4 Min Read • September 15, 2022
Mystery Shopper: Seeing Things as Your Customers Do Makes All the Difference
No matter how much things have changed, the automotive industry is still a relationship business. Whether customers are connecting with you online, on the phone or in person, they still want to be treated with care and their time to be respected. Seeing your team and your processes from the customer’s perspective is the best way to figure out what’s working and what needs to be improved.
Mystery shopping can reveal exactly what your customers’ experiences are really like. It helps you find and fix your inefficiencies and weaknesses, build your strengths and boost profits and growth.
There are hundreds of companies out there that will charge you thousands of dollars to mystery shop your store, but they don’t know your business nearly as well as you do. Enlist someone familiar with your dealership to anonymously shop — a member of your management team, friends or family. Their experiences will give you valuable, actionable insights and help you save time and money.
Most of today’s shoppers do their research online. Once they’ve chosen a vehicle, over 60% call to get their questions answered. Those phone calls are often the customer’s first person-to-person experience with your team. To find out how well prepared they are, begin your mystery shop by calling your store and asking about a particular vehicle make and model. Check and see if the Sales associate or BDC agent can make trim-level comparisons, explain the current low inventory situation and speak knowledgeably about how to order “in-demand” vehicles.
Studies show that up to 30% of inbound Service calls are never answered, abandoned on hold or misrouted. The first thing you’ll want to determine is how consistently calls are answered. Once on the line, check and see if the BDC agent or Service Advisor can answer basic questions and help you schedule an appointment.
If your dealership has a Digital Voice Assistant (DVA) answering calls, make sure the voice is conversational and can easily schedule, cancel and reschedule appointments. The DVA experience should be easy to navigate, efficient, accurate and as personal as possible.
Take some time to work through the digital retailing tools on your website. They should be easy to find, easy to understand and highly intuitive. Be prepared to submit a lead and wait for return communications. The autoresponders should be configured to engage your customers and convert a lead into a sales opportunity for your team.
Most CRMs can create the customer experience you want. If the feedback on your current system is less than ideal, you’ll know to change your autoresponders and follow-up communications to create more focused and engaging messages.
Artificial Intelligence Across Email, Chat and Text
Many dealerships use AI to maximize customer engagement across email, chat and text platforms. If this applies to your dealership, your mystery shop should include making sure all AI-driven communications deliver a satisfying customer experience.
Test drive your website’s chat function first and make sure it responds quickly and answers questions accurately. Common questions might include inventory availability, pricing and special events. You’ll want the process to go smoothly with little or no wait times. If there are questions your AI can’t answer, make sure it asks if the customer would like to be called back with the latest information.
Next, send an email inquiry and record how long it takes for a return. Make sure if your autoresponder is enabled, it gives more than just a boilerplate response. Shoppers want immediate, personalized attention, so they know you have a real interest in customer service.
Finally, use the Text Us feature on your website. Look for a quick response with answers to your questions, not just pressure to make an appointment. Then watch your phone. As a dealership, you’ve been given an opportunity to connect without overloading your customers with too many texts. As a mystery shopper, if you feel annoyed, it’s time to change your AI settings.
Make It a Priority
You can’t fix a customer experience if you don’t know it’s broken. Once you’ve seen the value mystery shopping provides, we recommend repeating the process once per quarter or any time you add new consumer-facing technology. It only takes a few minutes to submit a lead or pick up the phone, and sometimes it’s those little things that can make a big difference.