Buying a car is quite different from buying a dress or deciding which restaurant to visit tonight. A car is a big ticket product. The buying decision requires some pondering and a thorough research. This seems like an unnerving task. Starting off with the pre-purchase research, comparison, dealership visits, loans, the condition of the car (in case of used cars), insurance and many such things. According to a study by J.D. Power, automotive shoppers spent an average of 14 hours researching cars online — visiting dealership sites, reading reviews, making price comparisons, using online shopping tools — before making a purchase decision.
One cannot lose sight of the changing demographics and customer expectations. Buying a vehicle is no longer just about a means to commute from one place to another. Today’s customer is looking for an end-to-end experience. Thus, to stand out, the auto manufacturers and dealers need to shift their focus from product to customer experience.
Creating Amazing Experiences Throughout Buyer’s Journey
The aim of the automakers should be to help the customers and not just sell. We need to acknowledge that when it comes to vehicles, customers tend to be skeptical. The auto industry relies majorly on building trust. The customer will buy only when they trust you. Here are some ways to build that trust:
- Be a guide, not a salesperson: Create awareness about the products that are best suited to the customer’s requirements. Be sincere while explaining the pros and cons rather than chest-thumping about your own product.
- Support Your Claim: Back your claims with some resources. Share product reviews, testimonials, demos and buyer manual, etc. Enable the customer to make an educated decision.
- Avoid Industry Jargons: While dealing with the customers, speak their language. Don’t use industry terms to make the customers feel uneducated and confused. Use simple terms to spread the message, across different channels of communication.
- Don’t Misguide: Never deceive the customers. Deliver what you promise. Any incorrect or exaggerated statement can backfire. In the digital age, customers can verify the claims easily. Thus, back your claims with statistics and facts.
It is human nature to be a bit skeptical when making a big investment, like, purchasing a car. People want to be 100 percent sure and thus, do in-depth analysis. They browse the internet, consult their friends and family and go through various online forums to read the reviews. This is a great opportunity for automotive brands to connect with the customers and get as much insight as possible.
The automotive brands are still lacking in taking full advantage of this information. Chances are, a customer uses 2-3 models of a particular brand before switching to some other maker. If dealt with properly, this information can lead to high revenue growth along with brand loyalty.
1. Capture the Voice of Customer
Understanding the prospects and customers should not be a guess-work. The automakers can’t sit in their comfortable offices and make decisions based solely on their gut feeling. Today, we have plenty of channels to know what the customer wants. There is only so much an automobile manufacturer can do after the vehicle is sold. Thus, it is important to track and listen to the voice of the customer at all the stages.With the right technology, one can map the digital footprint that prospects leave behind while using various platforms such as social media posts, online review sites, emails, feedback forms, etc.
2. Cloud Hosted Intelligence
Use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the automotive industry has emerged as a recent trend. The most common or talked about application of the AI technology has been the driverless cars. But, it is not limited to that only. Deploying AI technology with cloud computing offers some amazing advantages in the automotive field. When the companies are vying to develop cutting-edge automotive technology, cloud-based platforms will work well as a support system.
AI technology is also beneficial for the drivers. For instance, locating nearest gas station and making the payment from inside the vehicle, reminder solution embedded in the driver interface to buy groceries while crossing a store, etc. are a few examples.
3. Cross-Channel Management of Customer Touchpoints
Buyers go through many touch points throughout their journey. These touch points are the “moments of truth” are an opportunity to engage the customers and build lasting relationships. With the world going phygital i.e. a combination of the physical and digital world, the dealerships and automotive manufacturers need to ensure a seamless transformation for the customer across channels. For example, providing a customized simulated view of the car to the customer and then delivering the actual vehicle with all the customization. The customer gets a feel of the car, even before making the purchase. This leads to higher sales with better customer satisfaction along with the reduced cost for the company and dealers.
There needs to be efficient data sharing and integration between the OEMs and dealerships to provide a 360-degree customer experience. Unless that is done, we cannot expect to deliver excellent CX.
4. Continuous Customer Engagement
Successful automakers and dealerships are the ones who continue to work towards customer engagement even after the sale is done. Having a customer-first approach will be the first step in that direction. Connected cars provide a wealth of information about the ownership experience such as vehicle health, driving behavior, and journey experience, etc. This data will empower the automakers and dealers to personalize the customer experience when offering add-on services or at the time of future purchases. Besides, now we have many mobile apps to get even more visibility into the customer experience.
Integrating the information from all the touchpoints across the buyer’s journey will provide valuable insight to the automakers who are striving to further enrich the experience of the customer to improve repeat purchase and brand loyalty.
5. Delight Your Customers After Sales Support
The responsibility of the brand does not end with the purchase. For a long-lasting and happy relationship between the customers and the company, it is important to ensure great after-sales experience too. Whether it’s reminding about upcoming service, offer or helping them with locating the nearby service center – the experience has to be seamless. One such example is integrating Google’s Business Messages into your omnichannel customer engagement strategy. With this, you can provide additional convenience to the customers to reach you using Google maps or a simple Google search. Google’s business messaging tool is a great way to expedite your customer support and offer happy experience.
It’s a Long Ride Ahead
It is only recently that the automotive industry has started acknowledging the importance of customer experience that too in an omnichannel world. But, if the automakers want a genuine shot at success, they need to take the omnichannel route. The conventional dealership approach is not going to work with the Millennials. It’s time to have connected customer interactions across the channels to offer a holistic experience for the customers.