The current post-pandemic environment, which is causing unintentional delivery delays at dealerships, requires ongoing communication with each customer anxiously awaiting their vehicle.
How to find the right words, the right way to reassure the customer in such a situation?
Act with clarity
While everyone has their own assessment of the impact of the recent global health crisis, dealers agree that it is currently affecting the delivery times of their vehicles. Charles Drouin, CEO of Mobilis Corporation and General Manager of
the Quebec City International Auto Show, talks about the impact of some plant closures due to a lack of energy.
“For the majority of manufacturers, all components must be installed before a customer receives his vehicle. However, no one is immune to the unexpected. For example, if the supplier of a specific engine part is hit by a hurricane, it is certain that their manufacturing lead times will be greatly affected by the situation.”
When asked what can be done to adequately compensate for the wait, Mr. Drouin states that the best solution to reassure the customer in such a context of late delivery is transparency.
“Dealers make it a point to give buyers the right time and try to estimate delivery as accurately as possible. Now, again for the sake of transparency, some manufacturers and dealers are sending estimated delivery dates and updates directly to customers.”
At the heart of this slowdown in the transaction process, which is well beyond the control of dealers, Charles Drouin reminds us in closing that they “do everything possible to ensure that customers can take possession of their vehicles as quickly as possible, all with a view to meeting their expectations.
Empathy and tact
From LGM Financial Services, Jake Stacey, Executive Vice President of Sales and Training, says the current buying process has even pushed some consumers into a transitional vehicle while waiting for the vehicle they really want. And for good reason, when you look at the following figures.
“Factory orders are now the norm to acquire a vehicle with the customizations customers want. Deliveries, which used to be immediate, now take between three and twenty-four months.”
The situation therefore requires tact, understanding… and adjustment. To this end, Ms. Stacey reminds us that the dealership-client connection must continue to be one of close communication.
“Dealers must now maintain trusting relationships over a longer period of time by remaining available and transparent during the delivery waiting period. Here, the need for more frequent follow-ups to reassure customers about the process becomes important,” she explains, adding that some manufacturers have even done their part by offering program freezes to avoid variation in financing/lease parameters.
Allies to mitigate
In parallel, what are the ideal, even contemporary, tools to comfort the client who expects his property in a reasonable time frame? Here, Jake Stacey emphasizes the technological contribution.
“Building a modular journey designed to seamlessly communicate with the customer is key to demonstrating good service. By determining the appropriate touch points and using different tools such as phone, SMS and email, dealers can keep in touch with the customer throughout their journey.”
In this regard, she adds that an automation tool that activates communications allows the dealer to save time while regularly feeding the relationship into the waiting process.
“Helping dealers understand how to communicate the right message at the right time is a service our Dealer Development Managers provide to LGM’s dealer partners. This is especially important in the context of F&A, which has traditionally been sold on the day the customer decided to purchase the vehicle and has now been moved to a much later stage in the buying journey,” Stacey adds.
Dans les concessions, la réalité est que les représentants commerciaux deviennent des intermédiaires infatigables. From these crucial moments, valuable communicators are born,” explains Marie-Lee Michaud, Marketing and Human Resources Coordinator at Michaud Automobiles in Rimouski.
“First of all, when the customer orders his vehicle, we give him the right time as to the expected delay. Sometimes this deadline changes, so we keep in touch with the customer to let them know. Each of the representatives is responsible for following up with their customers who have a vehicle on order.”
To clarify the nature of the approach, our speaker adds, even hammers home the point that the rigor of the follow-up has a significant influence on what happens next, and especially on gaining the precious trust of the client.
“This contact with the customer will be once a month or a little more if the delay is longer, for example six to twelve months. This communication will be done by phone, email or text message. This communication is important because the customer feels that we are following his file and that even if the delay is long, we are managing his order seriously and professionally.”