How to reduce customer anxiety in car sales
By Julia Borges
Purchasing a vehicle is always a big deal. From deciding between various vehicle options to filling out all necessary paperwork, it can certainly cause a fair amount of anxiety for customers. Financing or leasing a car has always been viewed as a long, tedious process with many steps that will most likely keep customers there for the majority of their day – and in some cases, can even take multiple days.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, this process was seen as cumbersome and time-consuming; but with the new social distancing regulations and increased level of worry, potential customers are dealing with an added level of anxiety surrounding this process. Since the start of this global pandemic, Americans have reported significant and sustained increases in symptoms of anxiety surrounding COVID-19 for multiple reasons; one of which is a deep concern for their health and safety with three in five Americans reporting fear of contracting the virus (1). This safety concern not only influences customers to spend less money, but they are even less likely to look into financing or leasing a vehicle right now with fear of contracting the virus. In China, the first country to be impacted by COVID-19, vehicle sales have fallen 79% in the last few months with sales in the United States following close behind (2). While car dealerships are slowly opening back up with various restrictions, these concerns and levels of anxiety are still very present in potential buyers and it is crucial that organizations are able to navigate these effectively. Below are two approaches that can support successful management of these challenges.
1. Sales team approach. Sales teams’ customer service skills are more important than ever. With customers’ increasing levels of anxiety, hesitancy and concerns regarding safety, it is crucial that sales members are able to help reduce these levels of anxiety in customers in order to make those crucial sales. Building on these critical social skills and navigating the psychology and sensitivities of customers have become some of the most important skills in a time like this. It will not only be important to highlight skills necessary to navigate customer anxiety, but it will also be crucial to learn how to navigate safe selling. Many customers will be concerned with social distancing, so when it comes time for any in-person activities, your sales team needs to know how to frame the discussion and navigate those concerns safely and effectively.
2. Virtual car sales process improvement. While car sales processes are naturally longer with various steps, it’s worth exploring how they can be improved. Many vehicle sales organizations have improved their virtual sales capabilities because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is always room for improvement, especially because many customers are still experiencing long, painful processes when they go to buy a new car. Additionally, it is important to think about the safety of the sales transaction. Historically, there have been a lot of steps in the process which include high levels of contact between people. These organizations need to think about ways to make this process safer, with less contact, so customers are more comfortable with purchasing a car. When assessing and improving these processes, it is crucial that organizations have experts and subject matter experts in this area to ensure success. This may mean utilizing resources within your organization or seeking out experienced consultants who specialize in this type of work.
When solving business challenges, it is always key to remember that we must effectively integrate both the person and process component into our daily operations. The proper balance and integration of these two variables is critical to any organization’s lasting success, especially in times like these. While sales are a large part of an organization’s success, this is not business-as-usual, and organizations need to be agile and able to consider other factors in order to succeed. As a consulting firm specializing in these areas, Propulo is an expert in the space of safety culture, process improvement and customer experience transformation – all of which are components that can support the successful navigation of customer needs. Our experience and knowledge in challenges like these have allowed us to help our clients weather the storm and succeed through challenging these times.