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Bridging the clicks to bricks experience with personalised digital communication

It’s no secret – the automotive buying process is now more digital than ever. In fact, in our recent blog, we explored how the car buying research process now goes much further online than ever before, with most people only visiting the dealership 1.4 times before they buy their car. However, as people move through the process, physical, human interaction is still a critical part of the journey – both online and offline.

In this blog, we’re going to explore the best way to bridge the gap between these two worlds, and why it’s important to make it happen effectively and efficiently.

Why emotion is important

Responding to enquiries used to be as simple as picking up the phone and encouraging the potential buyer into the dealership for a test drive – the idea being to get the customer engaged with the car by seeing it in person as soon as possible. The downside to this approach though, is it does little to build an emotional connection with the buyer before they come into the dealership, resulting in a transactional and cost-driven discussion.

Using video (recorded or live) after an initial enquiry begins to build familiarity and rapport between you and the buyer and vehicle straight away. This means that when the conversations do progress into the physical realm, they’re much more human and friendly. Cost becomes less of an issue as the buyer has already started to build an emotional attachment to the vehicle.

There are other benefits of engaging in this way…

The most obvious benefit for buyers is that information can be shared digitally before they have to cross the threshold of the dealership. They can actually see the vehicle they are interested in and ask questions about it on a live video call, without having to leave their living room. For sales executives, it means when customers do arrive, they’re more ready to buy because they already have most of the information they want.

In times of restricted retailing this is even more important – the customer wants to see the vehicle but cannot visit the showroom in person. Utilising video communications brings the showroom to the customer and builds a relationship with the sales person at the same time.

Even in normal times, digital communications improve efficiency by helping sales executives focus on closing the deal, however it’s especially important these days, when physical contact is limited to the absolute minimum. Here are three ways you can provide information digitally before a customer visits in person:

  • Research: Asking questions about models or features, and enquiring about pricing, are the two main reasons customers reach out to dealers before they visit, according to Google research. Live or recorded video functionality can fulfil these duties online, making for smooth, fluid conversations that bypass the formality of conversing by phone or email and can show the vehicle whilst the conversation is taking place.
  • Booking a test drive: 43% of customers say they contact dealers in advance in order to book a test drive. Pre-recorded preview videos that set out the basics of the vehicle in question are ideal to ensure the customer gets the best from their test drive experience – particularly for solo test drives where you will not be sitting beside them.
  • Finance and negotiation: More than 60% of customers now say they feel comfortable discussing finance or buying terms either partially or fully online before they have an in-person visit. Live video can really help here, especially if it can be done from your desktop computer – allowing a video call and screen sharing to make it as transparent a process as possible.
Key takeaways

The important thing to remember with this idea of combining online and offline is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Every customer is different, and so your guiding philosophy should be keeping as many options open for each customer at each stage of the process.

  • Managers: Consider how you can promote and market digital services for customers, and how they can seamlessly move from physical to digital and back if they so wish. It is also worth considering offering a guiding hand in how the tools at your disposal, such as CitNOW, can be used by your teams. Practice, exchange ideas, analyse videos and think about the ultimate customer experience at all times.
  • Sales executives: Use your CitNOW toolkit to it’s full advantage and replace some of the normal showroom visits with ‘virtual appointments’. It might not be the usual showroom experience, but what better way to build engagement than showing them everything the car has to offer and answering their questions with a virtual demonstration. Pre-recorded videos can work just as well if the customer isn’t ready for a two-way video call, to help build rapport before you have even spoken to them.

CitNOW can help you perfect your mix of online and offline, and create customer experiences that impress and increase conversion. Register for one of our free webinars or explore the tips and advice available in our How2CitNOW video series on YouTube.