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.
Red and Amber Work - the Open Goal Opportunity
From missed red work alone, dealers are losing £170K pa income per dealer rooftop – let’s change that.
70% of retailers believe that their aftersales teams could be missing out on £170k pa of red work revenue.
As retailers start the year, the positive takeaway is that an open goal opportunity is available to many in the industry. The crucial next step is to convert more identified aftersales opportunities from theoretical chance to actual income.
Understanding the current reality of red and amber work performance at a dealer level starts with data. The perfect step is to benchmark performances against our extensive data bank collected from dealers of all sizes and locations. Data from our RTC Insights team is helping a growing number of dealers understand their current performance levels, which means they can identify gaps between poor, average, or best-in-class. The simple task of identifying the gaps is the starting point for improvement.
At AM Live in November, we shared some best practice areas for red work that can help form the basis for improvement because they are designed to contribute to addressing performance gaps. These include some or all the following;
- Monitor team and individual performance consistently – individual and benchmarking of performance is an effective way of identifying best practices and training needs.
- Identifying the best time to contact customers – capturing customers’ preferred contact methods and times is a highly effective way of improving engagement and response levels.
- Track technician utilisation – this can ensure time is optimised and helps to ensure the right skills are allocated to the right job.
- Taking time on each eVHC to identify safety issues accurately is a duty of care to the customer. Our analysis reveals that the sweet spot for eVHCs identifying work is 16 minutes. Spending less time meant less work identified; however, spending more time yielded no additional benefit.
- Using video, such as CitNOW Workshop, to reveal the safety work identified to each customer brings concerns to life; crucially, it also helps cultivate a transparent connection centred upon care.
- Analysing declined red work to understand why identified safety work was not undertaken for the customer. It is important to stress that recording the reason given by the customer accurately is essential.
- Assessing the time spent per vehicle on the tasks identified – it is an excellent way of finding marginal productivity gains.
Across these opportunities for improvement, the CitNOW Group ecosystem has tools and expertise that can help.
From our experience, getting these basics right consistently is a critical success factor in creating value for the customer that converts the opportunity into reality. How eVHCs are undertaken creates an authentic picture and customer care that can make all the difference. Accuracy of reporting, supported by video and considered dialogue, is critical.
At its heart is a simple ethos – promoting customer safety and convenience.
A New Year can often be the platform for a personal and professional reboot, an opportunity to be the best version of ourselves. If you are keen to realise the potential of a £170K increase in turnover simply by enabling your business to be more productive, we should be talking.
We can help and would be delighted to have the opportunity to make a positive impact.
The Emerging Role of AI in Car Retailing in 2024
Enhancing productivity and the customer experience
Artificial intelligence (AI) technology has been around for a while now, with tools such as Alexa and Siri and voice command navigation technology in cars used daily by many people. Increasingly, the retail motor industry is looking at the potential of the technology to enhance their proposition and operating models.
CitNOW Group aims to be at the forefront in leading the use of AI applications and tools. In 2024, dealers can expect to benefit from a series of AI product innovations designed to support sales and aftersales. In fact, many dealers are already using CitNOW Group AI technology through the Group’s Auto Imaging business, where AI imagery, quality control & real-time feedback are well established.
In 2024, Auto Imaging’s AI capabilities will accelerate further, taking time out of the video process for new and used cars and allowing potential customers to see vehicles in greater detail than ever, with key external and interior features highlighted. Bringing this detail to life will be available to customers 24/7.
This additional visualisation available through Auto Imaging’s new technology may give some customers everything they need to make a purchase decision. However, for many more, we expect it to be an imaginative addition that will enhance a customer’s journey and dealer perception, helping to take their interest in a car and dealer into affirmative action.
As well as exploring the potential uses for AI technology, we will continue to de-mystify and share insights on the practical applications we see emerging for car retailing and aftersales in the coming year.
The immediate opportunities we see across our brand ecosystem are taking time out of repetitive processes, providing an additional communication platform to enhance the customer experience, capturing additional customer data, and improving car inspection and repair experiences. In short, the immediate opportunities lie in improved productivity, greater process consistency and, crucially, the chance to enhance the customer experience and ownership journey.
The potential for a car to be sold entirely by AI is feasible, but an online-only purchase journey is already possible today. What has been learned through the increase in digital tools for car retailers and buyers is that for many buyers, the omnichannel experience is most valued. AI can help to improve the experience, particularly for buyers most comfortable with technology. However, for many others, it will be a complementary tool that increases the value of face-to-face dialogue.
Auto Imaging’s new AI capabilities are exciting; the prospect of greater efficiency and an enhanced customer experience available 24/7 is compelling. We welcome the opportunity to discuss its use and positive impact, and as per our belief in an omnichannel, we are still delighted to talk about it face to face.