In 2018, we created 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. Don’t know how much that is? No worries. Just know it’s a lot and the pace continues to increase.
That’s not the only thing causing whiplash for dealers. With rising customer expectations, dealerships are lagging behind. And it’s not your fault. Automotive technology just hasn’t kept up with consumer behaviors.
Up until recently, the automotive customer journey had remained relatively unchanged over the span of its 100-year existence.
Automakers and dealerships had, for the most part, paved the way for consumers to buy cars. First, in order to sell more cars, Ford’s affordability made cars accessible to most Americans. Then “Planned Obsolescence” kept customers coming back for the latest model. It was safety and social concerns that later drove customers to dealerships, looking for increasingly safer and more environmentally friendly and efficient cars.
Car shoppers turned to the dealership to research pricing and vehicle details. Now, they pretty much know what they want down to the type of leather on the steering wheel. What they expect from you is a memorable, even amazing, customer experience every time. This requires personalization, efficiency, transparency, relevant recommendations, and – the pièce de résistance – the human element.
Today, the deluge of information available is putting customers in the driver’s seat to steer their own journey. The industry is responding by meeting customers where they are and by predicting where they want to go next.
Simply put, successful dealerships are making the most of how their customers shop rather than just focusing on what they’re shopping for. They’re consistently meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
Customers already armed with information are coming to you today because of your relationship with them, a recommendation from a friend, or because they want your advice or help.
All of these tie back to your brand and how you communicate with current and conquest customers. Your CRM did a good job of helping you follow up with customers, but it doesn’t cut it today. People expect a relevant reason for a text, an email, or any communication. A boring “happy birthday” isn’t it.
Rather than selling to customers, give them recommendations. Even better, talk to them about real offers you know they’ll like. This is where knowing how customers are shopping online pays off. The right software will collect relevant online behavior data and intelligently analyze it so you can understand what and when your customers will buy. Data and communication tools found in customer experience management solutions can even help deliver these engaging messages and offers. They empower you to impact the customer journey.
Predicting behavior and reaching out with relevant communications reduces the amount of time consumers need to spend researching online. It leverages the work they’ve already done to get them to the point of purchase. All in the hopes of keeping paperwork to a minimum and eliminating a huge customer turn-off: haggling.
In other words, it makes the buying experience interactive, customized, and quick!
Even if your customer doesn’t buy from you today, this month, or even this year, they will feel known by your team. Something as simple as reminding a customer that their warranty is almost up and offering up a car at the same payment plants the seed in their journey that you are looking out for them. Customers today want to do business with forward-thinking companies.
Keep in mind that you can’t be customer-centric without being employee-centric. Happy employees make customers happy. Hire for passion, the desire to help, and the hunger to grow. Train your people to be experts and do regular performance reviews. Building employees’ careers will reduce turnover, making it easier for customers to rely on your dealership for consistently amazing service.
When your team knows, or can predict, what your customers want, they’ll approach every conversation confidently. And those conversations are going to be better. Not just because they’re relevant, but because there’s no sales push. They simply provide relevant information and further opportunities.
This also gives your employees the chance to get back to asking about the customer’s recent travel adventures, kids’ soccer games, or whatever it is the customer feels like talking about.
Don’t be intimidated by high customer expectations. You just need technology designed to meet customers where they are and predict where they’re headed. This will turn each interaction into an amazing experience.
So, start with capitalizing on customer data by turning it into relevant info or new opportunities for customers. Then, bring them back to your store and continue to wow them with personalization, speed, and “no pressure” conversations. Every single time.
Is 2020 your year to take car-buying to the next level for consumers?