Automotive - Mystery Shopping, Surveys and other Services for an excellent CX

References and projects for car manufacturers, car dealership chains and service companies

concertare has been active in the automotive sector for about 20 years. Our customers are car manufacturers, car importers, car dealers, service companies in the automotive sector, suppliers, and consulting companies specialized in the automotive sector.

In several 1,000 projects, we have worked on a wide range of different tasks.

Project topics and project goals in the automotive sector

  • Increased sales through targeted development of sales staff in terms of their sales skills
  • Increasing customer satisfaction through higher quality customer contact, greater service orientation, and customer centricity and retention programs
  • Determination of training needs
  • Verification of training success through training success monitoring programs
  • Competitor monitoring and generation of benchmark data
  • Determination of transaction prices to control sales promotion activities
  • Studies on special topics such as e-mobility, connectivity, digitalization, autonomous driving
  • International projects with the aim of standardizing sales processes
  • Measurement and development of contact quality at all customer interfaces and touchpoints along the customer journey
  • Lost sales analyses
  • Conducting audits to check compliance with given standards, especially in the areas of corporate identity, CI, CD, sales, marketing, service

Clients (Extract)

Methods for improving customer relationship management in the automotive sector

Within the framework of these projects, several million data were collected using a wide variety of instruments. The most important instruments used are:

  • Mystery research procedures
  • Customer surveys, employee surveys, surveys of sales partners
  • Process analyses, for example, of the processing of inquiries and leads, the follow-up of sales contacts, compliance with manufacturer specifications, or car dealership internal standards.

Mystery Shopping in the Area of Automotive

The instruments most frequently used by us in the automotive sector are mystery research procedures, which are used to investigate all touchpoints along the customer journey.

Mystery shopping is used to measure and develop all customer contact channels, in particular through test purchases, test visits, test consultations, test calls, test emails, workshop tests, determination of net prices, observations, and audits.

A special feature of mystery research procedures is that these instruments are often used not only for measurement, but also for individual and continuous employee development. The instruments, which are often also summarized under the term mystery shopping, create incentives at various levels for employees in customer contact to reflect on and change their sales behavior.

The mere knowledge that tests are being conducted on a regular basis prompts a large number of employees to adhere more closely to the specified standards and to treat customers in a more customer-oriented manner throughout. In internal and external benchmarks many employees want to do well and work hard for a good ranking showing consistent performance above average.

Most employees see the value of professionally conducted mystery shopping in the opportunity to gain information for their individual development. There is no more authentic situation for reflecting on one's own behavior than timely feedback on a real customer conversation.

In the automotive industry, this is taken into account through the increasing use of so-called feedback tests. Specially trained mystery shoppers are used for this purpose. After the test, they identify themselves as mystery shoppers and give the car salesperson individual feedback on the service quality they experienced during the conversation. This includes positive and negative aspects and is a highly valued opportunity for all employees in customer contact to objectively reflect on their own behavior and change it if necessary.

Especially in the automotive industry, mystery shopping can be used to test criteria that are beyond the scope of a customer survey or similar. This applies, for example, to all internal standards that are not even known to normal customers. Trained mystery shoppers are taught these internal standards, and careful training enables the mystery shoppers to assess whether these standards have been met.

Another important aspect is the recording of a holistic customer experience for specific sub-aspects of the customer journey. This can include, for example, the initiation phase, in which test calls (mystery calls) or test e-mails (mystery mails) are used to measure and develop topics such as an initial inquiry, a request for information, or an appointment.

In a next step, the visit to the car dealership is examined. Here, aspects of the dealership (findability, parking situation, presentation of vehicles, cleanliness and order, etc.) as well as employee-related aspects (greeting, needs analysis, quality of advice, behavior, etc.) are tested. The so-called follow-up can also be checked: the testers wait to see whether the salesperson generates a follow-up to the contact made and actively calls or writes to them to follow up.

Automotive: customer surveys, non-customer surveys, dealer surveys

concertare has many years of industry experience in the conception and implementation of surveys for a wide variety of target groups in the automotive sector. The most frequently conducted surveys are aimed at customers and determine purchase motives, customer expectations, and customer satisfaction.

A second very frequently used instrument is non-customer surveys, in which potential customers are asked about their expectations, the perception of their own versus competitor brands, and possible sales arguments.

In the area of dealer surveys, too, we rely on the knowledge we have built up over the years as well as on individually adaptable survey instruments that have been used successfully. On request, we also carry out standardized employee surveys, e.g., in car dealerships, in addition to employee training and mystery shopping.

