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The personal touch: connecting with customers in a changing world

In every type of retail, experiences are increasingly faceless and digital. This can make it more difficult to go the extra mile and deliver a personalised approach – something that can differentiate a good retailer from their competitors, and give them a strong competitive advantage. Automotive retail is no exception to this, and if anything, personalisation is even more important in car buying given the values and importance involved in a car purchase.

So how can you work personalisation into a sales process when an increasing proportion of that process (and especially the initial research stage) is online and impersonal? This blog highlights the facts around how today’s customers interact with dealerships, what their priorities are, and how you can use video and integrated customer journeys to deliver the personal touch.

The difference personalisation can make

Recent ICDP research* has highlighted some of the emerging trends within car buyers behaviour, including that:

  • 92% of customers visited at least one dealer in person during the car buying process
  • 84% visited dealers on at least two occasions
  • The maximum amount of time that people are prepared to travel to visit a dealer has increased by more than 20% since 2014

These findings demonstrate that visiting dealers in person is still valued by car buyers, even at a time when online touchpoints are becoming more popular. And with so many more making the effort to travel further for the right car, it means there is scope to stand out from the crowd with personalisation to encourage a visit.

ICDP research also revealed that people and processes at the dealership have a major influence on customers’ purchasing decisions. This is an area where video can be extremely valuable: video can enable a strong connection with the sales executive, helping advise customers and answer any questions for a personalised, consultative approach.

In particular, it’s worth considering the good first impression video can help create, as the first visit to a dealership doesn’t necessarily have to be physical. By using video, you can connect with customers before they make the trip, introducing cars, offers or sales executives, and start building the relationship early.

Strategies for integrating personalisation

There are many different tactics you can adopt to ensure that your customers get the personal touch, at every stage of the sales process and across both physical and virtual touchpoints. Some of the best strategies we recommend include:

  • Enabling conversations: when customers get the chance to ask questions, and get specific answers to their queries from sales executives, they will feel more valued and more engaged in the sales process. Live Video can do this job just as well as a face-to-face conversation, as it delivers quick answers and undivided attention from the staff member. Likewise, a personalised, recorded CitNOW video addressing customers’ questions from their initial enquiry can have just as positive an effect.
  • Building more personal relationships: customers don’t want to build a relationship with a brand or company – they want to build one with a person who understands their desires and priorities, and can help them with those needs in mind. Putting the right technology in place can help relationships be nurtured, such as walkaround videos where a salesperson addresses a customer directly, or follow-ups after a visit to a dealership.
  • Maintaining integrity with the customer: at a time when 87% of car buyers would prefer to research their next car purchase online, it’s vital to ensure that all touchpoints are open and transparent. This can include detailed videos to highlight specific features on a car that a customer has shown particular interest in; short video walkarounds; and consistent, good-quality imagery including 360-degree images where possible.
  • Managing the customer journey: customers don’t like uncertainty or a lack of communication, especially in the current climate where the length of time between ordering a new car and taking delivery can be long. Platforms like CitNOW and Dealerweb can be used to manage customer comms, including regular contact scheduling so that salespeople can record videos and distribute them to customers at the ideal time.
In summary

It can’t be underestimated just how much of a difference the personal touch can make. What customers remember most about any retail experience is good service they receive and expectations that are exceeded – and these are the things that can help you stand out from the crowd.

Video should remain an integral part of the process, even if for many dealer groups, high demand has made sales easier of late. Having those strong video-based strategies in place will make it far easier to make the most of every opportunity, helping to drive customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Understand how to perfect personalisation in your sales videos with some great tips in this How2CitNOW guide.

*ICDP, 2021 consumer survey, n = 2,405.