Everything that someone does has a set of expectations attached to it.
When someone makes a call to a store to see if they have a certain product, they expect that their question will be answered. If the store is a ‘big box’, the customer expects to have it take longer to have their question answered than, say, they called a smaller retailer. When a customer buys a hamburger from MacDonalds, they don’t expect it to be of the same quality as when they pay three times as much buying a hamburger from a restaurant.
When someone uses the internet to contact your dealership, their expectations can be arranged in 3 categories:
- Those who have found the car they want and want to make a transaction
- Those who are shopping and want information
- Those who are still deciding on which dealership and which vehicle will be the one they chose.
For the first category, investment of time is usually one of the critical pieces of the ‘expectation’ to be addressed. This will be a bit different for each customer and it is the job of the person interacting with this customer to find out just how much the time investment factors into their expectations.
Too many times over the past 10 years have I heard from customers who thought they were making an internet transaction to relieve them of time spent at the dealership, only to find out that they still were at the dealership for 3 or more hours. How could this have happened? It’s pretty simple, the expectation of the customer was not identified nor was it addressed.
A close friend of mine went on to the website of one of the largest Ford dealerships in the nation, selected a Mustang GT that was exactly what he wanted, agreed to the pricing and made it clear that he expected a quick transaction once he got to the dealership. The result, he was there for almost 4 hours. He has since only said negative things about this dealership. Not about their vehicles or price, but about their inability to address his expectations!
This example isn’t out of the ordinary, unfortunately. It does show that when a good process is not in place to identify the expectation of the customer and then meet it, the dealership is going out of its way to produce negative press while paying for it…as though they were spending money on ads in the newspaper to say how mediocre they perform as an organization. And, with the reputation portals (Google Places, Dealer Rater, Angie’s List, Presto Reviews, etc.) now scouring the web for comments about your dealership, everything is amplified well beyond the way it was just a couple of years ago.
Whether in the shopping, transaction or choosing the vehicle/dealership category of internet interaction expectations, one thing is very clear: Find the expectation and have a process in place to address it as best as possible. Otherwise, you might as well take down your website and stop paying for leads, you’re only paying to destroy your reputation.