Digital disruption has quickly crept in and firmly cemented itself into every industry. No matter how hard we try to fight it off or stick to our tried-and-true methods, technology is here to stay. New car dealerships and manufacturers are no strangers to this disruption. If anything, connected car technology is completely transforming the car buying experience as we once knew it.
In addition to technological innovations, shifts in demographics are acting as a powerful force in this movement. According to research from McKinsey, millennials will represent more than 45 percent of the potential car-buying cohort by 2025. Therefore, it is crucial that new car dealerships adapt to meet their needs and preferences while also targeting them where they are the most: their smartphones.
The Importance of a Digital Customer Experience
While Millennials, or Generation Y, have dealt with their fair share of criticism, they are also one of the most influential and digitally connected cohorts of our time. Compared to their predecessors, Gen Y is all about the digital experience, having become accustomed to personalized technology experiences from big players such as Airbnb, Amazon, and Uber. Today’s car buyers are looking for frictionless, personalized solutions to their day-to-day struggles.
Compared to others, the automotive industry has been slow to adapt to these changing expectations, leaving customers dreading the car buying experience or outright avoiding it altogether. Opposed to any other generation, younger customers are losing interest in car ownership or are opting for more flexible transportation methods such as ridesharing apps. However, innovative connected car technology is giving dealerships a fighting chance at reaching, and converting, these prospective customers.
How Connected Car Technology Helps in Three Ways
While accepting the sobering fact that connectivity is our new reality, thankfully, there are several ways technological solutions are enhancing the car buying experience. Here’s what your dealership needs to know to thrive in the digital automotive world.
- Coming to the Dealership
While technology may offer a frictionless experience to potential car buyers, there is one thing that dealerships still have to their advantage: the physical car. No matter how many hours a customer spends researching their dream vehicle (an average of 10 hours, for the record), technology can’t replace the ability to touch, feel, and drive the vehicle that the dealership offers. The first impression of the dealer environment is often established online, so it is critical that the digital and physical environments are in sync and focused on delivering a great experience. Connected car technology tools such as inventory lot management help dealers keep track of all of their assets in real-time. If a customer sees a vehicle online that they’re interested in, your salesperson can easily locate the vehicle the minute they step foot on the lot.
- The Test Drive
The test drive is a critical moment to impress a potential buyer; therefore, perfecting the experience should be a top priority for dealerships. Aside from the salesperson and test route, vehicle readiness is an often overlooked piece of the puzzle. The last thing your customer wants is to put the key into the ignition and be confronted with a low fuel or battery light staring back at them on the dash. Connected car technology, such as Elo GPS, easily solves this problem. The system gives dealers comprehensive visibility into the maintenance levels of each vehicle on the lot, including fuel levels, check engine lights, or dead batteries.
- Ongoing Vehicle Service
No matter how hard customers try to avoid it, the vehicle service experience is often a hassle involving high costs, confusing diagnostics, and time-consuming planning and commitment efforts. On average, consumers spend around 15 hours buying a new car, but roughly 50 hours having it serviced during the time of ownership.1 That makes the service-related process crucially important from a customer experience perspective. Connected car technology tools such as CarRx make retaining customers for ongoing service an effortless experience by allowing drivers to make appointments directly from their smartphones. CarRx also allows dealers the opportunity to send maintenance alerts to customers who are due for routine maintenance as well as personalized messaging targeted to their exact service needs.
When it comes to the next generation of car buyers, instant gratification is key. Thankfully, the digital space and rise in innovative technologies are helping dealerships meet these evolving needs. While Gen Y might opt out of car ownership, innovations are at least giving dealerships the fighting chance to stay competitive in the industry. Research suggests that common pain points, including vehicle service and the physical dealership experience, play a crucial role in the sales process. Perfecting this will give dealerships a competitive edge. For more information on how to integrate connected car technology into your dealership, connect with one of our trusted Elo GPS representatives.
12018 Service Industry Study, Cox Automotive, January 2019, coxautoinc.com