It’s surely no surprise to hear that car dealers do not have the best reputations. Every year, both used car dealers and new car dealers are the most complained about industries to the BBB locally and internationally.
In the past 12 months, new car dealers generated the fifth most complaints, and used car dealers generated the sixth most complaints in the greater Kansas City area. Throughout the BBB system, they ranked fourth and seventh for complaints, respectively.
Even when car dealers make an effort to resolve complaints, customers are not likely to express satisfaction. When a business gives a reasonable response to a complaint, when compared to the average of all industries, customers are 5 percent less likely to express satisfaction with a car dealer’s response.
Causes for Complaints
Attempting to isolate the primary causes of common dissatisfaction can be frustrating for car dealers. Customers provide a wide array of reasons for their complaints. With most types of business, it’s simple to identify a few key issues an industry faces. For instance, telecommunication companies generate more “service issues” than anything else (28 percent). On the other hand, car dealers generate complaints about:
- Sales issues: 16 percent
- Customer service issues: 13 percent
- Guarantee and warranty issues: 12 percent
- Repair issues: 11 percent
- Billing and collection issues: 10 percent
- Refund/exchange issues: 9 percent
- Product issues: 8 percent
- Service issues: 7 percent
They get complaints about everything in large numbers. Their sales complaints alone equal the total number of complaints the BBB receives against roofing contractors.
Address the Obvious Problems First
Car dealers often assume the high complaint volume is for two obvious reasons.
- Everyone needs a car // In 2016, Americans bought 17.5 million new vehicles and around 38 million used vehicles. The high volume of car-buyers inevitably increases the chances that a problem will occur — and problems cause complaints.
- Cars are large-ticket items for the average consumer // Prices for used vehicles are typically between $5,000-10,000, and new vehicles average around $33,000. Customers who spend a considerable sum of money are quick to anger about problems with their purchase.
Those are both true, and car dealers should be aware of these reasons. Car buying is a $1 trillion industry built upon expensive purchases. However, it is not the whole story. The reasons for dealer complaints are so varied and complicated that some dealers have written books on the subject.
For now, though, car dealers can help themselves by focusing on reducing the number of complaints caused by the above two reasons.
A large customer base makes complaints inevitable, but car dealers receive more complaints than other high-expense industries. Either used or new car dealers receive more complaints than the real estate, roofing and home-building industries combined.
Those industries, as well as area car dealers who work toward a perfect car buying experience, prioritize the following strategies and receive fewer complaints.
- Appreciate the price of the purchase // Salespeople may do this 10 times a day, but their customers may only buy a car every 5 or 10 years. Patiently answering questions instead of glossing over details can defuse customer anxiety. Businesses with an interest in customers’ wellbeing will take time to carefully explain options at the customers’ disposal, even if the best option is not to buy. Pushing for a sale is necessary for the survival of any business, but pushing a customer to make a purchase he or she isn’t ready to make is a recipe for a complaint.
- Be transparent about the problems that may occur // Accurately represent the limitations of a warranty. Based on the overwhelming number of lawsuits filed by consumer protection agencies against car dealers for misleading contracts and warranties, the public believes dealers are commonly bad for the community. Car dealers who want to rise above that reputation must make an extra effort to be as honest and transparent as possible. They’re better off explaining the problems that can arise and telling customers what they should do if the problem arises. Customers won’t feel blindsided if they’ve been prepared for the situation.
This is a first step toward the perfect car buying experience, but it’s where dealers must start if they want to overcome the most common obstacles.
More customer service advice from the Better Business Bureau: