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Thursday, January 5, 2012 Volume 5 Issue 1  

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Combination Products Expand Offerings in 2012
J.D. Power Releases 2011 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study
Women are Key to Customer Satisfaction
Guide to Handling Objections: Theft Protection Programs
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Women are Key to Customer Satisfaction

According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, overall sales satisfaction averaged 648 on a 1,000-point scale in 2011, up 13 points from 2010. Since females greatly impact customer satisfaction, the editors of F&I Insight asked Jody DeVere, CEO of AskPatty.com, to help us explore the topic of women and customer satisfaction in more detail.

F&I Insight: When it comes to "working out the deal" and "fairness of price," some of the measures in the study, what are some key differences between women and men?

Jody DeVere: The process of negotiation and “haggling” over price began years ago when our grandfathers bargained over horses and other working animals. With the introduction of the “horseless carriage,” the idea of haggling remained, often times ending with a hoodwinked customer and a large commission for the salesperson – and car salespeople could be perceived as the least trustworthy people in town. Today, such underhanded dealings are (hopefully) all but extinct, but the negotiation still remains, and those who enjoy the process of hardball negotiation are, by and large, men.

Women, on the other hand, much prefer to just be told the fixed price. When Saturn introduced fixed prices and low-pressure sales in the 80s, it started a trend that has become very successful. Women don't haggle over jewelry, furniture or many other items that can be on par with a vehicle purchase – so why haggle over a car? Let's not overgeneralize and lump men into their own category, though – even though 72 percent of women car buyers say they prefer haggle-free pricing, according to Kelley Blue Book, more than 60 percent of men feel the same way.

F&I Insight: How do women judge the "honesty of the salesperson," another measure in the study?

Jody DeVere: Responses that feel scripted, are full of hyperbole or attempt to gloss over details are big red flags for women. If you don't know an answer, women want you to say that you don't know and then find out the answer rather than making something up – even if it's not the answer she wants to hear. Don't try to spin or sugar-coat. Simply, the salesperson who listens more than he or she speaks and truly tries to address the things that the customer says she wants is the salesperson who will succeed in earning her trust.

As an example, I was with a car salesman earlier this year, test-driving a pre-owned car I was interested in. As we made an effort to leave, with the salesperson in the passenger seat beside me, the unthinkable happened – the car wouldn't start. He was shaken but kept his composure and had the car jumped. We proceeded with our test drive, and when we stopped for gas on the way back, the battery died yet again, stranding us across town. I had to laugh at the absurdity of the situation, and as we filled the car with gas while waiting for rescue to arrive, he looked at me, shrugged helplessly and asked with a fatalistic grin, “so, what do you think of the car?” His tone and demeanor said it all: “we both know you're not going to buy this car, and I don't blame you.”

He was right – I didn't buy that car. But I'll tell you this, when I go car shopping again, I'm going to call him. It wasn't his fault the car had a bad battery, and my sense of humor allowed me to make light of the situation, but it was his reaction that sold me on him as an honest salesperson. Rather than scrambling to fix the vehicle and coddle me into believing that this was just some sort of fluke, he simply shrugged and went back to square one.

F&I Insight: According to the J.D. Power and Associates SSI Study Press Release: “Although technology demonstrations add time to the delivery process, those explanations substantially improve satisfaction, as well as customer loyalty and advocacy,” said Jim Gaz, director of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. “It would intuitively seem that buyers are most satisfied when the sales process is completed in the shortest amount of time possible. However, buyers actually appreciate it when sales staff spends additional time with them, as long as that time provides them with added value.” Is this something that you think rings true in the female segment too?

Jody DeVere: This is a phenomenon we've been aware of since the beginning of the Ask Patty Certified Female Friendly Program. Though it seems intuitive that a quick sale is a satisfied one, when it comes to a vehicle purchase, women can take months (17 weeks on average for a new car) to make a final decision. It's important that dealers understand this and give their women customers the freedom to make buying decisions on their own.

F&I Insight: What advice would you have for dealers performing a technology demonstration (including audio, entertainment, navigation and communications systems) for female consumers?

Jody DeVere: Our advice is to keep it simple, simple, simple. Highlight the ease of use, and focus on the intuitive use rather than illustrating the system's power or racing through features. Three simple demonstrations of key features, with a focus on usability, will be a more powerful demonstration than a feature bullet list or comprehensive tour.

Featuring Jody DeVere, CEO of AskPatty.com

Jody DeVere is the CEO and President of AskPatty.com, Inc. AskPatty.com helps automotive retailers attract, sell, retain and increase loyalty with women customers. Certified dealers are held to a high level of customer satisfaction. Visit www.askpatty.com/getcertified to learn more about how to become an AskPatty.com Certified Female Friendly Dealer. Contact Jody via e-mail at jdevere@askpatty.com.



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