J.D. Power released the results of their 2016 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study earlier this month. The study, which is in its 30th year, measures how satisfied customers were with their new-vehicle purchase experience. Among the findings, the study showed that dealerships that utilize product specialists to explain vehicle technologies to buyers scored higher satisfaction scores.

Product Specialists and Satisfaction

Vehicle Technology Specialists

Because vehicles have an increasing number of technology features, buyers are more satisfied when they are taught how to use them. As a result, more dealerships are utilizing product specialists to accomplish this, according to the 2016 J.D. Power SSI Study.

The study found that 24% of luxury owners and 16% of mass market owners worked with both a salesperson and product specialist when buying or leasing their new car. These numbers are up from 19% and 15%, respectively, from just two years ago. Owners who worked with both were more satisfied with their experience, compared to those who only worked with a salesperson.

Today's vehicles can be complex. It helps to have product specialists on hand to take some extra time to explain their features and answer questions. When buyers are aware of  the technology and understand how to use it, they are more satisfied with their new vehicle purchase.

So more dealerships are beginning to utilize product specialists. In fact, some luxury brands require that their dealers have them. The result is that some dealers have actually made the news by hiring teenagers to be product specialists. These adolescents have an acute understanding of all things tech because, like their peers, they haven't known a world without it.

How easy does that sound? It shouldn't be hard for your store to find some part-time high school kids looking for some valuable experience to add to their resumes. Then your salespeople can focus on what they are best at while your product specialists work to boost your customer satisfaction scores.

Other Key Findings from the Study

Additionally, the SSI Study looked at brand rankings and other factors that led to increased customer sales satisfaction.

  • General Motors Dominated Mass Market Brand Satisfaction
    Buick ranked the highest in sales satisfaction among mass market brands for the first time since 2008. MINI, which held the top ranking for the past six years, fell to second place this year. Meanwhile, Chevrolet took third and GMC ranked fourth to give GM three of the four top spots.
  • New School Sales Processes
    Power found that dealers' use of technology during the sales process is increasing. 27% of premium owners and 22% of non-premium owners say their salesperson used a tablet. Tablets and computer displays can allow salespeople to demonstrate vehicle features and display price/payment information.
  • Old School Sales Processes
    Conversely, 42% of all buyers said they used the telephone to call dealers during the shopping process. Satisfaction was found to be higher among those who call dealers than among those who do not. And, weirdly, buyer satisfaction was lower among owners who used the internet to shop compared to those who did not. Clearly, having and maintaining a website is important in this day and age, but it appears that answering the phone is just as, if not more, important. Keep that in mind.

The J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index Study is based on the responses of nearly 29,000 buyers who purchased or leased a new vehicle in April or May of 2016.

The Bottom Line

There's a lot to keep up with as cars continue to implement more and more technology features. Having product specialists on staff can help consumers better understand these features and have a more satisfactory experience.

And if you are looking to satisfy your subprime customers, Auto Credit Express can help. Our industry leading sales leads and dealer products and services are unmatched. We can help you increase the speed, customer satisfaction and profits of your special finance deals. To learn how, give us a call at 888-535-2277. Or, you can fill out our contact form online and we'll get in touch with you.