“Marketing and customer experience are one and the same.”
We’ve all been there. You’re looking forward to going somewhere, you’ve checked out the costs, you’ve mapped your route, and you know what you want to do when you arrive.
With excitement and expectations building, the moment comes, and then whoosh. That “somewhere”—the experience—can be a total letdown. That happened to me while on vacation this summer . . . almost.
The place was the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. We heard good things about it, did our research, and decided to go. The center is a tourist destination at its best that is divided into seven areas, each representing a different Polynesian culture you can visit, like Hawaii or Tahiti.
When we got there, the first “culture” we stopped at was Fiji, and that’s when the big whoosh came. It appeared completely dead: Just a bunch of cheesy buildings, fake artifacts, and kiddy lawn games. I was mad, getting cranky, and ready to leave.
But my wife knows how to manage me, and convinced me to try one more culture—Samoa. There we walked into a show. It was funny, exciting—fire, songs, dancing, and coconut tree climbing—and interesting.
At the Fiji culture, because it wasn’t show time, we only got a fraction of the experience. But in Samoa and all the other areas after, it was great because we got the full experience.
It turns out getting the complete experience matters a lot, especially when buying a vehicle. For instance, according to a recent study from Beepi, 61% of respondents said they hate the shopping experience at a car dealership.
Why is that? Because there is a breakdown in creating and delivering a positive, holistic experience that is in line with the consumer’s expectations.
Based on an update of the “four P’s” of marketing called the “4 C’s,” experience—which is a form of marketing after all—is the combination of the consumer, cost, convenience, and communication.
Perhaps it’s obvious, but the customer is at the center with his or her needs, wants, and, of course, idiosyncrasies. Understanding the customer is critical to establishing trust and your ability to sell the right vehicle for them.
As the Beepi study revealed, lack of trust is a major concern among many consumers.
Cost is the actual dollars invested, but is also the time, effort, and emotion a consumer puts into making a purchase. Time alone is significant because it takes a consumer about 20 hours in total from starting vehicle-purchase research to driving away in a new vehicle.
So even before walking into your dealership, customers’ emotions are usually strong because of the amount of money involved and the time they’ve already invested.
Convenience is being where your customers are before, during, and after the sale. Call it multichannel, omni-channel, or just plain good service.
Convenience is being there for your customers.
Traditional marketing and advertising approaches are often considered controlling and one-way. Through promotion, a company tries to convince or, worse, trick consumers into buying something without really knowing what they need, want, or have the ability to pay for.
Communication is different because the aim is dialog and understanding, and doing so in a way that is comfortable for the customer.
Much of the communication in today’s world, especially early in the sales process, happens on mobile devices. Mobile done right can be the glue that binds those 4C’s together to make a compelling customer experience.
Done incompletely or not at all, mobile can have the opposite effect. A good mobile experience is comprised of three key elements:
- Content, the combination of the actual words and pictures on your mobile site, but also includes functionality.
- Usability, which brings together design, navigation, and ease of use.
- Interactivity, in this context, is the way the consumer can interact with you with forms, calculators, and selections.
The same elements can apply to your website and other channels, too, but mobile is special because of its prevalence and the small-screen real estate with which you have to work. With mobile, more than anywhere else, simplicity is critical.
The best examples of mobile don’t simply miniaturize, they optimize. Menus are streamlined to focus on intelligent placement of key functions like inventory search, appointment scheduling, credit application, or location.
Effective designs for interactivity use big buttons and drop-downs, and limit user inputs to the absolute minimum. They anticipate and deliver the experience the customer wants, and—like my wife did while we were on vacation—give that extra little helpful nudge.
What you do with mobile matters because, essentially, marketing and customer experience are one and the same.
Todd Mason is chief product and marketing officer (CPMO) for RouteOne, a joint venture created by Ally Financial, Ford Motor Credit, TD Auto Finance, and Toyota Financial Services. He is responsible for managing product conception, development, and strategy, as well as implementation of all marketing-related strategy and tactics for RouteOne.
Latest posts by Todd Mason
- 4 Steps to Disrupt With Trust, Not Technology - January 26, 2017
- Select Digital Disruptors That Keep Your Best Interests in Mind - November 10, 2016
- Satisfy the 4 C’s of Customer Experience With Mobile Marketing - September 27, 2016