Where do you stand with delivering great customer experience? Surveys reveal, 82% of companies believe they are meeting customer expectations regarding experience. When I ask that question to most dealers and their support communities, the usually respond with “delivering great customer service is a high priority”. If that’s the case, then why are so many customers never returning after the point-of-sale? Truth is…a very low percentage of customers believe the experience is acceptable. The disconnect is, many dealers and their support communities confuse customer service with customer experience. They are not the same thing.

Customer experience as defined by Forbes, “…isn’t a one-off interaction, but rather includes the entire customer lifecycle and every touchpoint a customer has with a product or service.” Customer service, defined by following through on a company’s promise for support, is an expectation. Delivering great customer experience (consistently before and after the sale) is a game changing distinction…especially in the auto “sales” industry, where selling a car often overshadows earning a customer.

“Being customer centric is about more than just offering a good product or staffing a contact center. It becomes a cultural way of life for the company and impacts everything from employee engagement to customer experience. Customer-centric companies live and breathe their customers and are laser-focused on providing amazing experiences. These companies disrupt their industries and are often rewarded with growth and increased revenue. Brands that have superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors. Companies that invest in customer experience see financial gains and strong customer-focused cultures.” -Forbes

The digital baton is sometimes fumbled between the digital retailing and in dealer process. Even worse, it’s completely dropped after the point-of-sale.

So let’s hold a mirror up to the auto “sales” industry. When the pandemic took hold earlier this year, the industry’s slow innovation gears began to turn more rapidly. The new focus…”digital retailing”. Although digital retailing is a long overdue and critically important solution, it’s mission is the one-time vehicle purchase, as it’s digital experience abruptly ends at the point-of-sale. Of course, our industry’s primary purpose is to sell as many vehicles as possible. However, should that be end of the dealer-customer relationship…should that be the end of the digital journey? Using any metric our industry has, customer retention is embarrassingly poor. Most customers that painstakingly choose a dealer and spend tens of thousands of dollars there…never return after the point-of-sale. By stark comparison, Amazon’s real currency isn’t the one-time digital sale. It’s the iron clad loyalty earned from delivering the whole experience (including after the sale) that keeps their customers coming back again…and again.

Digital abandonment is one of the largest revenue/retention missed opportunities, where it should be the new revenue/retention horizon for every dealer today. Think about it. Customers start the auto purchasing portion of their ownership journey online. They spend an average of almost 14 hours researching online (increasingly using mobile devices). Then when it comes to actually purchasing the vehicle, Cox Automotive research notes: “83% of consumers want to do one or more steps of the purchase process online and 7 out of 10 are more likely to buy from a dealership if they could start the process online.” Again, online is the consistent guide point and naturally chosen pathway for the customer. Research online…check. Do as much of the buying process online…check. What happens after the point-of-sale? Analog anarchy!

The digital baton is sometimes fumbled between the digital retailing and in dealer process. Even worse, it’s completely dropped after the point-of-sale. This is the natural place where F&I providers and their agents should be the anchor of the sales/retention relay team, fulfilling digital lifecycle. Instead, most F&I providers are still contemplating if digital engagement makes sense in 2020. Don’t take my word for it. Look at your favorite F&I providers website and click on “file a claim”. If you can find it, most listed claim solutions are a 1800 number (which leads to a phone queue and manual claim processing), an archaic online (fill-in-all-the-blanks) claim form…which always prompts a phone call and/or an app that only works with certain F&I products or one F&I provider. These are all part of the “disconnected from reality” problem. Even if every F&I provider had their own modern app (which most are a million miles away), the dealer’s service advisor and their customers would be forced to navigate multiple apps.

Your Dealer Experience is a plug-in solution that unifies and simplifies post sales digital engagement into one dealer branded app. F&I providers can plug-in without changing their current admin platform or internal processes. By connecting today, F&I providers create new competitive distinction, lower claim call volume, remove longstanding claim process inefficiencies, eliminate manual claim entry and transform their valuable claims team members into in-process auditors rather than manual claim processors. Dealers and their customers gain a new, desirable engagement platform where post sales Dealer Messaging via push notifications and rich communications (replaces phone solicitations, junk mail and random text messages), omni channel F&I product support (replaces the current F&I service claim maze) and F&I product enhancement sales are all in the palm of every customer’s hand. Your Dealer Experience isn’t a play nice in the sandbox solution. It’s an annihilate the competition by enhancing the dealer-customer’s digital journey and experience together while other providers still cling onto CALL HOLD WAIT TIMES and self serving solutions.

Where do stand? Are you part of the dealer-customer digital lifecycle solution or part of the disconnected from reality problem? Your dealers and their customers are waiting for you (or someone else) to deliver. Digital engagement and a customer’s experience is today’s battlefield where business is earned, retained or lost…and most are far from delivering it. It’s either a serious threat or an unprecedented opportunity depending on which side of the sword you’re on. Enhancing Your Dealer Experience is only a leadership decision away.