The Illusion of Choice: Why Too Many Options Lead Nowhere in Auto Sales

The Illusion of Choice: Why Too Many Options Lead Nowhere in Auto Sales

Picture yourself excitedly browsing a car dealership’s website and clicking on your dream car’s vehicle display page (VDP). You’re greeted by glossy images, detailed specs, and an array of options beckoning you to take the next step. Call us, chat now, schedule a test drive, apply for financing, or simply inquire — each button promises a gateway to your new car. But here’s the catch: despite these myriad options, most roads lead to a dead end.

Let’s Break Down the Customer Experience “Breakdown:”

  1. Call Us — The line rings without an answer or loops back to an automated menu — or worse, rings to someone who doesn’t answer the customer’s questions or ask for the next steps. Oh, and they forget to ask for their name and number. Oops.
  1. Chat Now – A bot responds, rarely escalating to a human who can actually help. 
  1. Schedule a Test Drive — Forms submitted disappear deep into the CRM, but they do get an autoresponder. 
  1. Apply for Financing – Leads to one of two events. Immediately contact. Or leave alone. 
  1. Contact Us – Often the most promising yet equally neglected.

In this digital age, dealerships proudly tout their “online sales” capabilities, yet the reality is anything but a seamless online shopping experience. The promise of convenience and efficiency remains just that — a promise unfulfilled. Do customers really need five different ways to reach out if none effectively lead to meaningful interactions or transactions? It begs the question: has anyone at the dealer level actually researched to determine which call to action is most effective and preferred by customers?

The current overabundance of options confuses customers and dilutes the quality of interactions. If dealerships cannot follow up adequately, wouldn’t adopting a “less is more” approach be better? Simplifying the process could lead to more direct and meaningful engagements, reducing frustration on both ends.

Moreover, as the industry still buzzes about transparency, what customers truly desire seems to have been forgotten. They want clear, straightforward purchasing paths that are easy to navigate and understand—a far cry from the cluttered and often misleading current practices.

So, when will dealerships discard the unnecessary and focus on the essentials? It’s time to return to the basics of customer service: understanding what the customer wants and consistently delivering on those expectations. Two clear, functional options might be more effective than five convoluted ones. If we tell customers what they can expect, it’s imperative we mirror that expectation internally — otherwise, we’re just spinning wheels, going nowhere.

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