Enhancing Customer Engagement & Retailer Efficiency
Enhancing Customer Engagement & Retailer Efficiency

Enhancing Customer Engagement & Retailer Efficiency

In the run-up to this year’s National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention in Las Vegas, S&P Global’s event preview noted that ‘First party customer engagement is now marketing’s biggest competitive arena,’ at CitNOW Group, we agree. However, we believe better customer engagement can be linked and enhanced with improvements in efficiency.

Sales and marketing processes centred on meeting customers’ needs can be a win-win for retailers and customers.

Creating compelling online impressions efficiently 

New research by ICDP has added some additional insights to the well-established recognition that most people start their car buying journey online.

According to ICDP’s research, over 55% of car buyers decided on their chosen make and model before visiting a showroom, and less than 15% changed their mind subsequently. The confidence and precision that car buyers can achieve in their decision-making, courtesy of digital tools, is significant. While there is no single route to how initial engagement occurs, three common factors dominate the awareness stage;

  • Which vehicles to consider
  • Affordability including part-exchange value
  • Retailer choice

For the customer, this stage is all about research; for the retailer, it is about ensuring they can meet the customer’s research needs and provide a compelling, positive experience. In today’s multi-channel environment, it is also about optimising visibility to the customer, which, in CitNOW Group’s case, means as well as providing effective, engaging communication channels and innovative technology, seamless integrations with manufacturers and third-party integrations with sales platforms such as Auto Trader are key.

A primary customer requirement when searching for a car online is imagery. Research published last year found that 90% of buyers expect detailed images of the vehicle they hope to buy. It isn’t just the existence or volume of images (no less than 20, according to Auto Trader) that matters; the image quality plays a vital role in their decision and negotiation tactics.

The importance of quality makes a difference in photography and video, and not every retailer has the time, location or sometimes weather to get those ideal images, or spend the time doing it. Auto Imaging, from CitNOW Group, helps retailers to take the perfect portfolio of internal and external images with AI-driven quality control that allows the person taking a photograph to easily get it right; automatic background replacement (aBGR) and full retailer branding are other compelling parts of the package.  Some Auto Imaging customers have seen a more than 50% decrease of days in stock after utilising its aBGR feature.  

Given that 97% of people say the quality of images makes a difference in their car buying decision, Auto Imaging is proving to be indispensable to many UK retailers; add in that images can be uploaded onto car sales aggregators immediately with automated workflows, which require less human intervention, and the net result is a better customer experience and more efficient internal process.  

Take the dealership to the customer digitally

Once the customer has initially engaged it’s about transforming their experience and building a rapport with them immediately. CitNOW Sales, enables the sales team to record personalised videos to take the vehicle to the interested customer before setting foot inside the dealership. Designed for use by sales executives, it provides an easy-to-use way to shoot, edit and send personalised retailer-branded videos of a car, van or motorbike in response to a customer enquiry.

In addition to the capabilities of the CitNOW Sales application itself, there is a potential efficiency gain to be made through it’s integrations. CitNOW’s partnership with Salesforce, for example, enables CitNOW Sales video functionality and reporting to be accessible from within Salesforce Automotive Cloud while its integration with Dealerweb Showroom aids retailers to streamline the management of their customer data, enhancing the customer journey and improving conversion rates. Both ensure information about customer engagement, from initial enquiries to video watch notifications and historical activity, are shared enabling a more efficient lead and sales management process.

The importance of the online experience

Curating the customer’s awareness, consideration and decision-making journey online, CitNOW Group’s sales management product, Dealerweb Showroom, continues to prove its value.

Dealerweb Showroom was conceived with sales management efficiency at its core. It is a central hub for all sales operations with its easy-to-use, intuitive interface enabling sales departments to manage leads, create and build customer offers more effectively.

The platform also benefits from integrations with other CitNOW Group products, such as CitNOW Sales and CitNOW Appraise, and many other well-regarded automotive suppliers, including, lead generators, the major DMS platforms, F&I providers, and compliance and marketing experts. By bringing multiple technologies together, retailers can facilitate the customer’s awareness stage, lead them through the subsequent consideration and final decision-making stages in a structured manner that creates a positive customer journey, whilst internally reducing the potential for errors and creating a more efficient sales operation.

Built in reporting means Sales Managers can have their finger on the pulse of every part of their sales pipeline in a few short clicks. Add RTC Insights into the mix and you can analyse all your dealership data at the click of a button.

Don’t overlook the partexchange opportunity

A final best practice thought for this post – the part exchange opportunity.

According to recent research from ICDP, 45% of people would prefer a part-exchange process that is entirely online and through a simple email link to a customer; CitNOW Appraise is the ideal tool. It enables the customer to video their car following an easy-to-use guided journey. It allows the customer to feel engaged and in control and can be confident that they have brought their current car to life for a retailer to appraise and value.

Since the value of a part exchange is often such a central lever to the car buying process, this simple and practical application is a perfect trust and relationship builder. It can also be a double win; access to quality stock and a compelling reason for a customer to go from online to instore!

In a motor retailing world where engagement and efficiency matter increasingly, there are a number of ways in which technology can beneficial. Explore how CitNOW Group’s ecosystem of solutions can help you.