If you’ve ever bought a car from an auto dealership, this story might ring true for you.
After weeks of test driving, researching, and debating prices, I finally settled on the exact car to buy. I felt relieved to make this decision and couldn’t wait to drive my new ride home.
But there was just one thing left to do: meet with the dealership’s “finance guy” to finalize everything. What should have been a quick and painless interaction with a dealership employee turned out to be uncomfortable and maddening. The employee was extremely pushy, attempting to use scare tactics to sell me additional warranties and insurance. I politely declined these numerous times, only to have my repeated “no, thanks” ignored and refuted with condescending comments. After begging over and over to simply sign my paperwork so I could leave, I managed to extract myself from this employee’s grip, feeling exhausted, annoyed, and disrespected to the point where I wondered why I was buying a car from these people in the first place. I was no longer excited and just wanted to leave and never come back. Not exactly a fairy tale ending to my car-buying experience.
I’m not alone in feeling this way; one customer in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) Consumer Perspective Online Community says of her car-buying experience:
Academic research shows that customers often remember how they felt at the end of their interaction with a brand more strongly than they recall other parts of their time with the brand. So, if you’re ending on a low note, your customers will be more likely to remember their entire experience with you as being negative. And leaving on a negative note can hurt loyalty and, ultimately, your revenue potential.

Using Forrester’s CX Index data, we find that auto customers who’ve had a positive emotional experience while buying or leasing a vehicle are over seven times more likely to recommend the dealership to others who are purchasing a vehicle (91% of those who’ve had a positive experience are likely to recommend, versus only 13% who’ve had a negative one). When it comes to recommending the dealership for vehicle service, those who’ve had a positive emotional experience while buying or leasing a vehicle are nearly 12 times more likely to recommend than those who’ve had a negative one — 85% versus 7%.

The moral of this story is to think about how you’re making customers feel, particularly at the end of your interactions with them. Aim to boost positive feelings, such as appreciation, respect, and confidence (loyalty-inducing emotions that Forrester finds in our CX Index automotive data) to improve your chances that customers will remember and talk about you in a positive light. How does your brand make customers feel? If you’re not sure, the CX Index team can help! Find out more about the CX Index here.