The automotive market demands a high-touch shopping experience. Vehicle sales include a level of complexity that makes some form of assistance to a buyer a necessity. Gone, however, are the days when car searches took place primarily in dealerships. Today, 90% of car sales start online, and, according to the 2013 Cisco Customer Experience Report, 55% of shoppers would be comfortable using virtual technology like video chat to interact with a car dealership – from initial browsing right through to purchasing the car.
Dealers need to adapt to changing consumer shopping behaviors and preferences in order to move online shoppers through each stage of the buying process, from awareness and interest through to desire and action, just as they would inside the dealership. Making the most of the moment when a consumer is on your website is vitally important today since many of those online visitors will never end up physically visiting your dealership.
One way to do this is to bring the in-store shopping experience to the digital storefront. The online customer experience needs to be enhanced beyond just car models, dealership locations and office hours. It must be more dynamic to meet today’s consumers’ ever-increasing expectations and extend the same kind of customer service to people browsing the website as they’d expect if they came into the dealership.
Access to Experts
Bring the benefits of offline online by providing web visitors with the same access to expertise they’d have within the dealership. Go beyond typical website content by offering real-time access to sales associates. For instance, rules-based technology can prompt a live session with an expert when a customer is showing sustained interest in a particular model or vehicle type like an electric car. Enabling a customer to connect with a specialist, via text chat, video chat, or a call back, can ensure that their questions and concerns are addressed quickly, eliminating worries like “Where can I charge my electric vehicle?” These issues that were obstructing the customer from taking the next step can now be overcome in moments. This kind of service, already being used by brands like Jaguar Land Rover, Audi, and Lexus, helps prevent customers from leaving the dealer’s website to seek the information elsewhere and moves them more quickly along the purchase funnel.
Real-Time Financial Advice
Financial concerns are another common sales delayer. Providing real-time access to an online adviser, who can address specific financial concerns when customers need it, eliminates another major barrier to closing a sale.
Reassurance is a considerable factor in car purchasing. Since it’s a large investment, customers need to know that they’re making the right decision. Offering co-browsing technology, which allows a salesperson to journey through the website with a consumer, answering questions and addressing concerns along the way, reassures the potential buyer that they’re making the right decision, both with the vehicle and also with the selected dealer.
While websites typically have low conversion rates, dealers with a more direct approach can extend their brand value and help move customers along their path to purchase. Not only do these steps extend an increased level of customer service, they also provide dealers with greater sales and higher levels of customer satisfaction, which can serve as a major differentiator.
Andy Henshaw is the founder and chief innovation officer of Vee24.