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Trust in Salespeople Top Painpoint for Consumers, DealerSocket Reports

December 13, 2016

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. — Cutting transaction times was the No. 1 focus for franchised dealers in 2016, but it wasn't the top painpoint for car buyers, according to DealerSocket's 2016 Dealership Action Report.

The 32-page report contains answers from more than 2,000 U.S. and Canadian customers, as well as responses from more than 10,000 dealerships utilizing the firm's software solutions. It revealed a disconnect between what consumers say is the problem and what franchised dealers perceive as the main issue that troubles the car-buying experience.

“Why does this matter? The more a dealer understands consumer perceptions, the more he or she can train staff to prepare for their customers’ biases,” the report states. “Taking a closer look at the ‘why’ of consumer perception should shape dealer strategies and processes.”

DealerSocket partnered with Google on the consumer portion of the report. For dealer responses, the company not only pulled product information from its own platform, but also collaborated with J.D. Power and its Power Information Network to compile the data for its report.

When asked whether they enjoyed the car-buying process, 81% of consumers polled answered "No." While the percentages weren’t exactly the same, dealers correctly assumed that the majority of consumers would answer "No." Collectively, dealer respondents assumed 32% of consumers would respond “yes” to the question, while 68% assumed they would say “no.”

Of the consumer who answered "No," 85% were between the age of 45 and 54 years old. Eighty-five percent of consumers who said "No" were also female, and 82% of them had an annual income of between $25,000 and $50,000. Of the 19% of consumers who indicated that they enjoyed the car-buying process, 29% were millennials (18-24), 24% were male, and 32% had an annual income greater than $150,000.

As for what they don't like about the car-buying process, the top response among consmers polled was "Don't trust salespeople" at 29%. "Too time consuming" came in second at 19%. When asked how they believed consumers would answer, 32% of dealers assumed "Too time consuing" would be the top complaint, while 16% believed "Don't trust salespeople" would be the top answer.

“Surprisingly, consumers cite lack of trust in salespeople as their No. 1 reason by a large margin. The amount of time the car-buying process takes is also a concern for consumers but it is not rated as dealers’ No. 1 area for improvement,” the report states.

This mistrust in the dealership experience also extended to the financing aspect of car-buying process. When consumers were asked where they preferred to secure their financing, 52% said they preferred to seek an outside source. The majority (49%) cited loyalty to their bank as the main reason for this, however, the second-largest group (36%) of respondents cited mistrust in the dealership as the main reason they look outside the dealership for financing.

According to data from J.D. Power, one approach dealers can take to gain consumer trust and improve CSI is incorporating more technology into the process.

On a scale from one to 10, negotiation figures displayed on a tablet device scored the highest when compared to verbal quotes and handwritten figures, according to the report. On this scale, a seven was considered “outstanding” and a 10 was “truly exceptional.” Handwritten figures scored a 6.92, verbal quotes scored a 7.08 and tablet devices scored an 8.12, according to J.D. Power.

“Interestingly, although it seems obvious that the use of mobile technology should be common practice in the business to consumer world, our data suggests that the majority of dealership users still complete tasks via desktop,” the report read. “Mobile technology promotes transparency. As mobile solutions are utilized more during the sales process, consumer trust increases.

For more finding or to view the full report, click here.

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