Mind the gap! – Customer experience will never age

Having a consistent, repeatable, customer experience is the nirvana. It is vital that the DMS is integrated to all parts of the car ownership cycle and the consumer’s life.

Customer journeys, touch points, moments of truth, interactions or whatever the latest term is used today all point to the same thing – great service matters. It always has. It always will.

CSI scores matter to dealers because they’ve played an increasing role in manufacturer standards and subsequent rewards. So much so that dealers are literally chasing customers out the door asking for their ‘scores’ or prompting for a 5 star rating at the service desk.

Customer experience – or CX if you work in marketing – is something that manufacturers and dealers are highly focused on. In my interactions with manufacturers and dealers the challenge is not imagining what the customer experience should be – it is executing on it. Having a consistent, repeatable, customer experience is the nirvana. All this in a highly variable, people reliant, dealer business, however, can be a tough ask.

In the Vehicle Sales department – there could be upwards of consumer 20 touch points with as many as 5 different people.  A similar challenge faces the Service department, so the goal is to provide a continuity of service.

There is a simple formula for CX: Customer service = Expected Service level minus Actual Service Delivery. Those that deliver great customer experience do these things really well:

  1. Design the journeys around the consumer needs and wants. “Can you just email the invoice…”
  2. Understand that it’s the little things that matter most – especially when not done well.  “I’ll send you a text as a reminder...”
  3. Recognise that in today’s IT dominated world, it’s a blend of People, Process and Technology working in harmony that can deliver a consistent, repeatable, customer experience
  4. Remember that cars are a high investment purchase. I heard this in a recent consumer group I attended, “Imagine spending £30k in Harvey Nichols… I would get rock star treatment”

Customer experience in the future

Let’s jump forward a decade. So great customer experience in 2025? Let’s go back to our formula one thing is certain there will be an increase in expectations of service levels. So the actual service level has to keep pace.

In 2025, your consumers will be digital natives. They will have grown up digital. They will want information curated to them as an individual. They’ll expect a concierge service. They will demand control. They will self-serve. They will be the assistant salesperson. That’s all assuming they want to buy a car rather than using mobility services or short term leasing.

By the middle of 2025, the retail network will have evolved. To accommodate 2025 consumer we’re likely to see a seamless blend of retail experiences. Digital, Physical, Virtual. You can imagine the future Vehicles Sales Department may be the demonstration car itself, of or some virtual reality experience, or dare I say it a traditional experience of today just, well, better.

Even today we are seeing a move to the self-serve world. Where the processes & technologies designed for the retailer is now being made available to the consumer. In 2025 the consumer may become their own salesperson, empowered with knowledge and able to utilise processes that are currently confined to the dealership.

As the reach and influence of a dealership’s DMS grows, it vital that it is integrated to all parts of the car ownership cycle and the consumer’s life, connected to cars and with a seamless flow of data.

Some things will remain consistent.  For as long as society seeks it, the consumer experience will still depend on human engagement and empathy.

As the proverb says, before you can understand someone you have to “Walk a mile in their shoes”.

The question is: who will define the journey-the consumer or the retailer?

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