The Marchex Blog

Consumers Have New Expectations when Buying a Car: How to Meet Them

The global supply chain crisis has completely changed the way U.S. consumers buy vehicles. The days when a customer walked into a dealership, talked to a salesperson, and drove home in a new car are long gone. Instead, consumers want to inquire on vehicle availability and have a clear path to purchase. Yet for many auto shoppers, the call and conversation with a salesperson is the point at which the customer experience begins to sour. 

As a call tracking provider for thousands of dealerships across multiple auto brands, Marchex has analyzed more than 60,000 consumer-to-dealer phone conversations from across the U.S. to assess the current state of car-buying.  The results detail the challenges dealerships and manufacturers are facing to answer questions about availability and the vehicle-ordering process. Auto dealers may want to take these findings into account during sales interactions if they want to meet the new buyer expectations and win their customers’ trust.   

For instance, it’s worth noting that according to our findings, 79 percent of shoppers prefer to call and speak with a representative at the dealership before visiting to make sure their preferred vehicle is available. This isn’t an unreasonable request given the ongoing vehicle and parts shortages. Despite this preference, we found that 16 percent of customers who call never connect with a sales representative. Additionally, those who do connect often do not get clear answers regarding which vehicles are in stock, or what steps to take if they want to make a purchase. Resolving these gaps in communication can put auto dealers in a positive standing with consumers. Not only would it improve the customer experience, it would also put dealers in a better position with potential buyers to close more opportunities once they understand the new customer expectations and adjust their sales processes accordingly.  

To help auto dealers and manufacturers understand how to address these potential buyer needs, a new Marchex study details three common experiences of today’s vehicle shopper along with recommendations on how to create better customer experiences and outcomes. To review the study findings, download the whitepaper: Car Buying Has Entered a New Era. How Can Dealers Keep Up?