The car buying experience – for both buyers and dealers –is significantly different than it was even several years ago. With all the advances in digital auto retailing, two fundamental things still remain prominently top of mind for car buyers: trust and transparency.
For evidence, look no further than the results of the
In fact, only 37% of those surveyed said they trust that car dealers will negotiate a fair price. That’s a red flag for dealers, since trust is such a huge factor in customer satisfaction and retention.
Car buyers also prize transparency; they want assurance that things like the information they see online, the description of vehicles and their features, the price of vehicles and financing details are accurate. Correspondingly, transparency is a significant driver of car buyer trust, according to the report.
Although disconnects in the digital car buying process persist, digital retailing solutions work to close the gap that prevents both car buyers and dealers from reaping the full benefits digital tools can provide.
One solution is Capital One Navigator Platform. Navigator Platform is a suite of digital tools that connect the in-person and digital worlds of car buyers and dealers. The online tools help dealers provide a transparent shopping and financing experience for car buyers, integrating the car buyer's online research by pulling consistent information through to the dealer’s back-end systems, and bridging the online elements of car buying with the in-person aspects.
Here are five tips that can help as you work towards building greater trust and transparency with car buyers.
• Focus on transparency from the start. This is critical because the Car Buying Outlook shows there’s a distinct disconnect between car buyers and dealers when it comes to perceptions about transparency. For instance, 68% of dealers surveyed believe the car buying process is transparent, compared to only 21% of car buyers. In addition, 77% of car buyers surveyed said dealers need to provide more information up-front.
"We rely on retention and repeat customers as a business model," said Kris Gaerlan, General Manager at Dallas Lease Returns and DealerRater’s 2023 United States Used Car Dealer of the year. "If we lose trust, which can happen surprisingly fast if the buyer thinks we aren't being fully transparent, we lose a customer. So I'm always looking for ways to boost trust and transparency with our customers."
• Understand where your car buyers are coming from. The report shows that 54% of car buyers said they conduct at least half of the purchase process online. And roughly two-thirds (67%) of car buyers want dealers to further enhance their digital tools, which can bolster transparency.
"Over the last two years, I've purchased six cars. The dealers who openly shared pricing on vehicles and financing with me won my business every time," said Courtney West, Chief Sales Transformation Officer for Capital One Auto. "Navigator Platform is a game changer for dealers who are ready to make the jump to a transparent business model. Powering your website with state of the art digital tools, empowers shoppers to engage transparently creating a foundation of trust early in the buying process. Customers who trust their car dealer are more likely to become high referrals, repeat buyers and service customers."
• Let digital tools do the legwork. With Navigator Platform, car buyers don’t have to start from scratch when they visit dealerships in person. If car buyers begin their search with
This is a big deal for both car buyers and dealers, according to the report. It shows that 55% of car buyers and 68% of dealers agree financing estimates provided by third-party digital tools do not match what final rates and payments are, which makes the process less transparent.
"It's frustrating for buyers when they see one number online and something different when they get a final quote at the dealership," said Dan Banister, owner at Banister Nissan of Chesapeake, VA. "Navigator Platform allows us to see a buyer’s pre-qualification status and finance information ahead of time, so we're on the same page at the start. This allows for more transparency,” he adds. “Both parties walk away more satisfied because the buyer gets what they expect and the salesperson builds trust with their customer."
• Act as a counselor. The report indicates the trend toward online shopping is not likely to dissipate. But it also shows that many car buyers still prefer to combine online shopping with in-person visits to dealerships, where they can do things such as discuss financing options, get their trade-ins assessed and negotiate a loan interest rate.
So in the end, car buyers still want to retain some of the in-person experience. But with all the online tools and resources available, dealers should consider serving as counselors as opposed to just banks of information, which buyers already have access to online.
• Focus on building a relationship, rather than just the sale. The report shows that 76% of car buyers want to keep using the same car dealer after having a positive experience. And building trust is paramount to continuing that relationship. So if car buyers want to keep doing business with their dealers, those dealers must give them reasons to do so.
The bottom line: Now more than ever, dealers must put car buyers’ needs first and with the right tools, trust and transparency can help close the deal.
For more information on Capital One Navigator Platform and its suite of digital tools, click here.