Car brands are increasingly putting focus on improving their customer service at the car dealerships. In a highly competitive marketplace where sales are getting hard to achieve through traditional methods this is to be expected.

If we take a look back to understand how automotive sales and customer experiences have evolved, the big thing 10 years ago was car brands adjusting to the commercial power of the internet and adopting dynamic websites. The official website of a brand is a trustworthy place to begin our investigation to acquire a new object – in this case, a new car. It is our first encounter, the first touch point,  where we get our basic questions answered. We can scroll through the car’s technical characteristics and view enticing and close up photos. The website also often serves as a gateway to contact with the company employees. Consequently, we want it to be easy to navigate with a feeling of going with the flow. We want to feel welcomed and connected and not having to be led down endless roads or up dead-ends. 

Once our initial research is done we are ready to hit the road and  visit the nearest dealership of the brand we desire. The first chance for  a real look at the beauty we’re about to acquire. We are getting closer to our goal. Inside the store the interior decoration, the layout and the way we are treated by staff  is crucial. A welcoming atmosphere should fill the place. The customer experience we experienced and which pleased us on the website should  continue and must be coherent. The sole fact that we have taken the second step, shows our intent. Now it is up to the employee at the dealership, to either help us climb one more step closer to the goal or to push us backwards off the cliff.  It is here where we expect to be greeted and served with a friendly knowledgeable approach to not end up in the situation where pushy sales techniques may push us out as fast as we came in.

The main competitive tool, as Gartner insists, by the end of 2016 will be – yes you guessed it – customer experience. Even when we are convinced that our favorite brand is superior to the rest, in many cases there is an existing competitor out there that can actually provide an equal product and service. What will distinguish our choice is just a matter of personal experience and the strength of that brand image.

Accenture, a multinational consultancy,  performed  a study and found out that for 81% of respondents, personalized customer experience is among  the top 3 priorities of organizations. Micah Solomon analyzed customer experience trends and established 5 interesting trends as to what we as customers expect:

  1. A preference for being served in a way that makes the customer feel that those serving and those being served are equals.
  2. A streamlined and hassle-free/friction-free experience. As easy as on the web.
  3. Authenticity: today’s customers are on a quest for what is genuine, authentic, what feels like “the genuine article.”
  4. Transparency: A preference for businesses to be open and forthright in explanations, pricing, quality standards, vendor relations, and so forth.
  5. Adventure and Experience: A feeling that most commercial interactions are improved if there is an element of adventure, excitement, a true “experience” within the customer experience.

Coming back to our car buying experience, it doesn’t stop at driving the car home. Now we turn to the very much needed service we’ll be experience years and years to come (hopefully), in the so called “after-sales” service. The service we experience  will affect our decision to still be a brand ambassador and to continue our relationship with the brand.  Or, if we feel rather disappointed to go out and start the process again and look for another car.  

According to  Shana Rusonis, in the future, customers will care less and less about the ‘thing’ they’re buying, and will increasingly look for the value in the impact of that product or service post-transaction.

As customers it is important we get into action mode if we don’t feel we are treated the way we deserve to be. We are the ones that have the power to improve the service.  We are the engine of the future automotive industry.

Author: Vicky Lima  

Vicky Lima is a multifaceted professional with a Master Degree in Advertising. She is passionate about customer experience and the Automotive world. Besides her work in social media, she shares her passion and knowledge about cars as a writer. An avid traveler around the world investigating the relationship between customers and brands. 

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Welche Rolle spielt das Unbewusste beim Autokauf

A considerable part of our decision making is guided by the subconscious and this is also the case when it comes to making decisions on spending. As the results of a study reveal, our subconscious is always alert, even in a loud and busy environment such as the hustle of a cocktail party, people are able to filter and identify information that is relevant to them, for example, their own name and one specific conversation. This phenomenon is known as the Cocktail Party Effect. But what does that have to do with purchasing a car?

The processing of stimuli on a psychological level

The results of the experiment suggest that an acoustic stimulus is never only processed on a physical level, but also always has psychological relevance. Without being aware of it, we constantly evaluate and categorize the acoustic input we receive. Many of the decisions we make every day remain unconscious to us and though we might consider them to be our objective choices, we are often influenced by the environment a certain product or service is placed in. Similarly, advertising leaves us with a positive image of a product, in the same way as an attractive sales office and the charms and appeals of its employees can direct our decisions. Indeed, it is not only acoustic signals that appeal to our unconscious, but stimuli of all kinds.

A gravel car park versus an elegant show room – the same car?

People will perceive the quality of a car that is sold on the gravel car park next door as considerably lower than the quality of a car displayed in the ambiance of an elegant show room – even though it could be the very same car.

The significant impact of our unconscious on our processes of perception and evaluation is highlighted by yet another study: Two groups of participants were shown a picture of the same middle-range car. However, whereas the first group was shown an image of only the car, the second group saw an image of the car accompanied by an attractive, young woman leaning over the driver’s door. Besides being pleasant on the eye, the girl had no other function.

