The Internet has done a lot more than put new colour options and floor mat prices online for your customers to see. It's put a whole new focus on the customer experience.
Today's car shopper is simply more empowered. They have less patience for old-fashioned sheepskin coats and sales tactics; they expect (and demand) a seamless experience that anticipates and responds to their needs at each step of the purchase cycle.
That doesn’t mean customers are ready to bypass the traditional dance at the dealership. They still want to visit the showroom, meet the team, take a test drive and thrill to that new-car aroma. In fact, they want more than ever to be treated like the king and queen of the prom as they finally lay eyes on the car they've been reading about online.
It's up to you, the dealer, to make sure that your digital and traditional strategies blend smoothly ― ‘from clicks to bricks’ ― to give them a winning feeling.
Today your customer's journey starts with the smartphone… and the laptop… and the tablet. The average car shopper now hits 26 different types of touch points across multiple devices before they buy, according to Google.
When these shoppers waltz into your showroom, they expect you to pick up on and carry through all they've done digitally so far, while adding the personal touch that only you can.
So be ready to greet them, tablet or smartphone in hand, with all the information you have about their journey so far. If this is a dance, what better way to show customers you care than to get out from behind your desk and onto the ‘dance floor’ with them?
Untethered from the desk, you can move and talk freely as you chat, offer details and build that crucial relationship with them. The personal elements of car salesmanship – your charm, integrity and expertise – can take centre stage.
75% of car buyers still choose to take a car for a test drive, according to Google studies. It's a bedrock moment, a moment where you can build trust, show you have their best interests at heart… and close the sale.
After all, buying a car is still a huge deal for most people. The nerves and giddy excitement are just as strong as they they were at their first big dance, whether that dance was a disco or the Nae Nae. Show them you understand their excitement, respect their investment of research time, and you'll be ready to be the capstone of their experience.
Of course, buying the car is only your first dance with this customer. It continues with the customer service you give them in service and aftersales. Digitally-savvy customers (and in this era of Millennials and Generation Z, that means a lot of people) will be delighted when you offer them online booking tools for servicing and MOT’s.
When they arrive for service, use the vehicle check-in process to remind them how familiar you are with their vehicle and their history with your team. Grab a mobile service tablet and greet them at the car; like the royal veterinarian treating a beloved corgi, you can discuss the issues as you look over the ‘patient.’
For the customer, this kind of personal treatment makes the check-in experience both simpler and happier. And for you, it lets your team understand the customers and identify upsell opportunities as you get a closer look at car and owner together.
As long as we have cars, dealers will play their critical role. 95% of customers still visit a dealership either during their research or purchase phases, according to research by CapGemini. The dealership visit had a 'significant influence' on the buying decisions of more people in a recent Accenture study than digital channels like automotive websites and social media.
And as long as the dance begins with digital, customer expectations will keep rising. Those expectations offer the biggest opportunity of all. The dealers and OEMs who can blend clicks and bricks ― provide the personal and interactive journey that customers love ― will certainly see happier dance partners and higher sales.