Well, after nine long months, my bundle of joy has finally arrived! No, my wife did not have another child—my car-buying journey is finally over and I’ve gotten my car! Not sure if you can catch my sarcasm here, but needless to say I am less than thrilled about the wait time. However, even being made to wait a standard pregnancy term for my vehicle would be bearable if the OEM and the leasing company would simply communicate more.
During my nine months of waiting I literally had no proactive contact from either the OEM or the leasing office that handled my purchase. Now I’m not talking proactive contact in the form of product recommendations, service offers, or travel incentives, as mentioned in my previous post on leveraging assembly wait time; I’m talking about not receiving basic status updates on vehicle assembly. I was left in the dark wondering where my new baby was, and if it would ever be delivered. It was always on me to contact the leasing agent for updates, and it left me increasingly frustrated as time wore on.
Not having information on the status of one of the largest purchases of a consumer’s life erodes the trust that the consumer developed with the brand during the discovery and purchase phases of the transaction. All the marketing dollars spent to lure and close a customer have now been wasted as they transition from being a full-on advocate for the brand to being skeptical of the brand and its commitment to satisfaction. The customer feels used.
The customer must come first. Even after a purchase is made through a leasing agent, the OEM is still responsible for ensuring that the brand experience is a positive one. This can be accomplished through higher standards of customer communication for leasing agents licensed to sell a specific brand, with in-depth training and guidelines as to how meet those standards.
The OEM also needs to own the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information about the customer to the leasing agents. It needs to enable them with the back-end data and connections to proactively reach out to customers with relevant information and offers. The leasing agents do not have the budgets, technology, or end-to-end online contact with the customer to accurately obtain or analyze their behavior, so this must be provided by the OEM, along with guidance on how to use it successfully.
Finally, the OEM must be willing to reach out to the customer directly, particularly when it comes to delays or other problems with the vehicle purchase. This can go a long way in preserving the customers’ positive experience because they feel valued by the business and the brand.
This. Is. Urgent!!!
Businesses need to act now as people will not wait patiently for months on end with no communication whatsoever on their new purchase. Consumers already expect better interactions, more frequent updates, and more personalised involvement based on brand interactions in other areas of their lives, and they are showing fatigue with the auto-purchase experience.
OEMs need to provide the digital foundation to allow leasing agents to get customer-specific data and communicate it in a timely fashion. This is important to address all of the pain points described in my previous blog, “Customer Experience in the Automotive Industry,” which covers some of the issues captured in the joint study by Deloitte Digital and Adobe.
Brands that adopt new technologies to address these pain points will see huge success in the coming years, whereas those that fail to adapt to the consumer’s preferred business experience will experience a loss in sales, reduction in customer satisfaction, and a decline in brand loyalty. The time to act is now—not in nine months.