The real currency of an Amazon-like experience isn’t the one time digital purchase. It’s the iron clad loyalty earned from delivering the whole frictionless digital experience (before and after the sale) that brings the customer back again and again. As many dealers are rightfully considering digital retailing (which abruptly ends the digital experience at the point-of-sale), leaders are emerging to deliver “Digital Lifecycle”.

Embracing a customer’s natural digital tendencies is ultra relevant and tactically smart for a dealer to offer as a new sales channel. It’s not a “do or die” proposition for dealers to abandon their current successful methods or to close their showroom doors, in exchange for a digital retailing platform. It’s simply a new and timely revenue channel honoring the legions of customers that preferred to engage on their smartphones today. No brainer right?

Should the digital engagement end at the point-of-sale? Consider this…once a customer purchases a vehicle digitally (or at least was assisted digitally to remove the current in dealership experience pain points), what comes next? Analog anarchy! The auto “sales” industry is predictably focused on new customer acquisition (leveraging digital retailing), then in many cases digitally disconnects from their customers after the point-of-sale. Many (if not most) customers that make the huge financial decision to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a vehicle, never come back to the selling dealer again. Why?

All industry professionals agree, “business is built on relationships”. Most of us also understand (whether personal or business) that relationships are healthy, maintained and/or grow with good communication. Today, a dealership primarily uses phone solicitations, junk mail (postal or email) and/or random text messages in an attempt to stay connected with their customers. No matter the methods or techniques used with these types of communications today, customers are conditioned these are usually fraudulent in nature. Ask yourself…what do you do when you get a phone solicitation, junk mail or random text message? Engage it or ignore/trash/delete it? It’s not if we connect, but how we connect that makes the difference.

Additionally, all F&I providers promote “greater customer retention” in addition to the gross added to the deal by selling their programs. But how do most F&I providers support their dealers or the dealers’ customers when F&I service is needed? It’s a maze (because we live in a multiple F&I provider world) of various 1800 numbers, phone queues and manual claim processing. Many F&I providers still believe “CALL HOLD WAIT TIMES” are a relevant measurement of customer experience in 2020…when any length of time on hold is not a good experience. Some F&I providers believe they’ve checked the digital engagement box by deploying an online (fill-in-all-the-blanks) claim form. It’s an experience alright (just not a good one), because those methods are cumbersome and always prompt a phone call followed by manual claim processing. Even if an F&I provider has its own app, the Achilles heal of that app will always be it only supports certain F&I products by that single F&I provider…forcing the dealer’s service advisors and customers to navigate multiple unrelated apps or processes. Given all the aforementioned, are we still contemplating why loyalty and retention is so poor? It’s currently a dealer brand dilution, customer experience blackhole. F&I providers have great people, but these service support methods are ancient and totally disconnected from how today’s customer wants to connect. An Amazon-like experience it is not, in most cases.

Today, auto manufactures primarily promote “the experience” of owning their vehicles. Shouldn’t we be leveraging the same “experience” embodiment beyond the customer acquisition (in an industry that has become commoditized) to make a more meaningful and relevant connection between the dealer and their customer throughout their ownership journey together? If we digitally embrace customers for more than just selling them a car, they would embrace their dealer beyond the point-of-sale. Think about it…it’s obvious and critically overdue. A transformative solution exists today to elevate our industry standards and evolve the purpose driven mission of “digital lifecycle”, beyond digital retailing. Every dealer and their customers are waiting for you (or someone else) to deliver Your Dealer Experience (YDE).

At this critical moment in our industry…it’s no time to be on the sidelines. You are either a part of the solution or part of the problem (and there is no in between). Leaders have emerged and are emerging making their vote clear with YDE. Engage us and them today! YDE is the current and back-to-back Industry Summit Technology Challenge winner.