What Customer Data Can Do For Dealerships


The dealership is the final stop on the purchase journey for an automotive customer but the experience usually begins in a third-party environment. Most customers aren’t willing to endure the long purchase process dealerships offer on the ground. A study by Cox Automotive found that dealerships scored a 46% satisfaction rate for how long the final purchase process takes.

“Despite billions spent by OEMs (brands) and dealers on modern showrooms, slick mobile apps, and armies of social media managers, the human element —the last mile of the customer experience—is keeping consumers away from dealerships and crippling the auto industry,” writes Lior Arussy, CEO of Strativity Group for Dealer Marketing Magazine.

Aligning the human workforce with the digital experience comes down to how the scores of customer data streaming in and out of dealership management systems are utilised and how ready sales teams are to use this to their advantage.
Dealerships have a lot on their plate, often one dealer is managing multiple car brands, leads can get lost in the ruckus. At times customers walk in unannounced and dealerships are ill-equipped to meet expectations.

Therefore the human element can be improved by auto brands both acknowledging the needs of an empowered customer and equipping their teams to handle multiple interactions. It’s not just about gut instinct and talent anymore, data is there to be used and the dealerships that fail to modernise will fall behind.

This is where a data-driven (pardon the pun) approach comes in handy. Here are a few ways to apply customer data to improve the dealership experience.

Collect data!

Gauging a potential buyer’s digital context is the first step to a more complete understanding. How did they get there? Was it a dealership group landing page, a PPC ad via Google or a banner ad on a news centre like the Guardian website. Round up the context with the product itself, i.e., the car make and features. When all this data is collected, the context is complete. Customers that call or arrive from online forums are the easiest to track with the right technology, walk-ins can also be recorded into the CRM using registration forms or geofencing.

Profile and segment

After data is organised into profiles, it can be segmented and prioritised. Say one particular caller is interested in a luxury model, they would be placed in a higher value segment due to their increased CPA (cost per acquisition). Prioritising these callers based on aspects such as; location and car brand helps dealerships utilise their time and expertise better, in addition to improving customer experience and pick up rates. This kind of process is important for dealerships that sell more than one car brand because callers are assigned to a specific salesperson who has extensive knowledge of a particular model.

Dealerships Solution

Finally, data doesn’t have to be scary

For dealerships who are wary of the huge undertaking that comes with overhauling a legacy system, there is a silver lining. Integrations! These are useful because they are able to pass incoming data into an existing DMS (dealership management system) and make the process of change less jarring for auto brands and their vendors.

Via: Dealer Marketing Magazine 

How To Ensure A Smooth Brand to Dealer Experience

brand to dealer

Possibly one of the best times to buy a car is during the festive season, due partly to discount-happy dealers aiming to make their end-of-quarter sales. However, the journey from beginning to end can be tenuous for brands.
By the time a consumer has clicked on the test drive button, the connection between brand and caller is broken, after that, the dealer takes over the process. With such a large pool of engaged clientele congregating online, the ability to follow a lead into an acquisition is arguably facilitated by the digital communication channel.

A Little Background

The automotive model has remained steady for the last century, the entire research and buying process standardly occurred at brick and mortar dealerships, but with the advent of digital marketplaces like eBay,, Car Giant, and AutoTrader the market has expanded significantly. According to AutoTrader, “car buyers now spend 59 per cent of their time online,” researching a future purchase.
Other stats illustrate that 23 per cent of these customers are enduring a full customer journey online up until buying the car at a dealer.

The problem is that the dealership interaction can sometimes negate the relationship created between brand and caller up to that point since 88% of consumers refuse to buy a car without a test drive, multi-location businesses need to consider ways to bridge this gap. Additionally, there is a feeling of disconnect felt by consumers once they’ve left the cushy, streamlined world of online branding.

“My experience was that the dealer was remarkably unaware of the steps I had already taken to get this far. When I arrived at the dealership, the car I had requested was available to be driven, but the dealer didn’t know if I had configured the car, what my criteria were in buying a car, or why I had chosen the make, model, and options that I had,” writes Adobe Digital Experience blogger Axel G. Heyenga.

Despite the fact that dealerships operate as independent entities, consumers remain connected with the brand’s website during their time on the ground.

A Car Buyer Journey study commissioned by Autotrader and conducted by IHS Automotive found that the top five uses of a mobile at a dealership include, “comparing prices for vehicles at other dealerships (59 per cent); finding prices for vehicles at the dealership where the consumer was (41 percent); comparing inventory at other dealerships (38 percent); check inventory at the dealership where the consumer was (36 per cent); and research trade-in pricing (33 percent).”

The evidence more than suggests that the buyer is less comfortable breaking ties with their online data pool, they are also arriving at a dealer sometimes more educated than their salesman.

A Smooth Continuation

Many auto brands and marketplaces have found novel ways to connect the dots; Audi City is one example of an attempt at digitising the showroom culture, BMW also seeks to make their on-the-ground experience less informative and more transitional. Still, the ability to follow a lead may require a more structured and transparent set up that lays the brickwork for brands to monitor the entire car buyer’s journey from research to purchase.

As technology continues its rocket towards a fully automated existence, eventually brands won’t have to worry about such a separation — test drives may even be conducted from the comfort of a living room, and all coveted customer data will be collected under one digital roof.
Until then,“ the overarching lesson here is the need to view the automotive customer journey as a whole,” states Oliver.

Via: Oliver, AutoTrader