There is no doubt that the impact of Covid-19 has changed the way we communicate as a society. Video conferencing has become an essential part of everyday life, with its ability to keep workers, customers, families and friends connected, in a distanced yet personal way.
Prior to the pandemic, video conferencing was reserved for occasional work meetings, or for infrequent group chats to mark special events with friends and family in places far away. Today, it’s clear we’ve become more comfortable than ever using video as a means of communication, in all aspects of life.
Our customers had a head start with video, with many sales and workshop staff already integrating video into their working day. When dealerships were forced to close their doors as a result of lockdown restrictions, retailers had to quickly adapt to increase the amount of digital communication between themselves and their customers, either employing new skills or adapting the way they use technology. As a result, what we’re seeing now is that a dealer’s online presence and digital channels have never been more important for bridging the online-to-offline journey. Personalised video messaging in particular is known to improve engagement rates, and in such challenging times is enabling salespeople to deliver the reassurance and guidance consumers want. CitNOW’s latest data backs this up: the watch rate for videos received by consumers in September 2020 was up 21% on the same month in 2019.
Changing our approach to training
In the early days of the pandemic, it very quickly became apparent that we needed to take action to support our partners in the industry. We needed to change our way of working to help new and existing customers, as they looked for new ways of contacting customers in a safe and convenient way.
As trusted advisors of video to the automotive industry, we have explored digitisation of our academy services over the last two-years and this year we accelerated this to launch a multi-channel, expert led, fast start offering for customers which boasts virtual, digital and physical training.
What’s always been clear for us is that it is extremely important for retailers to develop a deep understanding of the best practices for producing high-quality, engaging and personalised customer videos – and to keep developing new skills. Presenting in a confident manner – judging what information is key to a specific customer, and making sure it’s delivered in an interesting and engaging way – takes training and practice.
We know that our customers get better results with our service when they have received training as part of their onboarding experience. Prior to the pandemic 96% of our training was delivered in person – so lockdown meant we had to adapt fast. We had a real business need to get this part right very quickly, so our customers could make the most of our tools.
Since mid-March, we have concentrated on developing our online training resources for new and existing customers. We embarked upon a rapid onsite to online conversion of training processes, materials and resources internationally within just three weeks. This has resulted in us virtually training over 300 automotive retailers to date via 250 webinars and new eLearning modules.
Following the initial easing of lockdown restrictions in July 2020, we have continued to focus on growing our contactless support for retailers. Our How2CitNOW video series on YouTube, is designed to help retailers create engaging videos for their customers. We have also launched new eLearning modules available exclusively on our customers Dashboard alongside their reporting and video monitoring tools.
At CitNOW, we’re dedicated to supporting retailers through difficult times, and we’re very proud that many of them have managed to keep the conversation going with their customers through our digital platforms. Moving all our Academy processes, materials and resources online internationally in just three weeks was no mean feat, but we are delighted that our actions have provided such outstanding support for the industry at a critical time.
The incredible effort made by our team has deservedly been recognised by the Learning Technologies Awards, as CitNOW was shortlisted for the ‘Best international digital transformation of a training programme in response to COVID-19’ award. By the time the winner is announced in November, I sincerely hope the auto retail industry is still on the road to recovery. We’re confident that video has a crucial role in making that happen, and we will continue to support the industry as it adapts to a new era in automotive retail.