The modern customer experience goes well beyond in-person interaction.
Considering there is an up-and-coming generation of car buyers who were basically co-raised by technology (Gen Z, sometimes called digital natives!), a new avenue other than walking through the front door needs to be considered to meet these unique customer expectations.
Additionally, because of the pandemic, many people started seeing the convenience and viability of interacting with businesses by way of online communication.
Bolster Your Digital Dealership Customer Experience
Of course, this means offering a digital option. The key word there is "option." Customers love choice, and having the ability to do something different. Even if they won't necessarily do that thing, they are passively comforted by the fact that they could do that thing!
The most exceptional customer experiences are those that give the customer more freedom to decide their own path, and choose their next steps based on what is best for their situation!
Customer experience design firm, Tallwave, released a 2021 Data-Driven Insights Into Evolving Customer Experience Report, which goes on to say:
"Hybrid Experiences Are More Important Than Ever...
More than half of respondents said they want to return to in-person experiences once COVID-19 is over. This highlights a need to bring brick & mortars to connect in-person with digital experiences in stores to offer one cohesive, seamless experience that empowers customer engagement, value realization, and increased brand affinity..." (Source: Agility PR Solutions)
A Stellar Customer Experience is a Hybrid One
The rise of the digital age means that customers expect a seamless and personalized experience, even when shopping for a car. The vehicle buying experience is certainly not a simple snap-decision purchase, a la Amazon.
But, it's becoming increasingly important to an ever-changing world with a reliance on technology to universalize an easy digital shopping experience when shopping online.
Carvana comes to mind.
They almost went too far in the other direction with their entire process, however, and didn't consider what else the customers might need to go alongside their vehicle moving forward. Dealerships very often offer their own service and repair center. Carvana cannot say that they offer that!
Not to mention, ending the car buying process in person gives the customer hands-on assurance, and avoids a lot of back-and-forth during a very complex process!
Carvana Did At Least ONE Thing Right...
Carvana, however, did succeed in shaking up the automotive industry and shining a flashlight on what people think about the dealership experience, and what it ought to include and offer shoppers on their unique customer journey.
Let's focus on the top 5 things that we believe a modern dealership customer experience should have, with a focus on what to offer digitally.
Get a notepad; it's time to make a checklist!
5 Dealership Customer Experience Offerings in The Digital Age
Customers should feel like they are getting individual attention; even in the digital world. Consider investing in digital tools that allow for personalization, such as an online live chat platform that can answer customer questions in real time, share a customer's excitement in buying a car, or allay any concerns they might have before moving forward with your car dealership.
Customers require personalization. Delivering a personal, dynamic response that showcases empathy and reliability, or restating back what the customer asked for, is enough to assure a customer in knowing that they are being helped by someone real.
Customers want to know exactly what they are getting when they make a purchase, and dealerships should be upfront about all the information: from pricing to financing option (within reason, of course). In the digital world, this means providing easy-to-find and easy-to-understand information on the dealership's website, including pricing calculators, financing options, and detailed descriptions of each car in stock.
One way a dealership can do this is by using a trusted digital retailing tool. There are so many to choose from, and ActivEngage partners with quite a few of them! We also offer human guidance alongside those automotive digital retailing platforms.
Sometimes, customers get frustrated into quitting the financing process during their buyer's journey. Transparent information given through the DR tool, plus human advocacy, equals more deals done confidently!
Customers are busy, and they don't want to spend hours at a dealership. We are in an era of grocery delivery, same-day Amazon, and instantaneous communication. While getting a customer into your finance office is the goal, the time to be more digitally flexible is now.
This includes online financing applications, digital signatures for paperwork, and even virtual test drives.
Giving the customer a sliding scale on the level of engagement they have to have with the dealership pre-sale can be a huge boon. Having their time respected is super important, and can help keep you top of mind and primed for future sales.
Customers want to feel excited about their purchase, and dealerships should help make that happen. This could mean offering virtual tours of the dealership or creating engaging video content that showcases the latest models. Dealerships could also create interactive quizzes or games that help customers find the perfect car for their needs. Consider all possible customer touchpoints, and meet them where they are!
You might also consider upping your social media game or starting a TikTok account for your dealership. With over 1 billion monthly users, creating fun car-buying-focused content on the TikTok platform is a potentially viral way to engage customers in your community.
Customers expect quick responses to their inquiries, whether they are made via phone, email, social media, or chat/online messaging. Dealerships should invest in digital tools that allow for fast and efficient communication. This will not only help customers feel valued but also help the dealership build a strong reputation for excellent customer service.
This also goes for responding to online reviews. Timely, tailored responses to online reviews show proactivity and real care in resolving customer issues. Your online reputation is your overall reputation. A generic response, a month later, is possibly worse than not responding at all. You can review optimal dealership review response principles in this blog.
Meet and Exceed Customer Expectations, Increase Customer Loyalty
A modern dealership customer experience should be personalized, transparent, convenient, engaging, and responsive. By focusing on these key areas and leveraging the latest digital tools, dealerships can provide a customer experience that stands out from the competition.
So, whether you're a car buyer or a dealership owner, it's time to embrace the digital age and take your customer experience to the next level!
Deliver an Exceptional Dealership Customer Experience with ActivEngage
ActivEngage is the perfect ally for the modern car dealership looking to deliver a modern dealership customer experience!
We're experts at meeting customers where they are on their customer experience journey, and priming your sales team with robust, informational leads that set them up for success.
Start having better conversations today and meet your shoppers wherever they are in their customer journey with our messaging solutions. Choose from: