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When looking at the future of the auto industry, specifically retail, it’s easy to get caught up in the “shiny objects” and focus on all the cool technology such as autonomous cars, ride-sharing, virtual reality sales, and all of the “disruptors” that are entering the space.
This can serve as a bit of a distraction and, as a result, many tend to stop thinking about the single most important thing in all of this: The Customer. Yes, some would argue that so-called disruptors are focusing on the customer – and these new technologies are certainly attempting to identify customer pain points.
But let’s stop for a minute and think about the commonality that exists in every disruptor -- they work hard to provide convenience, better customer interaction and engagement.
The future of the retail auto industry lies in the transformation of the customer experience in both sales and service. When interacting with your dealership, customers simply want the process to be easy, take less time and be more convenient for them, not for you.
Dealerships who learn this and adapt quickly will find that customers interact with them more often – and you certainly can’t sell or service a vehicle without interaction. It is vital to enable transactions through a channel of your customer’s choice. And those channels change dynamically depending on the reason for the interaction. For example, when scheduling service many customers just want to call in and make their appointment and get an email confirmation. When getting their vehicle serviced they would like text updates about vehicle status and want to receive their recommendation via email, so they can quickly review and approve. If it is a big repair, they probably want to call and talk to someone to get clarification.
There will always be tire-kickers, those who like to negotiate for hours at a dealership and even those who want a 100% online car-buying process. Each of those customers simply wants to interact in different ways and have it be their choice … not one you force on them.
When a customer wants to interact with you through a specific channel but you don’t offer it, what happens then? They will deal with you this one time, but will probably pick some other store that is “friendlier” the next time.
Due to the speed of technology development, our industry is in a transformative state. However, there will always be a need for interaction at some level. So don’t get lost in all the “shiny objects” as really it all boils down to is one thing: Customer interactions that promote convenience.