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Mastering the car buying experience in a digital world

Today on Inside Automotive, anchor Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Tim Mullins, National Sales Vice President at Capital One, to share his insight into the modern car buying process and how car dealers can win with their customers today.

The path to digitization has been clear for many years, says Mullins. However, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of digital spaces and compelled car dealers to accelerate their digital offerings. Today, many car dealers find that high-quality digital tools help customers during the car-buying journey. Capital One’s inaugural Car Buying Outlook report also revealed that dealers are leaning heavily into digitally savvy practices. 

“It’s all about aligning the right tools to the right problems you’re trying to solve,” explains Mullins.

Capital One helps car dealers optimize their digital interactions with customers through consistent research and platforms like Capital One Auto Navigator. This solution allows car shoppers to search for cars online, pre-qualify for financing, and see their actual payment calculated. This level of convenience and transparency gives consumers confidence.

When consumers buy a vehicle, the financing process is typically the most significant source of friction throughout the transaction. While customers are comfortable doing some transaction steps online, they frequently stop at the financing stage. Instead, they wait to discuss financing once they are at the car dealership. 

Car dealers can empower their customers to transact on their terms with high-quality digital tools. 

The current shortage of new vehicle inventory upended many dealers’ business strategies. In this time of uncertainty, says Mullins, car dealers need to remember that customers are looking to them to help solve a problem and help them find the right vehicle. This is a perfect opportunity for them to not only find that right vehicle for them, but gain a lifelong customer.

Car dealers need to invest in high-quality digital tools to assess their available inventory quickly to achieve this. Capital One believes that a personalized approach to customer experience positions the dealer as a trusted consultant. 

Capital One is committed to finding as much information about the modern car-buying journey as possible. The Car Buying Outlook, released in 2021, is a deeper examination of consumer and car dealership behavior. Capital One will release additional research in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to CBT News for more great insight.


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