After looking at the photographs the members of each group were asked to assess the car. Interestingly, the group which had been shown the image of the car with the woman judged the car to be more expensive, more appealing and more youthful than the first group, but also it was estimated to be less secure. Nevertheless, 90% of the participants claimed to have focused only on the car and said that they did not let themselves be influenced by the good-looking girl. Well, this certainly opens up new possibilities for implementations/sales strategies at the Point of Sale since the prestige of a business and its environment clearly impact on the costumer’s perception. And indeed, those factors are taken into account.

Car manufacturers and their hostess girls – why?

The principle of displaying a car together with an attractive woman seems to work just as well/to be applied just as successfully at big car fares: In order to create a more appealing, exciting and youthful image of the car, the manufacturer hires good-looking girls, so-called hostesses, who then pose next to the car. In the course of the event, journalists take pictures of them and hence also their audience will see these pictures of the pretty girls next to the new cars. Often these pictures go all around the world – especially if a new product is at stake.

It can be assumed that the same effect is hoped to be achieved: And in fact, sometimes it seems that representatives of the media forget about the car and only remember the brand an the beautiful girl associated with it. A few days later, the car itself might be perceived in a more positive light and even the article written about it could turn out more enthusiastic.

…so last time you were at the car dealership, did you really just look at the cars?


Author: Benjamin Brodbeck
@automativBenjamin Brodbeck Publicist Automativ Guest Blogger BARE International

Benjamin Brodbeck, 24 years old, is a multifaceted petrolhead. Besides his work as a jazz pianist, he brings his passion and knowledge about cars as a publicist at He studied Automotive Business Management and is currently doing his master’s degree in journalism at the University of Vienna.

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If in Doubt Choose the Car. Why? Benjamin Brodbeck

Most Europeans still feel a strong emotional connection to their car. But why is that the case? In Florence, a group of Italian researchers conducted an experiment investigating the process of decision making by consumers: In most cases, a consumer will choose going by car over using public transport,  even in cases where taking public transport represents a faster, cheaper and more efficient option. The ‘automobile effect’ makes clear why so many people prefer driving a car to more economic alternatives.

The car wins – even though it is expensive

We do not always make rational decisions, especially when it comes to the choice of transportation. Instead of considering all possible options and choosing the most time-saving and economic one, many people prefer to be the driver themselves – even if it is not the most efficient option.

Scientists studied a group of participants who were engaging in a game about modes of transportation. In this game, participants were given the choice between going by car or taking the metro. Each player started off with a certain budget and taking into account expenses and travelling time, had to select their preferred mode of transportation. Mirroring real life conditions, the price for the metro tickets was fixed whereas the costs for using the car varied depending on the weather, accidents, construction work on the roads and other events. In addition, the costs for using the car were dependent on the ‘traffic’, that is on the number of other players going by car.

In the best-case scenario of the experiment travelling by car was cheaper than travelling by metro because it was the quickest option. However, when the traffic reached its peak, taking the metro was clearly the cheaper option. In total, 50 rounds were played and after each round, the players received feedback on their performance and were asked to decide again on a preferred mode of transportation. As the game went on, the researchers expected the participants to learn from their mistakes and make more informed decisions – especially since an improved performance resulted in a financial profit. After the first series of the experiment, the researchers changed the option ‘metro’ to ‘bus’. Nevertheless, the percentage of participants choosing automobile over public transportation continued to be 55% or even higher. The participants showed a clear preference for the automobile, even when the cost of going by car was about 50% higher than that for the metro. Changing the option ‘metro’ to ‘bus’ brought about similar results.

It seems that people are highly biased when it comes to selecting a mode of transport and our decision appears to be based on rather simple rules.

The choice of transport is often guided by our emotions

Taking into consideration the fact that it was only a game and people only had to make ‘theoretical choices’ and they didn’t actually have to get into a car or metro, the results are even more impressive. Even in a purely theoretical context, the participants could not renounce their penchant for cars.

It looks like rational decision making is abandoned when it comes to driving a car – or at least, this seems to be the case for the majority of the people.

Of course, this game is not a solid representation of all aspects of real life decision making, but it does highlight our continued passion for automobiles. Perhaps ultimately, the satisfaction you get from being in full control of your own mobility is what drives your choice.

Can you relate to these results and would you also choose to go to work by car than use the bus or metro?


Benjamin Brodbeck Publicist Automativ Guest Blogger BARE InternationalAuthor: Benjamin Brodbeck @automativ

Benjamin Brodbeck, 24 years old, is a multifaceted petrolhead. Besides his work as a jazz pianist, he brings his passion and knowledge about cars as a publicist at He studied Automotive Business Management and is currently doing his master’s degree in journalism at the University of Vienna.

Interested in becoming an Automotive Evaluator with BARE International?

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Want to be a guest blogger for BARE’s Automotive community We Are Cars?

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