The Automotive Buyer Experience Benchmark Report
Automotive Consumer Experience Expectations In the Face of Inflation
When we released our Buyer Experience Benchmark Report last year, dealerships and automotive service and repair businesses were feverishly shifting strategies to meet rapidly changing consumer preferences that were exacerbated by the necessities of the pandemic. While consumers locked up at home were getting more comfortable with completing complex purchases online, they developed a stronger desire for making human connections and demanded better experiences from brands.
As we have eased out of pandemic restrictions and everybody is ready to be outside, be with people, and get rid of those pesky mask tan lines, inflation has reared its ugly head, putting new pressures on consumers and demands on automotive businesses.
As prices rise, so are demands for superior customer experiences. And the results of the 2022 Invoca Buyer Experience Report show that businesses that don’t meet consumer expectations are at a higher risk of losing customers than ever.
Just like last year, we surveyed 500 consumers who have completed a high-stakes purchase in the last year. We define a “high-stakes purchase” as one that you take time to weigh options, research, and/or put more thought into before making a decision, due to complexity and/or cost of the item or service. In this year’s survey, 38% of respondents reported researching and making an automotive-related purchase in the last 12 months. Another 30% did the research but did not make a purchase decision.
Check the report to see what consumers expect when making automotive purchases and what dealerships and repair shops are risking when they let customers down.
About the Survey
What do my customers want?
Inflation Driving Increased Demand for Superior Customer Experiences
Inflation is undoubtedly putting the screws to consumers, so it’s more important than ever that businesses provide superior experiences to earn their business. Rising inflation has consumers rethinking high-stakes purchases like cars and big-ticket repairs. You don’t want the service you provide to give them any reason for pause.
are slightly less likely or much less likely to make a purchase at all due to inflation
As a result of inflation, many car buyers are doing more research to find the best prices. This means you have to make your pricing and promotions stand out.
Consumers are shopping by price
say inflation has affected their purchasing decisions and timeline
of consumers will do more research than they did last year to find the best price
of consumers ranked high prices as the #1 reason they’ll stop doing business with a company
Your customers are willing to pay more for great service, but they’ll also make you pay if you don’t provide it. Consumers have less patience than ever for bad experiences, and they won’t hesitate to stop doing business with you—even after a single negative experience.
One bad experience can drive away most of your customers
of consumers will stop doing business with you after just one bad experience
Your Customers Want to Talk
Inflation & Customer Experience Demands
Customers Want to Call
Customer Call Experience Expectations
The Power of Personalization
Learn More About Invoca
will do more research to find the best customer experience
say that they will pay more for a product or service to get better customer service
While consumers are concerned about cost, they expect the best customer service available when they’re putting a bigger chunk of cash down. And they’ll even pay extra for it!
Despite inflation, consumers will pay more for superior buying experiences
Want to Talk
When people are shopping for a car or a reputable repair facility, making a personal connection can be a powerful motivator. Most of your customers will call at some point during the buying journey, so it’s critical that you get the experience right.
In our 2022 survey, we found that the phone is the most preferred communication channel when consumers are having a problem and need help, up 8% since 2021 and overtaking online as the preferred channel.
Consumers prefer phone calls over all other channels
of consumers prefer to call when they need help with a high-stakes purchase
preferred to call in 2021
Most automotive consumers rank the phone as their preferred channel when they need help with a purchase. And chatbots came in a distant last.
How automotive consumers prefer to contact businesses when they need help
When automotive consumers contact a business, the chatbot is still the least preferred channel. But people have warmed up to our robotic customer service helpers considerably since 2021 with 7% more consumers reporting they prefer to interact with an automated assistant in “most situations.”
Humans are better, but automotive consumers are warming up to chatbots
now prefer to interact with a chatbot
preferred the chatbot in 2021
never want to interact with a chatbot in any scenario
Gen Z/Millennial: 32%
Gen X: 21%
Baby Boomer: 5%
I heart chatbots.
It may not come as a surprise, but the growth in chatbot acceptance is mainly due to acceptance by younger consumers. Here’s who prefers the bot in most situations and who said they would rather never interact with a chatbot:
Younger consumers are chill with the chatbot
Gen Z/Millennial: 9%
Gen X: 27%
Baby Boomer: 45%
Get that freaking robot away from me!
Reasons customers are calling:
Across all industries we surveyed, consumers say that they are most likely to call because they want to get more information about the product or the purchase process. About 30% are just more comfortable completing the purchase over the phone. The number three reason is disconcerting, though: nearly 1 in 3 said they called because they couldn’t find what they were looking for online. A bad online experience is not why you want customers to call.
Why consumers call businesses
My preferred channel for completing transactions is:
Your customers might do research online, call for help on the phone, and go back online to complete the purchase. This is why it’s so important to provide a fully connected and seamless omnichannel buying experience. Above all, you have to meet your customers where they are and make sure they can buy the way they want to.
Most people prefer to complete transactions online, in person, and on the phone, respectively. The eye-opener is that 12% prefer to complete transactions via chatbot or text!
Of course, they still want to buy online
To share personal information required for the sale
To complete the sale because I was more comfortable doing it on the phone
The information I needed was not available online
To gather more information about the purchase process
To gather more information about the product
called in 2021
called in 2022
Automotive consumers are 6% more likely to call than they were in 2020
Call, They Demand Superior Experiences
Most of your automotive consumers will call at some point during the buying journey, and most will stop doing business with you after just one bad experience. More than any other channel, it’s important that you get the call experience right.
If customers don’t decide to stop doing business with you because of a bad experience on the phone, the manager is sure to get an earful. So will the callers’ friends and anyone who reads your online reviews.
They’ll talk about bad phone experiences
We asked respondents to select all the reasons that they believe constitutes negative customer service on the phone with a business. Rude agents top the list and long hold times and too many transfers follow closely behind. An inability to live up to promises and a lack of empathy also rank high on the list for souring customers on the phone.
But what makes customer
service on the phone bad?
When respondents ranked the possible reasons why they would stop doing business with a company, a bad phone experience was second only to high prices.
Treating customers poorly on the phone? They won’t be customers for long.
The #1 reason I’ll stop doing business with a company is:
Lack of inventory or availability of products I want to purchase
Lack of product knowledge on behalf of customer service or sales reps
Poor call experience
Ask to talk to a manager
When I have a bad experience on the phone with a company I will:
Tell others about the experience
Stop doing business with that company
Write a negative review on an online review site
Mention the company on social media to bring attention to the experience
The #1 reason I’ll leave a negative review is:
Poor call experiences
Lack of availability or options of products I want to purchase
Poor website experience
I feel that the following constitute a bad customer experience on the phone:
Long hold times
Too many transfers
Having to repeat information
Agent could not fulfill advertised promotions or item/service unavailable
Lack of empathy
I have hung up because I heard a message about “high call volumes” and “wait times being longer than usual.”
I have hung up after being placed on hold.
We found that consumers are getting more patient since our last Buyer Experience Report survey in 2021. While 2/3 reported hanging up after being placed on hold this year, that’s less than the 3/4 who did so in 2021.
Consumers are getting more patient*
Yes, people are slightly more patient than last year, but we’re coming down from a high watermark. And automotive shoppers are less patient than most other industries So take the increased patience with a pile of asterisks.
*But not that patient
But how do hold time expectations align with how long people will wait? 80% of those surveyed say they expect to wait 10 minutes or less on hold and about 60% said they hung up in 10 minutes or less. About 2% expect to wait on hold for over an hour!
I expect to wait on hold:
I hung up after waiting:
Industries where customers are most likely to expect hold times under 2 minutes:
I hung up immediately
In 2021, only 5% of consumers were confident that business would actually call them back if they selected the automated callback option instead of waiting on hold. It looks like people found out it actually works, because now 40% said they would choose the callback option instead of waiting on hold.
