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Shoppers Satisfied With Dealership Experience, Study Shows

April 6, 2016

ROCHESTER, Mich. — More customers are entering the dealership and leaving satisfied, at least according to the 2015 Channel Immersion and Perspectives study published by Foresight Research. Data from the study found that eight out of 10 recent new auto buyers were satisfied overall with their most recent dealership experience.

The remaining two of 10, according to the study, were disproportionately Millennial and Gen X buyers. The majority of these respondents were neither highly satisfied nor highly dissatisfied with their dealership experience, the study states. The study describes the majority of these buyers as ambivalent about their experience.

Most of the qualms these buyers have were centered on the process — and their suggestions to improve their experience reflected that. These ambivalent buyers wanted to spend less time at the dealership completing paperwork, discussing price or financing, and haggling.   

“The low hanging fruit for enhancing the dealership experience are this large group of ambivalents whose relatively mild irritation may be alleviated through streamlined processes that increase efficiency and are designed for the customer’s convenience,” said Nancy Walter, vice president of business development at Foresight Research. “Since ambivalents tend to be younger, they will become a large portion of the new auto buying population over time and it pays to start thinking about them now.”

Individuals who rated their experience the lowest among respondents were classified as discontented. This subsection of dissatisfied buyers noted personnel integrity as their No. 1 issue with their experience.

The top suggestions this group had for dealerships were better customer service, more likeable salespeople and less aggressive, high-pressure sales tactics. This group, according to the study, was also more likely to walk away and change dealers.

“That smaller group of discontents (about 5% of all buyers) are not just irritated, they are often infuriated about their dealer experience,” Walter said.  “Dealerships would be well served to get continuous customer feedback and sales training to avoid the type of poor experience that has a stronger negative impact on dealership satisfaction and is more likely to drive a customer to a competitive dealer.”

However, people who were dissatisfied with their dealership experience only populated about 20% of total survey respondents, the study shows. Overall, new auto buyers are satisfied with their dealerships and — for those that aren’t — there are clear areas that can be improved to satisfy the rest.

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Dealers and dealership personnel are encouraged to vote for their favorite vendors, suppliers, banks and finance companies in 34 categories covering new- and used-car leads, training, marketing, F&I products and more. Voting for the 12th annual Dealers’ Choice Awards is now open and will remain so until midnight on April 15.