The Personalized Customer Buying Experience in 2018

auto retail

Joe Gumm speaks with David Kain the Host of Kain & Co. about the personalized customer experience and changes to come in 2018 in one-to-one customer engagement in the auto retail industry.

What are some of the changes dealers should make when it comes to having a well-rounded customer buying experience?

“Well, I think going a little retro would be wonderful for a change. You’ll remember when we first started getting automated letters, and we would open it up and say, ‘What, the president wrote me a letter’?

And then everyone started doing the same thing and businesses became less personal.  And we started doing mass mailers, and that became the norm in the auto industry. Everybody got treated exactly the same whether they wanted a sedan, a dump truck, or a convertible.”

One-to-one Car Shopper Engagement

According to Kain, the industry is starting to see consumers in a one-to-one engagement environment that the auto retail industry has created. “Essentially, I can have an app for my own survey, I can have an app for my own shopping, I can have an app for everything I want. So, I can condition the way I shop to my own needs.”

Dealers who have responded to this demand with one-to-one interfaces for their customers are doing really well. Dealers who are doing one size fits all are really going to struggle in 2018.

“In 2018 it is time to get back to that personalization and that one-to-one training so that they understand it is all about the guest and their experience,” Kain says.

When it comes to Business Development Center (BDC) topics what have you seen from dealers in 2017 that you would fundamentally change going forward in 2018?

“I would say let’s start relying on one-to-one via video. Whether it’s a Skype type setup or leveraging the video or the vehicle. Few BDC teams do that themselves. But I would say use video in all of your communications. Additionally, use texting as a delivery mechanism,” Kain says.

Commercial emails to consumers typically only get opened at a 20 percent rate. Dealerships that rely wholly on emails to send to online car shoppers should consider sending them texts, so long as they have asked the consumer permission to do so. This is also a wonderful tool to deliver video. And texting gets opened at a rate of 78 percent greater opening rate than emails. Video and text are a great way to engage your customers.

There is a way to answer customer questions in a way that builds trust and demonstrates transparency while still being attractive.

“The key is we need to be less promotional and more attractive. And ultimately, we create better attraction by being honest with their guests and providing them the information they are looking for,” Kain says.

If you don’t provide the information car shoppers want and need then they will de-select you as a dealer. They want the price of the vehicle, they want to know how much their trade is worth, they want to talk to someone about leasing versus financing.

“If we can’t demonstrate an ability to provide that, then the customer is very easily going to shut us down. And we just can’t do it,” Kain says.

BDC Training and Customer Engagement in Service Area

Training is a matter of confidence and giving your team the attention they need on a regular basis. Kain says it is a great idea for the sales manager, general manager or GSM to sit down with the BDC agent and say show me what you do to show interest. By showing interest, they can then provide some of their own instinctive areas of expertise and portray that for the BDC agent. This builds a lot of confidence with the BDC agent and any of the managers in the dealership.

“Training is always ongoing activity in the dealership. Training doesn’t need to be driven by five hours in a classroom, it literally can be asserted by 30 minutes, 20 minutes, 10 minutes at the start of every workday.”

As far as being a proponent of using the BDC for service, Kain says he is for a few reasons.

“I am a big proponent. There are peak traffic times at the start of the day and around lunchtime when people are asking about the finish of their service and later in the day when they want to come pick it up. The BDC can alleviate that and provide that time for the counter clerk or service writer to engage one-to-one with the guests and provide one-to-one live advice and experience and the BDC can answer questions that come up to facilitate the appointment process.”

By working to free up capacity in the service area you will also increase customer satisfaction.