We live in exciting, crazy times--and these times have drastically changed the way we sell and service cars. I was in High School in the early 90’s, still using a typewriter, and taking notes with pen and paper. Cell phones were just becoming more common, and the first text was sent in 1992. Today there will be 36 billion texts sent worldwide. In just a little over 20 years, this technology has literally exploded and dramatically shifted the way we communicate.
Things have changed.
And the automotive industry has been greatly affected by these changes.
According to an article in Strategy&, just a decade ago electronics and technology accounted for less than 20% of total costs spent in the industry. Today, it is at least 35% or higher, and 90% of all new features deal with technology--more specifically telematics. It is easy to assume much of what we do will be digitized, automated, and technologically enhanced. There are new tools created every day which help with many of our activities that can be digitized. CRMs, Appointment Tools, and Communication Tools all make our lives easier and give us more time to focus on the customer. But do we maximize the time we spend with each customer?
One thing I have found is that we put more focus on the technology and less on the interaction we have with our customers. We have become so reliant on technology, and trying to master the it, that we forget the advantages that humans have over it: Relational Experience. We send a quick, automated email and think that is a solid point of contact. We have technologies that scan our leads and send specific, prepopulated mailings and emails, and we are proud. The major outcome, if you do not follow up with a live person, is white noise.
So, how do we get away from white noise and become relevant to our customers? How can we integrate these fast paced technological changes with the relational aspect we know to be effective?
Use Your BDC to Bridge the Gap:
You need technology to organize your customers, phone calls, emails, and contacts.
Without these, you would be inefficient. But what you do after the technology is key. Your BDC should be the experts in regards to the customer experience. Make sure that they are. They are not a call center--they are the voice and face of your dealership until the customer gets on lot.
Perfect the First Touch:
Whether this is a technological first touch or a human one, the first contact with the customer is the most important. First impressions are hard to wipe away, so make sure it is a positive, beneficial one. If it is a technological first touch, I would suggest having someone review it, check for personalization, and ask questions. No one wants an autoresponder--it wastes everyone’s time with information you can easily get or already have.
The customer wants to know that you are invested in them. That relational aspect is what will set you apart in this highly technologically driven world. Whenever you can, be specific and let the customer know the email was crafted specifically for them. And when you call, make sure to use the customer’s name and take note of specific things he/she shares. I was looking for a car and I mentioned that my son would be the primary driver. When the BDC rep called back, she mentioned that. It was a small effort that paid out huge results.
There are many things in our lives that can be automated and have efficient results. Relationships are not one of them. When you integrate all of your tools with excellent customer service, you will beat the competition.
Aimi Gundersen is an Automotive Lead Specialists, Blogger, Speaker, Educator, and a Project Manager for BetterCarPeople. Aimi has her masters in communications and her doctorate in Higher Education and Adult Learning. Her life is dedicated to making people smarter, stronger, and more efficient in any capacity of work. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.