More consumers now trust the automated callback option
If a business offers an automated callback option instead of waiting on hold, I will:
42% – Use the automated call-back option
25% – Wait on hold
24% – Call another time
9% – Call another business
13% – All the time
19% – Most of the time
29% – Sometimes
31% – Rarely
7% – Never
I raise my voice or get noticeably angry with contact center agents when I have a bad experience:
Yes, customers hanging up is bad, but just think about your salespeople who are on the receiving end of your customers’ grief. One-third of respondents said that they will likely raise their voice or get noticeably angry with agents if they have a bad experience on the phone. Fewer than 10% said they never get mad at agents.
Seriously, you don’t want to flex with your customers
2 minutes or less
I don’t expect to wait at all
A big part of making personal connections with your customers is personalization. It kind of makes sense, right? An overwhelming majority of consumers expect a company that they have done business with before to know some details about them when they call, like who they are, their purchase history, and even what product or service they are looking for. What’s even more interesting is that most consumers have the same expectation for companies they have never done business with before.
Most businesses are no strangers to creating personalized experiences online, but it turns out that consumers expect more personalization when they call than when they click. And almost nobody expects no personalization at all.
Consumers expect the most personalized experiences on the phone
When you personalize your customers' experience, they trust your business more and are more likely to do business with you in the future. When we asked people to list how they feel when a company personalized their interactions, only a small percentage of respondents said that they think personalization is creepy or invasive.
Personalization earns your customers’ trust and loyalty
Learn How to Create Better Customer Experiences
I have done business with before
I have not done business with before
When I call a business...
I don’t expect them to know anything about me
Are aware of my online activity
Know what I’m looking for
Know who I am (e.g. basic info like address/phone/email)
Know my purchase history
I expect that they:
Know who I am
Know why I am calling
Keep a record of our call to better serve me next time
In promos and ads
On the phone
I expect the highest level of personalization:
expect no personalization at all
When a company does do a good job of personalizing our interactions:
I feel like they care about earning my business
I’m more likely to do business with them
I trust them more
I feel they’re more innovative
I think personalization is invasive or creepy
I trust them less
I don’t care about personalized experiences
In order to receive more effective and efficient service, people are most willing to share:
But it’s TMI when you ask for:
Age, to offer me fitting products and/or deals
Occupation, to offer me more personalized deals
Online browsing history to provide more personalized service or offers
Ages of others in your household, to offer me more personalized deals
Income, to offer me fitting products and/or deals
But it’s TMI when you ask for:
Name to track purchases I’ve made before
Phone number to track when I’ve called before
Phone number to track purchases I’ve made
Mailing address to track purchases I’ve made before
Email to track purchases I’ve made
Take personal data personally
Businesses need to walk a fine line in collecting data to improve the customer experience.
Learn How You Can Create Better Experiences for Every Customer
In an economy where everyone is under inflation-driven financial pressure, automotive consumers are seeking more value for their money, and for many, that means getting the best experience possible.
Invoca AI-powered conversation intelligence can help you provide a superior experience to every customer from click to call to conversion. Start the conversation with one of our experts to learn more.
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You can view the 2021 Invoca Buyer Experience Benchmark Report here
500 consumers who have completed a high-stakes purchase between March 2021 and March 2022. A HIGH-STAKES PURCHASE is defined as one that you take time to weigh options, research, and/or put more thought into before making a decision, due to complexity and/or cost of the item or service. Examples of this include buying a car, home improvements like a new roof, signing up for cable service, insurance policies, mortgages and loans, finding a new healthcare provider or purchasing travel accommodations.
Less than $25,000
$25,000 - $49,999
$50,000 - $74,999
$75,000 - $99,999
$100,000 - $199,999
Less than high school
High school graduate
Prefer not to answer