The dealership is the final stop on the purchase journey for an automotive customer but the experience usually begins in a third-party environment. Most customers aren’t willing to endure the long purchase process dealerships offer on the ground. A study by Cox Automotive found that dealerships scored a 46% satisfaction rate for how long the final purchase process takes.
“Despite billions spent by OEMs (brands) and dealers on modern showrooms, slick mobile apps, and armies of social media managers, the human element —the last mile of the customer experience—is keeping consumers away from dealerships and crippling the auto industry,” writes Lior Arussy, CEO of Strativity Group for Dealer Marketing Magazine.
Aligning the human workforce with the digital experience comes down to how the scores of customer data streaming in and out of dealership management systems are utilised and how ready sales teams are to use this to their advantage.
Dealerships have a lot on their plate, often one dealer is managing multiple car brands, leads can get lost in the ruckus. At times customers walk in unannounced and dealerships are ill-equipped to meet expectations.
Therefore the human element can be improved by auto brands both acknowledging the needs of an empowered customer and equipping their teams to handle multiple interactions. It’s not just about gut instinct and talent anymore, data is there to be used and the dealerships that fail to modernise will fall behind.
This is where a data-driven (pardon the pun) approach comes in handy. Here are a few ways to apply customer data to improve the dealership experience.
Gauging a potential buyer’s digital context is the first step to a more complete understanding. How did they get there? Was it a dealership group landing page, a PPC ad via Google or a banner ad on a news centre like the Guardian website. Round up the context with the product itself, i.e., the car make and features. When all this data is collected, the context is complete. Customers that call or arrive from online forums are the easiest to track with the right technology, walk-ins can also be recorded into the CRM using registration forms or geofencing.
Profile and segment
After data is organised into profiles, it can be segmented and prioritised. Say one particular caller is interested in a luxury model, they would be placed in a higher value segment due to their increased CPA (cost per acquisition). Prioritising these callers based on aspects such as; location and car brand helps dealerships utilise their time and expertise better, in addition to improving customer experience and pick up rates. This kind of process is important for dealerships that sell more than one car brand because callers are assigned to a specific salesperson who has extensive knowledge of a particular model.
Finally, data doesn’t have to be scary
For dealerships who are wary of the huge undertaking that comes with overhauling a legacy system, there is a silver lining. Integrations! These are useful because they are able to pass incoming data into an existing DMS (dealership management system) and make the process of change less jarring for auto brands and their vendors.