Attracting and retaining customers with excellent car salespeople

The orientation of projects when carrying out mystery shopping in the automotive trade can vary greatly. Basically, a variety of different orientations can be differentiated, which can be served either individually or in combination.

Projects for the development of employees: with regard to better customer centricity, more quality in customer contact, increase in customer satisfaction, conversion, and follow-up rate. Such projects are initiated by manufacturers and importers, as well as by car dealerships or car dealership chains.

Projects to develop training needs or to measure training success: The aim of these projects is to review and adapt training concepts, training content, and coaching measures. The clients for such projects in the area of training are usually the manufacturers and importers, who want to use them to optimally align their central training activities.

Projects to determine transaction prices: Here, especially in the case of competition, discussions are held until shortly before the deal is concluded, i.e. all prices are negotiated as far as possible. It is recorded whether and in what form price reductions are given. The data is used by the relevant units in automotive sales to review and adjust their own measures to promote sales of specific models or segments.

Projects to review contractually agreed standards: The relationship between manufacturers and automotive dealers is governed by extensive contracts in which hundreds of standards are agreed upon. Manufacturers use audits and mystery shopping to verify the extent to which automotive dealers adhere to agreed standards.

Lost revenue projects: These projects take place in both the Sales and Workshop areas.

In Sales, prospects are surveyed who have visited the dealership but not yet purchased, and for whom the lead has been closed. The analysis reveals why potential customers could not be convinced to buy. In addition, leads are often defined that are marked as closed, but the customer's decision is still open.

In the area of workshops, this approach is often chosen: Using prepared vehicles that have a number of defects, a maintenance or service check is carried out to see whether employees recognize defects and actively address rectification.

Such projects are interesting for manufacturers/importers as well as for car dealership operators themselves. There is often very high untapped sales potential in this area.

Projects to develop quality in customer contact at international level: These projects are aimed in particular at optimizing sales processes in defined groups of countries or worldwide. Since there are market-specific features and conditions in each country, it is particularly important here to take central and market-specific aspects into account right from the design stage. In addition to in-depth technical expertise, this also requires intercultural knowledge and a great deal of experience and tact in order to achieve a high level of acceptance of such a project across all markets.

Special projects: In such projects, there are a large number of very different tasks. One example is projects in which real purchases of automobiles are made with the aim of identifying and closing unauthorized sales sources. Other examples are projects in which atypical touchpoints are checked, for example, a breakdown to check assistance services or a workshop visit with the aim of obtaining an express repair.

Mystery research at the car dealership: new cars, used cars, workshop and more

Mystery shopping can be used to check and develop all areas of the dealership. This is done especially in the following areas:

  • New car tests
  • Used car tests
  • Workshop tests
  • Parts

All forms of mystery shopping are used here, such as test calls, test e-mails, test visits. This can be done in different scenarios (without advance notice, with advance notice, without/with alignment to a named target person). In the area of workshop testing, different scenarios can be distinguished in terms of technical targeting: Oil Change, Season Check, Repair or Maintenance. Depending on the orientation, a variety of different aspects have to be considered, such as type and extent of defects to be installed, rectification of these defects if not found, etc.

The requirements for such workshop projects are becoming increasingly challenging because the variety of models entails a high degree of complexity and, for example, defect installation in many cases requires special technical equipment or prepared parts.

concertare has also been serving such complex projects for many years and can provide valuable advice as early as the conception stage as to which project requirements can be realistically implemented.

BENCHMARK STUDIES FOR THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY

Benchmark studies are a proven means of comparing one's own brand with competitors at various levels. This can cover various areas, such as needs analysis and the conduct of discussions, the approach to certain topics (e-mobility, connectivity, etc.), argumentation with regard to competitive models, and the like.

Such studies usually involve a large number of tests and, if commissioned individually, corresponding costs. However, it is also possible to obtain data that has already been collected, which leads to significant cost advantages.

Since 2005, concertare has regularly conducted corresponding benchmark tests across all relevant brands in the German automotive trade, in which the performance of car dealerships in the areas of new cars, used cars, and lead management is measured in a comparable manner. This data is available to all manufacturers, who can use it to compare themselves with any other brands.

FURTHER INFORMATION FOR AUTOMOTIVE CLIENTS

Current studies, trends, and practical examples on the topics of mystery shopping, test consulting, and customer relationship management in the automotive trade can also be found on our Infocenter as well as in the concertare blog.

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