In 1896, the first independent automobile dealership opened in Detroit, Michigan, forever changing the automotive industry. After that, automobile franchises started appearing everywhere, mainstreaming car buying.
For the next 100-plus years, with the exception of early adapters, the automotive sales process and consumer behavior generally stayed the same, until now. Today, the sales process does not start with a visit to the dealership or even a phone call. It is a whole new race, and millennials are in the driver seat.
Millennials now make up almost a third of new car buyers. They do their research online, shop for the features they want, read the reviews, and use third-party sites to find the best price.
By the time they make contact with a dealer, they already know what they want and the price they are willing to pay. Today’s informed consumer will now buy from the dealership that makes this process as easy as possible, and technology can play an essential role in making that happen.
The experience millennials don’t want
Consider this personal example: My husband and I recently went through the car-buying process. We knew what we wanted—a pre-owned truck, four full doors, V8, etc.—and the price we were willing to pay.
As a millennial, I did my due diligence. Finally, I found a truck my husband was interested in: a green Ford F-150 located at a dealership on the other side of town.
One of the pictures showed a small body imperfection, so I called the dealership to ask about it. I was connected directly to a sales associate, who was more than happy to take my call.
I told him what truck I was interested in and that I had a question about something in the pictures. I was hoping that he would go out, look at the truck, and answer my very simple question while on the phone with me.
Instead of answering my question, the sales associate asked for my information and when I could schedule a visit. This was not the experience I was looking for, and instead of closing the sale that day, my buying process dragged on another week.
Technology enables a better sales experience
A positive experience is crucial to getting millennials to purchase from your dealership, and utilizing technology can significantly enhance the customer experience.
With the communication technology available to sales associates today, my question could have been easily answered with a touch of a button. By using a feature called twinning, he could have seamlessly transferred the call from his desk phone to his cell phone, and then walked out to the truck and answered my question.
Voicemail is another communication technology that has evolved in recent years. A millennial willing to leave a message with a dealership expects a prompt response.
With unified messaging, voicemail messages can now be forwarded to a user’s email address, thus decreasing the amount of time it takes to retrieve a message. When the voicemail shows up as an email with the caller ID information, it makes it much easier to check the message from a laptop or cell phone, and get back to the customer.
Service and technology
As any good business organization knows, retaining a customer is just as important as the initial sale, and millennials expect the same convenient, smooth experience when it comes to having their cars serviced. Letting customers schedule automotive service on their own terms is paramount.
Millennials’ first mode of contact is typically electronic in nature: email, chat, SMS text, etc. With modern contact center technology, a customer development center (CDC) or business development center (BDC) can queue voice, SMS, web chat, and email interactions for agents.
This queuing makes sure customers are taken care of quickly, efficiently, and in the manner they choose. Also, CDC/BDC managers can monitor their groups with real-time reporting.
For example, when a local news station runs a story about an airbag recall and calls come flooding in from worried customers, the CDC manager can see the increase in volume, and potentially pull in additional resources to help field those calls. Furthermore, dealerships can report on these interactions and quickly spot trends, which allows them to staff appropriately and set a business strategy.
With the demand for a better customer experience growing, manufacturers require increasingly detailed metrics on customer satisfaction. They want to know the number of interactions a dealership is having with customers, what category these interactions fall under (sales, service, etc.), and how quickly those interactions are handled. Technology that quickly reports on voice, email, SMS, and chat streamlines reporting for manufacturers.
Just as technology integration within the vehicle makes a driver’s life easier, technology is available to make your life in the dealership easier. You can give millennial customers the dealership experience they’re looking for at the same time you’re optimizing and growing your dealership’s business.
Keep in mind that millennials will be your buyers for the next 60-plus years, and the generations to follow will expect an even better, faster, more-enjoyable customer experience. Implementing technology that caters to this new demographic can improve your sales and service customer experience—now and into the future.
Lisa Gaut, technology sales specialist, has been with Tech Electronics since 2007. She provides clients across all industries with technology solutions to improve businesses communication.
Latest posts by Lisa Gaut
- Technology Gives Millennials the Buying Experience They Want - March 22, 2017