With Covid-19 creating a ripple effect across the socio-economic fabric of America, life as most of us know it has been disrupted, especially that of the retail customer journey which has migrated into the digital landscape. As a new normal materializes, even the more technophobic consumers have taken to digital retail platforms and applications to meet even the most basic of needs. Many dealers had the choice of either providing the tools and platforms to consumers or board up the doors and wait. Dealers that focused on concentrating resources online, through new features, offers and technology-led innovations were doing more than keeping the lights on, they were building customer relationships that will last long after this virus fades.
We get a do-over. It’s time to turbocharge customer experience. In January, Tim Odom, president of the AAM Group, gave a presentation on what he considered some of the most disruptive trends we have seen in the past decade and how they have shaped customer experience. “The greatest disruptor of the last 10 years is Amazon,” Odom said. “How have you changed your business in the past decade? The customer at your door today is different – same person, but different expectations.” This rings even more true today as curbside test drives, online shopping and trade evaluation were sometimes the only options for dealers to sell during state shutdowns. Customers may not want to go back to past practices once this pandemic is over. It might be easy for your sales team to revert back to the days of waiting around in the lot for walk-ins, or demanding customers come to the dealership in order to have questions answered but customers know that dealers can accomplish these things... if they wanted to.
People can have food from their favorite restaurant delivered to their homes with almost no human contact and, as restaurants reopen, they certainly have not shut down their new drive through windows and curbside services. Consumers will be congregating online for the foreseeable future restricting visits to physical brick and mortar stores not only out of safety concerns but out of convenience as well. Dealers have the opportunity to create a memorable and engaging digital journey that will ultimately amplify their customer experience moving forward. It’s not time to go back to the past, but time to look forward and create personalized journeys and touch-points for consumers and adopt the digital shopping tools customers crave.
The Auto Industry has not been defeated by COVID-19. In fact, this pandemic has given dealers an opportunity to improve by embracing the digital experiences that consumers want. Contactless shopping and delivery have become the norm in almost every aspect of retail and brands need to curate specialized and memorable end-to-end digital experiences to attract lasting loyalty that extends far beyond this pandemic.