The Case for Automotive Dealership Mystery Shopping Programs

By Al Goldsmith

Being a good son-in-law, I have taken on the responsibility of finding my mother-in-law a new car. Her lease expires soon and I have been dedicated to getting her the best deal possible—but on a car that is safe for her and for my kids (which she is frequently carting around to go shopping, go see horses, or go get ice cream). My search has included all dealership’s channels and touchpoints: online research, phone conversations, and in-person visits. These interactions with multiple dealerships have all had one main thing in common: Absolutely no two were the same (which, based on the experiences, is both good and bad).

Because of these varied interactions, I began wondering if those brands were conducting mystery shops at their locations…because if they weren’t, they should really start! In previous blogs, I have discussed the basics of mystery shopping and how this methodology has evolved over the years. But the one thing that has never changed is how excellent of a tool mystery shopping is for monitoring and improving brands’ service levels to customers. Through my car-searching venture for my mother-in-law, I clearly experienced why auto manufacturers need to have a dealership-level mystery shopping program. Consider the following reasons for implementing a mystery shopping program at your dealership:

Why do Mystery Shops?

  1. Confirm if business standards are being met—You implement business standards to address both operational requirements and the needs of those you serve. Mystery shops then measure whether or not your dealerships are delivering on those standards. For instance, is the customer being greeted upon entering the dealership? Is the customer being asked about his or her need, specific models of interest, or how he or she will use the vehicle? More importantly, are your representatives asking for the sale!
  2. Learn what customers are actually experiencing—Truly understand why the quantitative numbers from your CX measurements or VOC surveys are the way they are and how can you improve them.
  3. Identify gaps within the customer experience—Improve customer experience by identifying gaps in dealerships’ performance, as it relates to the pre-established goals and objectives set forth by the brand. This a critical component of being able to improve the overall customer experience.
  4. Determine if training initiatives are being carried out—Evaluate the changes in behavior based on corporate interventions or specific training. Is there a change in performance after additional training is received? Mystery shopping can also help identify, initially, exactly which behaviors or processes are incorrect or under-performing to help build a more relevant and substantive training initiative.
  5. Confirm whether marketing efforts are being deployed—Determine if there are gaps between promises made though advertising and sales promotions and what is delivered. Are all locations fully stocked with sales brochures, promotional materials, and other in-store signage elements that can attract the attention of customers or provide them with more information?
  6. Assess competitor performance to establish a benchmark—Conducting mystery shops—based on your current standards—at competitors’ locations allows you to identify areas of strength and areas of opportunity compared to other brands vying for your customers’ Go to the full article.

    Source:: Business 2 Community

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