Let’s face it. For certain industries, face-to-face interaction is crucial for the business and for the customer.
The auto industry is one of them.
No matter how much information a customer has when they walk into a car dealership, the interaction with the sales rep will make or break the deal.
If the salesperson answers the customer’s questions quickly and confidently, that interaction will accelerate the customer’s purchasing decision. It reinforces the customer’s belief that she is making the right decision, and it reassures her that she’s in good hands with the salesperson managing the deal.
If the salesperson struggles with answers or appears to bluff, the customer will likely start to feel uneasy about the large purchase she’s about to make – and may reconsider her options. A car is a big purchase for most people, and injecting any doubt into the buying process – even if that doubt is about the salesperson and not the car itself – is a recipe for a stalled deal.
The customer service experience is everything at a car dealership – and it often comes down to dealer knowledge and quick, seamless access to answers during face-to-face interactions.
There are a lot of reports out there supporting the opinion that the role of the salesperson is going to the wayside. Today, 50% of customers want to solve product or service issues themselves before reaching out to the company. Gartner predicts that, by 2020, customers will manage 85% of the relationship with a business without interacting with a human. But simply put, self-service can only take car buyers so far.
For big purchases, or for purchases of complex products and services, the role of the salesperson isn’t going anywhere.
Suffice it to say, customer service is the top priority for most auto dealerships.
Mitsubishi Motors is no exception.
“Having the best information and giving the best customer experience are key advantages over our competitors. We’re always striving for #1 in the Customer Service Index. We want to keep it that way,” shared Mitsubishi Motors dealer relationship manager Marcus Walker.
Walker knows that customer service starts with conversation – and a few years ago, he became focused on equipping his sales team to have the most successful conversations possible.
Print Was Killing Customer Confidence
Sales collateral is critical on the showroom floor. It gives dealers quick access to important information, and supplements their sales conversations.
Automobiles have become more technologically complex and hybrid vehicles have entered the scene, however, and Walker witnessed how printed sales materials were killing customer confidence.
Not only did printed assets go out-of-date quicker than the dealership could order them, the actual physical experience for the customer of holding a brochure in their hands could affect the sale. “Print materials age quickly in automotive sales. As soon as an edge frays or a corner gets folded, that piece loses some of its luster in the customer’s eyes,” said Walker. “That reflects poorly on our product, and the experience we’re trying to create.”
Mitsubishi saw the value in digital sales collateral, and was ready to start the transition away from print. But they encountered a few roadblocks:
- Delivering the digital assets to a large team of sales reps
- Updating the digital assets automatically across all devices
- Convincing sales reps to use the digital assets and training them how to use the technology
The dealership considered commissioning a custom app, but quickly discovered that the investments in both money and time were too high.
Luckily, they found Showcase.
“It was ready to go right out of the box. It did just what we needed, and offered features that we hadn’t yet realized we’d need,” said Walker. “We can send customers to our websites and hand them brochures, but we also want to support those crucial face-to-face interactions with timely, accurate, attractive materials. Showcase fit that need perfectly.”
Ramping up the Sales Team – Pronto
Instead of sinking months and tens of thousands of dollars into app development, Mitsubishi invested a few weeks branding their Showcase platform and repurposing their library of brochures, videos and presentation materials.
Even training the sales team was a breeze with the new app. “They know cars, not technology,” he said. “Fortunately, because Showcase is so easy to use, it didn’t take long to teach them the platform.”
Walker immediately saw the value in the new metrics. After the sales team was up and running with Showcase, he used the built-in analytics dashboard to identify the early-adopters for shareable success stories, and those salespeople who needed a bit more personal encouragement.
Surprising Reports from Mitsubishi Mystery Shoppers
Walker employed mystery shoppers throughout the year to make sure his dealers’ customer service was on point.
“We wanted to know how the mystery shoppers felt that the use of Showcase impacted the sales conversation,” he explained. “That was very important to us. We can measure everything under the sun on Showcase, but it comes down to the benefit to the customer.”
He was not disappointed by the results.
“Of the mystery shoppers that saw Showcase in the sales conversation, 91% said that it enhanced their experience.”
Here are actual quotes from mystery shoppers at Mitsubishi Motors:
“Because the car was not in the dealership, [the salesperson] was able to show me a great deal of features using Showcase.”
“Showcase was helpful. As hybrids are a bit of a mystery to most people, it helped to see and read information directly.”
“[The salesperson] was able to find answers for me. It did seem to give her confidence. There were no answers given that appeared she was guessing.”
“We were able to see the technology in action and pause it to discuss things or jump around to other relevant features as they came up in our conversation. [The salesperson] was very good at making everything seem easy and relaxed.”
The Results Are in: Enriched Sales Conversations and Skyrocketing Sales Numbers
Today every individual sales person at the dealership has their own Showcase account. The head office pushes updates out to all the accounts to make sure every rep is equipped with the best, most up-to-date information about every car they sell and every trade-in they might encounter.
“[Showcase is] very helpful in customer-facing situations because it allows us to bring our content into the most important part of our sales conversation: the face-to-face interaction,” Walker shared. “It doesn’t substitute for the conversation; it enriches the conversation. And it supported the type of customer service we want to be known for: our salespeople gain great credibility by accessing and sharing detailed information on the spot.”
Troy Peek, Marketing & Events Coordinator at Mitsubishi Motors, said, “Showcase is helping to create an improved customer experience throughout our network. It is helping us create a more ‘tech savvy’ brand image to customers across the country and is an important part of the connected dealership model we are moving towards. Showcase helps our sales people connect better with their leads, which drives total sales.”
The team at Mitsubishi knew the value of connecting better with customers – and they took action to help their sales reps improve those connections. Today they serve customers more efficiently and have improved the entire sales experience for their customers.
Mitsubishi proves that when sales conversations are backed by real expertise and instant access to information, they can improve the customer experience like nothing else.