Automotive Sales has definitely changed in the past decade, but these past few months brought some quick pivots. Many of the changes are ones that were already underway for quite some time, but were pushed forward this year. And what we hoped would last a few weeks is now following us into 2021.
Personal space is now a desired commodity. Online/video relational sales have increased. In-person interactions have been rethought, and in some places highly discouraged. Automotive must learn how to effectively communicate with customers without relying on the full day spent in the showroom and without the ability to leverage face-to-face personal interactions with each transaction.
All of these adjustments made me think about how important the full customer engagement journey truly is. It is not just making sure phone numbers are routed correctly or that the first initial contact is done well. Customer Engagement is the way you increase your bottom line through the employment of an omni-channel approach with all customer interactions.
The Online Shopping Process
The customer is online shopping on various sites, looking at your inventory, well before they know they need ABC Motors. They just know they need a new car and that they need specific features. How are you engaging with that customer to let them know why ABC Motors is the best choice for their purchase? How are you communicating your specific value propositions and leveraging your brand to show the customer why they need to make their 1.2 dealership visit to you?
Time online has increased exponentially since March, and people are going to social platforms and YouTube at increased rates. 92% of in-market shoppers look to YouTube for information, walk-around videos, test drive videos, etc. before making their purchase. Are you there providing the original content they are looking for?
Engagement can take on a lot of different looks--it can look like a video call with a customer. It can look like text messages. It can look like providing the information people are looking for via YouTube videos or Facebook playlists. How are you engaging in times where face-to-face is not as prevalent as it once was?
When Technology Is Not Enough
Each interaction with a customer is valuable. Whether with a chat bot, an automated email, or any form of AI-- these tell the customer exactly what they should expect from you. What are you saying when all of your first touches with customers are automated? Consumers have come to expect a level of service, and if you don’t provide that personalized engagement, someone else will.
In our current environment, we saw what happens when a global change occurs and algorithms can’t keep up. AI algorithms were in place for specific scenarios, and they work the majority of the time. But when the message must change dramatically and pivot on a dime, they are not equipped to adapt.
That is why you need people to aid, assist, and enhance technology. Technology alone is not the answer, but a platform. Conversational tech needs people to perform, to reach and engage customers well, and to provide that white-glove experience we all want to give our customers.
Back to the Beginning
Engagement is the new commodity, and the dealership who knows how to use technology WITH the best trained automotive agents will win. Selling is relational. People buy from people they like. Communication builds that relationship. How are you ensuring that not one single customer is ignored or not engaged in conversation with a live person before they jump to the next website or next dealership?
- Put in a lead after hours and follow the conversation path. Who responds first. Do they answer your questions? Is it a bot, or a real person?
- Did you think the experience was a solid customer experience? If yes, GREAT! If no, where did the chain of communication break?
- If you need any assistance with this exercise, or are looking for someone to help with omni-channel customer engagement, reach out to BCP. We are the leaders in engagement and would love to help.