Demand for autos has put dealers in the driver’s seat when deciding how to sell and service vehicles, but demand is beginning to slow. That deceleration combined with new automotive competitors, an increase in battery-electric vehicles, a shifting economy and customer demands for digital marketplaces means dealers and automakers must refine their virtual offerings now or prepare for painful revenue downturns.
The “Trends in Automotive Report,” the first such analysis by Salesforce, shows the industry as a whole has been slow to embrace these shifts. Less than one in five auto company respondents believe their digital storefronts are engaging, mobile-friendly and have accurate inventory data. And more than 79% of OEMs and retailers report customers have trouble accessing their personal account or service case through digital channels.
Similarly, 75% of captive finance companies report their customers have trouble accessing their personal account or current customer-service case online, over text or on the phone
“There has been so much change in the past two years, and one point is that you don’t actually have to (market to customers) because of the demand,” Achyut Jajoo, senior vice president and general manager-Manufacturing and Automotive at Salesforce, tells Wards. “But now that’s all changing, and if you don’t keep up, you’re dead on all fronts.”
To ensure continued success in sales and service, it’s vital to maintain transparency and offer streamlined virtual lending options. Research shows those are major pain points, with Salesforce data indicating 99% of customers are dissatisfied with the traditional auto-buying experience. In addition, dealers and OEMs should embrace new revenue models, including subscriptions and partnerships. Salesforce reports 68% of OEMs and 62% of retailers currently invest in applications such as Apple CarPlay.
First-party data collected from such applications, purchase and service histories and website interactions can help open revenue streams and provide more insight into what customers want from OEMs and dealerships. Analyzing such data allows dealerships to personalize offerings and increase customer retention, Salesforce reports.
“By harnessing the wealth of customer and vehicle insights from connected vehicles, automotive companies can deliver better offerings and personalized experiences at scale to improve the lifetime value of customer relationships,” Jajoo says. “It’s no surprise that the companies in this report agreed that it’s their best bet to improve customer service.”