Most dealerships recognize that the growing electric vehicle (EV) market is exacerbating a familiar issue: the declining need for oil changes in newer cars. However, EVs are also introducing a range of less predictable challenges. One particularly significant hurdle is maintaining customer satisfaction, a task that has become increasingly complex as EVs become increasingly accessible to the average consumer.

According to a study reported by WardsAuto, EV buyers are twice as likely to leave one-star ratings for dealerships compared to buyers of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. This trend points to a shift in customer expectations, not just in the product but in the entire dealership experience.

EV buyers are generally tech-savvy, environmentally aware, and well-informed, leading them to have higher expectations for their purchasing and service experiences. As a result, the quality of customer service becomes even more critical. This includes aspects like effective communication, personalization, and overall professionalism of dealership staff.

Dealerships need to recognize each interaction with an EV buyer as an opportunity to impress and build loyalty. From sales to service, every step matters in shaping customer perceptions and experiences. The focus should be on understanding the unique needs and concerns of EV buyers and demonstrating that your dealership is not just selling EVs, but is fully equipped to meet the evolving demands of this market segment.

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Importance of Staff Interaction and Communication

A personal, friendly, and professional approach can significantly enhance the customer experience. Positive customer reviews frequently mention staff members by name, which highlights how important personal connections are in building repeat business (and a strong reputation among a discerning audience).

Compared to ICE vehicles, customers have many more questions and concerns about EVs. As EV technology becomes ever more popular, the ability of staff to relay information and advice effectively becomes key, turning EV complexity into customer satisfaction and loyalty.

So what should your staff do?

Communicate clearly and patiently, without technical jargon

When it comes to EVs, customer queries and concerns can be more intricate due to the novel technology involved. Staff need to articulate complex concepts in a way that is easily understandable, avoiding industry jargon that can confuse or overwhelm some customers.

For instance, explaining the workings of an EV’s battery system should be done in layman’s terms. Instead of diving into the technicalities of regenerative braking systems, they could explain it as a feature that helps conserve energy and enhance the vehicle’s efficiency.

Patience is key, as customers may require time to grasp new information, and a rushed explanation can lead to dissatisfaction or misinformation. This approach not only aids in customer understanding but also demonstrates the practical benefits of EV technology in everyday terms.

Be deliberate about building trust and loyalty with customers

Trust and loyalty are the cornerstones of customer retention, especially in the EV market where clients are making significant investments in new technology. Staff should be proactive in establishing rapport with customers, addressing their concerns with honesty and transparency.

This could involve openly discussing the pros and cons of EV ownership, such as the benefits of lower running costs versus the need for periodic battery maintenance. Building trust also means following up with customers post-purchase to ensure their satisfaction and addressing any issues promptly. This deliberate approach to customer relationship management fosters loyalty and can turn a new EV buyer into a lifelong customer of the dealership.

Let’s take a look at a specific area where staff can practice these things.

Educating Customers on EV Maintenance

The lack of oil changes with EVs marks a significant shift from traditional car care. EVs, powered by batteries and electric motors, don’t require oil, which can surprise many new EV owners accustomed to regular oil changes for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

However, this shift brings a new focus: tire maintenance. EVs are heavier due to their batteries, resulting in faster tire wear. Because of this, staff need to educate EV owners about the need for more frequent tire rotations, emphasizing safety and vehicle longevity.

Transparent communication about these differences not only builds trust with customers but also positions your dealership as a knowledgeable resource for EV care. Adapting to this new maintenance focus demonstrates your dealership’s commitment to customer service and vehicle safety in the evolving automotive landscape.

Not to mention, this provides a natural opportunity to inform customers that your dealership provides tire services, since many customers aren’t even aware their dealership has tire services.

Adapting to EV challenges with standout services

Since EVs introduce new challenges, that requires dealers to adopt new solutions. By offering distinctive services like complimentary renewable benefits with every tire service, dealerships can better attract and retain EV customers.

Benefits like DriveSure’s Road Hazard Tire Protection are a prime example. Because the complexities of tire warranty coverage often lead to misunderstandings, and standard policies don’t typically cover tires as customers might expect, the dealerships that provide DriveSure benefits offer a solution. With DriveSure, road hazard tire issues are resolved at no extra cost for customers who return to your dealership.

So when an EV owner gets a flat tire, their first thought becomes their dealership, where they can have it repaired for free. If a replacement is necessary, there’s coverage for that as well. This offering shifts customer perceptions, so they think of your dealership as the one with the helpful tire services, and with remarkable service overall. It’s this kind of approach that’s exactly what’s needed to meet and exceed the high expectations of EV customers.

What keeps customers coming back to your dealership?

Download the 2023 Dealership Service Retention Report to see what dealership service customers have to say.

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