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Let's face it, we're all consumers. Even the highest-paid CEOs in the world have to do it: shop and buy. They will engage a brand, a retailer, a transaction with one expectation in mind: satisfaction. Whether a $4 latte or a $4,000,000 property, there is a process we go through to self-determine the investment of time, research and transaction as well as intended outcome. So if your only measurement is analytics or items sold, you're sorely missing a huge part of what is needed.
Go to the majority of automotive websites, mobile sites, social media and advertising. Ask the average consumer, let alone highly-compensated executive, and you are likely to get an answer you don't like. Why is that? For the most part, we've been buying solutions while being complacent in our happy place: doing what we know and not changing that one bit.
The first layer of measurement was the showroom floor and service drive. Sentiment was shared, while not always freely, in a controlled environment where the impact was mitigated to the most part. That gauge has moved, for the most part, into the most transparent of places: the Internet.
And that is a double-dose of pain. So how do we change what is commonly referred to as one of the least-desired activities (going to a car dealership) that is connected with one of the most accessible of engagements (going to the web)? For starters, do it yourself. Go through your website. As a consumer. Hard as it may be, do it. Take off the dealer hat and pretend you actually need to find something you want. Easily. Quickly. The same way you'd buy an airline ticket on www.yourfavoriteairlinewebsite.com.
Then visit your website on your mobile device. If you are one of more than half the car dealerships in the country, you'll likely see a thumb-sized version of your full website. Disappointed yet? Now hop over to your Blog, if you have one of the best places to build your brand and capture eyeballs online. Because based on your website response, you likely don't offer the image, message, layout and experience you'd like yourself.
Have Facebook and Twitter pages? If not, don't necessarily jump in but if you do, look. What are you saying? Are you just displaying inventory, a feed of random content from somewhere else? Is it representative of what you do your store? Is it, like your CRM, automated? Or is it genuine?
And what about reputation management? While some have embraced it for more than a year or two, the neccessary processes and engagement still don't exist for the most part. And don't get disappointed yourself when you don't have a strategy and are ticked off with what gets displayed online.
Some dealers are starting the next generation of their dealership with consumer engagement. And guess what?! That's perfect. What better input than the people dropping thousands of dollars at your business? Customer advisory boards. Meet the dealership events. Club meets and other non-transactional ways to engage and ask your customers.
The disappointment your customers experience comes from within. And if you don't have a plan to assess, measure, change and improve consistently, the numbers that matter most will go in the least desireable direction.
If you are one of the dealers heading to Las Vegas for Digital Dealer, DrivingSales Executive Summit and JD Power Internet Roundtable, take advantage of the wealth of knowledge. But don't do it simply to compare and buy yourself. Stop. Sit down with other dealers, consultants and outsiders. Take a deep look at what consumers see. Ask the tough questions. Then engage the reps and vendors.
Start delivering online what you say you do in your brick and mortar existence. It's your greatest opportunity.
Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results
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