In the last year I’ve documented my own car-buying journey along with the pain points I’ve experienced and what could be done to improve the customer experience in relation to those pain points. During this time I’ve also been working with Deloitte Digital on a recently released study that aimed to do the following:
- Define the stages and touchpoints of the customer journey.
- Identify major pain points within each stage of the customer journey.
- Present painkillers, or solutions, to those pain points with a focus on digital solutions.
Here are some of the major pain points found in this study across the 5 phases of the customer journey.
- Lack of personalisation. The lack of customer-specific information and options is present across a number of the different phases. In the initial information phase, it manifests as an inability to configure models according to specific customer needs. Customers feel lost in the multitude of options available and find it difficult to configure a vehicle that fits their unique needs. At the dealership, customers feel that interactions are impersonal and that their best interests are not being served. Add-ons offered during purchase are perceived as being complicated or unnecessary, and post-purchase follow-up usually consists of a barrage of impersonal, untargeted ads.
- Lack of guidance. Customers often feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available to them when they first start looking for a car. What they need is someone who can help them reduce the complexity of the information and guide them through the process. The amount of information available on the Web is often unstructured and too technical and results in the customer feeling lost. Web configurators should be easy to use and designed to help users quickly find a vehicle based on their personal wants and needs.
During the purchase phase customers are looking for guidance and confirmation that they’re making the right decision. They’re also looking for expertise from the dealer about the specifics of the contract numbers and terms. They need to feel like they are being taken care of instead of being taken advantage of.
- Lack of control. Customers today want to be more in control of the car buying process. They’re not interested in high-pressure situations where they’re encouraged to sign something they don’t fully understand. Dealers today need to be transparent throughout the process by forwarding quotes and offers to the customer, giving them the time and space they need to review the contract and to ask any and all questions they might have.
Another phase where the customer feels a lack of control is during handover of the car. This phase is usually filled with stressful waiting periods where the customer doesn’t know the status of their car or when they will be able to go and get it. They may be using alternative transportation or making other sacrifices until the car is available, and not knowing the status of delivery can be very frustrating. Customers need clear communication during this critical phase to feel more in control of the process.
- Lack of appreciation. According to the study, “sellers underestimate how sensitive their customers are when it comes to feeling valued and being treated accordingly.” It goes on to say that customers “described sales staff, the dealership atmosphere, and related interactions as arrogant, cold, scheming, and pushy—all in all as conveying a lack in service-orientation.”
Once the car has been delivered, customers feel like customer appreciation falls off dramatically. This could be failing to follow-up with the customer on their level of satisfaction with the purchase. Or it could be failing to help identify new needs for the customer, overloading them with advertisements, or simply failing to interact with the customer at all. Dealers need to continuously engage their existing customers to keep satisfaction high and help identify new products or services that they might need.
The way that customers want to go about the car-buying process is changing. The amount of information available to them is both a great advantage and a road block to a satisfying experience. Dealers need to re-think their role within this process and look to alleviate the pain points that are often the result of dealers not adjusting their strategy to meet the needs of the changing consumer.
Consequently, it is up to the OEMs to define this new role for the dealers and to provide them with the data, knowledge, and technology to enable their success. They need to ensure dealers are providing a personalised experience that takes into account the unique needs of the individual. This includes training the sales staff and incentivising them not just on numbers but on positive experiences as well.
The sales staff needs to be taught how to guide the customer through their journey, providing expert advice along the way and giving customers the space and time they need to feel more in control of the process. Finally, they need to understand how to make the customer feel appreciated throughout the entire experience, from their first touchpoint all the way through to their next purchase.
This type of personalisation can be achieved through the use of integrated digital solutions that capture information for a single, complete customer profile and enable more control over when and how businesses communicate with their customers. For more information on this study, check out the link here: Car buyers want to be in the driver’s seat.