Let’s step outside the automotive industry for a moment and think about your last customer experience. Maybe you pre-ordered a Triple Venti Mocha at your favorite coffee chain and paid for it with your mobile device? Or maybe you received a push notification as you entered a Target parking lot? How many of you chose to take Uber over a Taxi on your last trip from the airport? What compelled you to make that decision? Unique customer experiences are popping up all over…and guess what, they are becoming more targeted and personalized than ever.
Since no two people are alike, neither should be their experiences, and that especially applies when purchasing a new car. Now, think about the last customer experience you had at a dealership (it could even be your own). What sales approach was taken in the F&I office? How does it measure up to your experience with Uber or Starbucks? More importantly, how did you feel after the sale? Creating the right experience at the right time is challenging, but it has become the essential factor when making a competitive impact on the next generation of car buyers.
By 2020, customer experience will be the deciding factor over price and product across all industries. We know that the majority of car buyers spend countless hours online researching types of vehicles and educating themselves on pricing before entering a brick and mortar store. We also know that improving a customer experience can lead to a 30-50% increase in products purchases. We have heard that the technology disruption is coming but the fact is, it is already here. We must evolve the car buying experience to match what is happening outside of the automotive industry now. The focus must shift from the dealer to the customer.
We need to start giving customers exactly what they want when purchasing their next vehicle: an end-to-end VIP experience, tailored specifically to their individualized car buying needs. This personalized experience allows customers to choose their vehicle, F&I products and financing online before they arrive at the dealership, know exactly what to expect while at the dealership and continue to receive excellent customer service after the sale to retain these customers and create even more revenue opportunities in the future.
During my session at the Digital Dealer 23 Conference & Expo, I will guide you through a step-by-step modern, expedited, VIP experience, starting with customers choosing financing and F&I products before they enter a dealership and how that should expedite their time while at the dealership. Additionally, I will address how every dealership should be using technology after the sale to continue to engage customers throughout the lifecycle of vehicle ownership. Creating this online channel dealerships will have opportunities to build more revenue through efficiency, customer satisfaction and retention.
Now that we have a satisfied customer, how do we continue to communicate and engage these customers in an interesting way? We believe that the sale of the vehicle is not the end of the relationship, but just the beginning. After the sale is when the real magic starts to happen. Dealers have access to the holy grail of car buying, but it is being under-utilized in a big way. We’re talking about data.
By embracing technology and data, dealers can completely customize communication to their customers. Forget about those vanity apps that do nothing more than list your inventory, we’re talking about apps that actually solve everyday pain points for your customers. What does my OEM recommend for factory maintenance? When will my warranty run out? What does this engine light mean? Dealers can help their customers become more confident, educated car owners. Giving customers the peace of mind that they will get into their car every morning, turn the key and drive to their destination is the type of customer service you can deliver through a feature-rich app. You absolutely cannot put a price tag on this type of experience. Dealers can continue to educate while incentivizing customers to return to a dealership for maintenance or even purchase or extend a warranty through an end-user focused app.
We are quickly approaching a critical cross road in our industry. Dealers must take advantage of every opportunity to get ahead. By adopting and embracing technology and taking complete control of your customers’ experience, you can ensure the success of your dealership in the new digital era.
Join me at Digital Dealer 23 for my workshop to learn how to create an F&I experience digitally that starts before the customer even comes into your store and transacts all the way through the purchase process.
Michael J. Reth, President and CEO of Axiom, has spent the last 22 years in the Automotive industry working in Automotive Retail, Insurance, F&I Product Development, Reinsurance and Technology. 17 years have been devoted to creating, building and managing risk based F&I protection and automotive benefit programs. He has also focused on technology and software development related to the F&I and Connected Car industry.