3 smart ways to connect with today’s automotive customer

Posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Social. Local. Mobile. These are the new battlegrounds for providing relevancy to today’s consumers. These technology-savvy consumers are changing the rules of commerce and shifting the balance of power in their favor when it comes to the relationships they have with brands and manufacturers. This trend is especially important for big ticket purchases such as automobiles.

Adoption of these technologies is expected to accelerate in coming years. Not only are consumers becoming more mobile, but we are becoming more social as well. Increasingly, consumers are turning to social media as their primary source for information on brands and products. Their next great dining experience, the hot new gadget, the next vehicle to transport the family — discussions on Twitter and Facebook are playing an increasingly influential role in the fate of retailers, auto dealers and brands.

In addition to this, when consumers are out shopping or walking a showroom floor they now have the power of the Internet in the palms of their hands with the latest smartphones. At their fingertips and in real-time, they can search for product ratings, reviews and more. Some mobile apps even provide price and discount comparisons. Add that to apps that are designed to generate local incentives or group discounts, and the experience consumers expect from brands has changed forever.

Although these consumers have newfound expectations of the experience they receive, some things remain the same. Despite these new expectations, they are still loyal to their favorite brands. However, how these brands earn and keep that loyalty must change.

To effectively adapt to social, local and mobile consumers, automotive brands need to provide them with a seamless and consistent experience across all these channels. In particular, the experiences that they deliver within their dealerships must be consistent with the quality of the experiences of the other channels AND reflect consumers’ values and expectations.

Local dealers are where the most important experiences will always happen. Consumers will rarely purchase a vehicle sight unseen, and usually expect a lot of hands on research– from test drives to visual inspections – before making a final purchase decision. It is because of this that dealerships should also be the focal point of any effective customer experience management (CEM) program. These dealer level programs can serve as an ideal starting point for delivering increasingly personalized experiences to SoLoMo consumers.

What are the three Ways to Connect with the Modern Consumer?

1. Unlock the power of smartphones. Self-service solutions that support dealer operations, including scheduling test drives and vehicle servicing; streamlined self-checkout, and post-experience communications to stay connected with potential buyers are just some of the ways that smartphones can improve the customer experience.

For consumers, smartphones have become their preferred channel for interacting with each other. It makes sense then, that when given the option they will also choose to interact with their favorite brands in the same way. Allowing them to provide feedback and share positive experiences through social media on their smartphone devices is a simple way to reinforce and increase the level of engagement that brands have with their most loyal customers. Ensuring that customer experience programs take these devices into account can be a simple update that can yield a tremendous return.

2. Start engaging with customers to capture feedback in the moment. The key for automotive brands, dealerships and even automotive ad agencies of record today is to connect with customers more regularly in an easy and meaningful way. One new technology that has emerged to make this easier is the QR code. They offer brands the potential to connect with customers in a real-time and immediate fashion.

QR codes are an extension of the online world into the physical world. The early usage of QR codes was as a tool to enhance the information available through advertising. For example, “Scan a QR code to get more information on a product by visiting the product website on your phone.”

3. Drive local action through social media advocacy. Automotive brands and dealerships today have an opportunity to change the way they approach how they market to and engage with customers — provided they are adequately prepared to do so!

According to a Neilson Global Trust in Advertising Survey Report issued in 2012, “92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word of mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.” For example, “Scan a QR code to get more information on a product by visiting the product website on your phone.”

The above is an excerpt from Empathica’s latest whitepaper entitled, “What is the Opportunity for “SoLoMo” (Social.Local.Mobile.) to Improve the Customer Service?” To learn more ways to connect with today’s SoLoMo consumer, download the full whitepaper.

Download Whitepaper

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