mix of product and service offerings to attract new customers, they must consider how to effectively nurture these customers past the initial sale to develop long term relationships and establish recurring revenue streams.
It’s a known fact that it’s less expensive to keep an existing customer than to obtain a new one. If that’s the case, how can dealers keep their customers coming back for more? It’s relatively simple – by improving the customer experience and removing the friction involved in every customer interaction.
Susan Perlmutter, Chief Revenue Officer of REPAY and long-time player in the auto industry, recommends evaluating the experience a dealership creates when servicing vehicles. “Servicing a car can be a painful experience due to the number of interactions required between dealership personnel and the customer,” Perlmutter explained. “Technology and a streamlined process can make the experience much more enjoyable for customers.”
After a dealership services a vehicle, a customer must often wait in multiple lines before paying for the service and picking up the keys to the car. Simply reducing the number of touchpoints that a customer has with dealership personnel can make for a much more pleasant experience and efficient process. Dealers should consider offering alternative payment options, such as online payments or text payments, so customers can prepay for the services prior to picking up the vehicles. These payment methods will allow customers to pay onsite without waiting in line or from another location if they choose to leave the dealership. They’ll be able to access the dealer’s secure, custom-branded online payment portal from any computer, laptop or mobile device. Depending on the payment processor, dealers can even send text messages to customers to alert them of the progress and notify them when the service has been completed. Customers can reply to a text message with a one-word response to quickly and securely initiate and complete a payment.
Providing these alternative ways to pay is not only convenient for customers, it’s savvy for business operations as well. Implementing unassisted payment methods will free up personnel resources and reduce the amount of data entry errors that can typically happen when payments are handled by humans.
Some dealers are hesitant to replace the human interaction with an impersonal technological experience, but they shouldn’t lose sight over changing consumer preferences. People are busier and more connected than ever, and they prefer fewer steps in a process. If executed the right way, the automated payment experience can be customized to individuals and can feel just as personal as a face-to-face transaction. Providing a seamless and easy payment process can serve as a differentiator and competitive advantage for dealerships by providing customers with a hassle-free experience, leaving them delighted and coming back for more.