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Boosting BEV sales: the power of app training for dealerships

To sell more BEVs, dealerships are discovering a crucial reality.

The automotive industry is in the throes of a significant shift towards battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), with mobile applications playing an increasingly instrumental role in the driving experience. However, dealerships must understand that high app usage does not necessarily mean high customer satisfaction. Therefore, let’s consider the pivotal role of app training in enhancing the customer experience and, in turn, driving BEV sales. 

The Importance of App Training for Dealerships 

To sell more BEVs, dealerships are discovering a crucial reality: usability trumps design when it comes to mobile applications. A compelling user interface is excellent, but what customers truly value is an intuitive experience that integrates seamlessly with their vehicle. 

This idea is supported by  J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. OEM EV App Report, which reveals that BEV owners prioritize speed and ease of navigation above all else in an app. Recognizing this is crucial for dealerships. By emphasizing app training for staff, dealerships can boost their teams’ confidence in demonstrating app features to customers and lay the foundation for superior customer service. 

Informed and experienced dealership teams can utilize this knowledge to enhance the customer experience, leading to increased satisfaction and BEV sales.  

Key findings of J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. OEM EV App Report 

J.D. Power’s recent report highlights the increasingly vital role of apps in the EV ownership experience. It demonstrates that 66% of EV owners use their brand’s app at least half the time they drive. However, despite this frequent usage, satisfaction with app features that are most important to EV owners is significantly low. This gap needs to be bridged by dealerships by focusing on areas critical to users.  

The report also underlines the influence of apps on purchase decisions, especially for Tesla owners, suggesting that dealerships can attract potential EV buyers by better communicating the benefits of their apps. 

Challenges faced by BEV owners

BEV owners encounter unique challenges related to app usage, including issues with app functionality, user interface, and integration with vehicle features. Over a third of EV owners reported having connection-related issues with their apps, hinting at potential strains on manufacturers’ app network capacities. Of course, dealers are at the mercy of OEM developers. However, pressuring the manufacturers to address these challenges can significantly enhance the overall customer experience and influence their perception of the brand and your dealership

The crucial role of app usability 

App usability is vital in addressing the challenges faced by BEV owners. Jason Norton, senior manager-global automotive consulting J.D. Power, recently told Ward’s Auto, “If I use my navigation system once and can’t figure it out, the likelihood of me returning to that technology is very low. If I can simply go to Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze from my phone and get the information I need quickly, what’s my incentive to use the technology I can’t understand?”   

Tesla, which ranks highest among manufacturers’ EV mobile apps according to J.D. Power’s report, offers an instructive example. Its focus on usability over visual appeal demonstrates how an intuitive user interface, seamless integration, and reliable functionality can transform a frustrating app experience into a satisfying one. 

Crafting an effective training approach for dealership staff and the need for a BEV “Genius”

Practice makes perfect – an adage that holds true for BEV app training. Encouraging dealership staff to use the apps daily enables them to understand customer experiences better. It allows them to witness the ease of navigation, experience the responsiveness, and encounter potential issues, and give them confidence and capability to guide customers. 

Beyond daily use, training should also be dynamic, interactive, and ongoing. Engage the staff in active sessions to explore app features, discuss their experiences, address challenges, and find solutions. And remember, as technology evolves swiftly, regular update sessions, refresher courses, and discussions about new app features will ensure your dealership staff stays informed and ready to assist customers. 

However, another step can help dealerships truly stand out: having a dedicated BEV ‘genius’ or app expert, akin to Apple’s Genius Bar. This go-to expert can drive customer expectations and ensure they receive the best possible app support.   

Without such an expert, customers may drift to other dealerships or switch to rival brands offering better support. A resident “genius” can foster trust and make the dealership the top choice for consumers. 

Coupling daily app usage with comprehensive, ongoing training and having a ‘BEV genius’ at hand can equip your dealership staff to provide top-notch customer service, enhancing overall customer satisfaction and sales. By embracing this strategy, dealerships can become expert tech whisperers in the rapidly growing BEV market. 

Driving towards the future of BEVs with enhanced app training 

The transition to battery-electric vehicles is well underway, and it’s time for dealerships to embrace the new reality. Mobile applications are more than just an accessory; they’re an integral part of the BEV ownership experience. If harnessed correctly, they can be powerful tools for boosting customer satisfaction and promoting sales. 

Training dealership staff effectively on these applications is crucial. Encourage daily use of the apps, create dynamic, ongoing training programs, and consider appointing a dedicated “BEV genius.” These strategies can help bridge the gap between app usage and customer satisfaction, turning potential challenges into opportunities. 

Remember, a well-informed and confident dealership team can use their app knowledge to enhance the customer experience. In this new landscape, dealerships that address their customers’ challenges and continuously adapt to technology’s pace will lead the pack. 

The road ahead for BEVs is exciting, and with the right approach to app usage and training, the journey can be even more rewarding for dealerships and customers alike. Dealerships, gear up! It’s time to drive the change in the BEV market.

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Steve Mitchell
Steve Mitchell
Steve Mitchell is a contributing writer and reporter for CBT News. He earned bachelor's degrees in Marketing and Television from the University of Texas in Austin and a Masters of Theology study from Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas. His passion for automobiles lead him to become a creative director for automotive marketing ad agency. Most recently, he was the manager of interactive marketing for Mitsubishi Motors, NA.

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