Cars became one of the basic needs of humanity since recent century. Cars changed, consumers changed but our dealer experience hasn't been chanced in the same way. Major cars brands now trying to implement new technologies to improve car consumers' showroom experience. Because experience is the key for success of automotive brands.
Let's see what has been change significantly in recent years:
First of all, like in all other industries, we have more touch points with our customers in online and offline. If we divide purchasing path into two segments, one of is getting information, the other is decision. Previously, information phase was happening offline. With the increased usage of Internet and digital marketing, today most of the information phase done in online. 90% of potential buyers look information about their pre-set brands online before going to car showrooms. This means, our customer is coming to our showrooms very well informed about our cars. This brings challenge for showroom staff to be even more trained about the car specs. Not only the brands they try to sell, but also about the competitors. Because your potential customer is standing in front of you with all this information. If you harm consumer's confidence with lack of information, it will make selling much more difficult. As the consumer comes with information-ready, this caused big decrease in showroom visits done before purchase. Different researches show, there is 50 to 80% decrease in the number of visits. They spend 41% of their dedicated time for dealer visit while they spend the rest 59% for research. They expect more specific and very detailed info in dealers. BMW recently introduced BMW Genius concept who is a dedicated person for giving very detailed and specific information. My only concern is dividing consumer experience in the showroom will cut consumer experience and make relationship establishment harder which is very critical for premium and luxury car sales.
This decreased number of visits and time force automotive brands to give even much more developed consumer experience in their showrooms. Because;
Showroom experience and test-drive are still the most important 2 factors in decision phase with 79% importance.
Most of the car brands give very similar dealer and test drive experience to their customers independent from their positioning. This is mostly because of the sales teams are not really understanding the need of premium customers. I think, automotive dealers have the least gap in terms of service between mass and premium segment. Premium welcome and emotional parts are usually neglected. They start talking about and focusing price even selling a luxury car. They cut your seamless-should-be experience in different ways and many more. Human factor spoils all standardized processes done until you convince the customer get into your showroom.
This is not only with sales, we should keep in mind that after-sales is also very important to benefit from consumers' lifetime value and to establish loyalty with the brand. Lifetime value of a customer in automotive industry is tens of times more than other segments. That's why luxury/ premium car segment ranks number 1 place with 405 B€ in luxury sales. If you don't please your customer through their journey with your vehicle, you won't be able to benefit from their lifetime value. Lexus, Japanese Luxury brand usually ranks top place in consumer satisfaction researches. They say; "We try to treat our customers like a guest in our houses."
Nobody buys a premium car fro going from point A to point B and for its function. Sometimes the reason is status, sometimes safety, sometimes ego, and sometimes another way of saying "I am successful in life." but not a function. That's why consumer experience and the committed message of your brand should be delivered seamlessly and without any interruption to your customers.
After observing all these changes and developments in the industry, as a former car industry and luxury retail professional, we are working on different programs specially for car industry to develop consumer experience in different touch points and train dealer staff according to expectation of premium/ luxury consumer. Contact us if you need any support to increase the level of your consumer experience and satisfaction...