Jaguar of North America has just been recognized as a JD Power 2011 Customer Service Champion which means they have excelled in their own industry by delivering superior service to their US customers. Part of the criteria used to measure customer satisfaction were the "touch points" of people, presentation, process, product, and price.
According to JD Power, Jaguar is noted for standing out by satisfying customers with new-vehicle sales experiences. Doesn't that make one wonder why every dealership can't provide a similar kind of customer experience?
I remember reading a statement from the CEO of Hyundai who stated, "Americans would rather go to the dentist than visit a car dealer." Fortunately the Internet has helped us as customers take control, rate dealerships, and even create our own reviews based upon our personal experiences. Since car dealerships are independently owned franchises, they are not entirely controlled by the automobile manufacturer thus there are going to be different concepts regarding customer service. Surprisingly statistics indicate that only 30 percent of car buyers negotiate online. People seem to feel they need to touch the product and do a face-to-face encounter with a car dealership salesperson. So what are the main complaints when shopping for a new car that brings shivers down our spine when we attempt to relate car dealerships and customer service?
- Negotiations - Car buyers complain about being bullied and intimidated. Too often the process is meant to wear down buyers by bringing out more salesmen and managers.
- Inefficiency - There is the wasted time while the salesman has to confer with his manager. There is an extended amount of time in the finance office, the contract preparation office, and finally the vehicle preparation procedures.
- Transparency - There is nothing more frustrating than to feel you overpaid for a car. Too often the salesperson will present only the monthly payments which is an intentional method to obscure the true price of the automobile. Then someone comes over and begins the add-on expenses of extended warranties, insurance, manufacturing fees, transportation fees; all done with little explanation.
So does it have to be an expensive automobile like Jaguar for consumers to expect exemplary customer service? After all when I sell a house for $100,000 or one for $700,000 the service is the same. Customer satisfaction should be based on the salesperson, the efficiency of the deal, the delivery process, and the dealership's facility. If in doubt while negotiating for a car, keep in mind the following:
- Walk away if your first impression of a sales person is not positive.
- Ask for a new salesperson if you feel at any time you are being bullied or "herded" into an uncomfortable situation in "turnover houses." (wear down buyers until they purchase a car)
- Speak to the general manager.
- Ask to speak to someone over the general manager if you are still not satisfied.
- Use social media to carry your message.
There have been positive changes, however in the car industry. GM brought in trainers from the Ritz Carlton to help Cadillac dealers treat customers royally. AutoNation shows customers how much they will pay for a car thus avoiding the add-on expenses after the deal is made, and has cut down the transaction time a customer actually spends during the process of buying a car. Maybe someday other car dealerships will realize how customers should be should be treated, and make car shopping a positive experience no matter what your budget.