Just about everything we buy now has some sort of smart technology—and as soon as new products are created, safeguards must be put in place to protect consumers and their purchases. While we’re excited when new technology is introduced, we’re wary of those who wait on the sidelines and try to sneak their way in. When it comes to automotive, however, today’s consumers are protected by a progressive industry that continues to rise to the occasion when it comes to security, as well as in-vehicle innovations.
Consumers Want More Tech
The newest cars come equipped with incredible capabilities—including powerful computers that control things like automatic parallel parking and automatic brake application, allowing a vehicle to brake when an imminent crash is detected. Because of the importance of maintaining driver safety with these advanced features, automakers know that security during the development of these newest features cannot be an afterthought.
In addition to autonomous vehicle features, consumers also demand more connectivity between their smartphones and their vehicles. A recent AutoTrader study confirmed the importance of in-vehicle technology to consumers:
- 77% of those surveyed said tech features are more important than vehicle color.
- 65% said they would switch brands to get the tech they’re looking for.
- 39% prefer the navigation systems on their smartphones over those in their vehicles.
- 46% would pay up to $1,499 for an interactive dashboard.
- 57% want auto manufacturers to place more focus on integrating smartphones with all vehicles.
And all these things are happening. Automakers like BMW and Tesla are pushing the limits of technology to offer consumers everything they’re looking for in vehicle autonomy and connectivity—and others won’t be far behind. While focusing on all the latest technology, automakers continue to seek new ways to safeguard consumer information as they connect to their vehicles.
Most consumers know smartphones are vulnerable to attacks from hackers, but they may not think of the possibility of their vehicles being hacked once they connect. This concern is so real, in fact, that recently, the FBI and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made a joint Public Service Announcement to caution drivers regarding potential hacking situations and how to avoid them.
To date, well-intentioned hackers experimenting to determine the extent to which they could control autonomous and connected vehicles have successfully made attempts to take control of vehicles from outside devices, resulting in altered braking and turning patterns, as well as incidents of information gathering. This demonstrates the level of advanced manipulation that can occur when hackers access vehicles—and highlights exactly why automakers are so vigilant about safeguarding their latest innovations.
Your Dealership Can Help
Does this stop consumers from wanting these cars? Absolutely not. And that’s good for your bottom line. These are the cars of the future, and as more automakers develop and produce new models, your lot will fill with them. Today’s shoppers are savvy online researchers, but they’ll still have plenty of questions, and there are some things your dealership can do to ensure everyone is confident and informed.
Your customers will feel excited and prepared to drive the latest, most innovative cars off the lot when you take the following tips into consideration:
- Help customers prioritize. Determine which features are most important for your customers and move forward from there. Many shoppers are now prioritizing safety-related technology, such as collision warning or lane departure features, ahead of infotainment systems and other options, so it’s important to get to know individual shoppers and their vehicle needs before you begin to sell. A well-informed sales staff can easily outline the benefits of every feature, ensuring customers get exactly what they’re looking for.
- Help shoppers understand the vehicles. Because of changing vehicle capabilities, 57% of shoppers now believe they should spend at least 30 minutes inside cars they’re interested in buying to fully understand all their features. For your sales team, this means ensuring shoppers feel comfortable taking their time, test driving, and asking plenty of questions. Your team should be knowledgeable about the features and safeguards of every car; this way, they can help shoppers decide exactly what’s right for them.
- Help buyers get synced. Once cars are sold, go the extra mile and ensure your customers get all their devices synced. You’ll give them a better overall experience if you help them through the entire experience, rather than just handing them the instruction manuals and leaving them to figure things out on their own. Also, be sure to let customers know about safeguards that are in place to restrict access, protect their logons, or grant permissions to specific users. By helping protect them from potential safety breaches, you’ll be showing them their safety and overall satisfaction truly matter to you.
- Educate shoppers about third-party applications. Many consumers don’t realize it, but third-party applications pose one of the biggest risks for connected cars today. Because automakers have no control over them, aftermarket plug-ins are just one more channel hackers use to gain access to vehicle computer systems. By educating your customers, you’re helping protect them and their personal information. This is also a great time to reassure them that your in-house service and maintenance is the best route when it comes to ensuring their vehicles get the latest updates as they’re released.
For automotive professionals, one of the best moves you can make is to stay informed and educated about current and upcoming vehicle innovations. Your customers will want to know exactly what’s coming their way, and when you can educate them regarding technology—as well as safeguards—you’ll stand out as an industry leader. By staying up to date and sharing your knowledge, you’ll gain more customers, earn repeat business, and end up with advocates who share their positive dealership experiences with others. It’s a win-win!
Author: Joey Little
Joey Little serves as Director of Digital and Social Engagement for AutoAlert. An expert in customer experience management, he educates automotive professionals at speaking engagements across the country. With results-driven advice and proven industry knowledge, he assists dealerships in reaching their audiences and increasing business via their social platforms.