Automotive dealers, lenders and technology companies not only look at the industry differently today, but they also look at customers differently.
Today they want to find ways for the customer to be even more educated than they were in the past – before the customer walks into a dealership. They are realizing an educated customer with the right information is further down the funnel and closer to the sale.
This process is more than just building features on a website or having gourmet coffee options and a putting green at the dealership. When we think about creating the right customer experience or journey, the research, shopping and transaction process must be a significant part of the equation.
A recent survey commissioned with the help of Jabian Consulting confirms dealers and finance companies realize more consumer education, access to data and faster processes will enhance the vehicle-shopping journey.
As a result of this new knowledge, both franchise and independent dealers want the power to learn consumer behaviors by engaging earlier in the process, especially online, and also leverage consumer information and habits to help drive a successful transaction.
Similarly, dealers and finance companies today are looking to engage with a customer before they walk into a showroom by leveraging more targeted marketing in a cost-effective manner to better match customers with vehicles during the research process. This ensures the right inventory when the customer arrives at the dealership.
This earlier insight into the customer before the transaction phase will result in more confidence for the consumer as they get deeper in.
Dealers recognize the importance here as well. They realize a customer educated earlier on in the process enters the showroom in a less adversarial frame of mind and with fewer negative perceptions and less inaccurate information.
Recent Advances in Digital Customer Journeys
The study is one viewpoint following several advances recently throughout the automotive industry by dealers and lenders.
The available amount of intelligence, data and analytics continues to evolve, but lenders and dealers are looking for opportunities to create the right value. These investments in data analytics and technology are driving the next generation of connectedness that creates an end-to-end relationship with customers and their journey.
Transaction Enablement Gets More Streamlined
Another recent example can be seen through technologies that are helping automotive dealerships enable faster, secure transactions through a more streamlined car-buying experience that saves car buyers and automotive retailers time.
This is critical since, according to Cox Automotive's 2018 Car Buyer Journey Study, fewer than half of consumers are happy with the average three-hour transaction time at the dealership today. Sixty-nine percent of automotive retailers see the need to create a better customer experience and a more streamlined sales environment.
One of these technologies in particular allows car buyers to review competitive insurance quotes and speak with a licensed insurance agent while at the dealership or after they return home with their new car.
Given the opportunity to view competing quotes from an array of insurance carriers, car buyers save on their monthly premiums and gain more in buying power to put toward their new vehicle purchase.
This platform is powered by technology that pre-populates much of the information needed to provide insurance quotes and submit a finance application, reducing the number of form fields a customer needs to fill out to two (date of birth and zip code).
Dealerships also can receive additional reports that include crucial customer information such as credit score, income verification, and employment verification.
As dealers and lenders use data intelligence, technology platforms and analytic tools, they widen opportunities, better understand customers earlier on and streamline the purchase process. (Wards Industry Voices contributor Jenn Reid, left)
Jennifer “Jenn” Reid is vice president-Automotive Marketing & Strategy Lead, at U.S. Information Solutions (USIS). She is responsible for the development of Equifax’s automotive growth strategies, as well as overseeing specific marketing plans and initiatives.