The speed at which automotive technology is advancing means that today’s innovation is tomorrow’s standard and OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) can no longer be market leaders just by differentiating on the latest technology trends.
“However, they can get the edge by embracing innovation in the customer experience area,” says Dirk Bott, a Global Account Executive of Sewells-MSXI, a leading global business outsourcing company focusing on automotive retail, in an article in the company’s Benchmarker magazine.
“Tomorrow’s retail will be shaped by new shopper behaviours, needs and demands. Think about it: By 2025 millennials will no longer be children in the backseat of the car; they are more likely to be driving their own children to school,” added Bott.
He continued by saying that delivering customer expectations will require redefining the roles, responsibilities, and skillsets of everyone involved in delivering customer service across the entire experience ecosystem in the retail motor trade.
“Already today, customers are no longer looking for a car salesperson. They want an automotive retail professional: A highly-trained consultant who picks up where the potential customer left off in his or her online research into buying a specific car, they want a person who speeds up the transaction for them and a person who offers them talk-worthy information they cannot get online. Research has shown that 54% of car buyers in the United States say that a good customer experience plays an important role in their buying decision.
“Training for customer-focussed roles and responsibilities will always, to some extent, include facts and figures, but the programme also needs to strengthen communication and digital skills. You can’t just give a salesperson an iPad without explaining its advantages and uses in the sales or service process. Technology is just the enabler.
Similarly, you can’t just make vehicle and customer data available to dealerships. You need to train them how to analyse the data to improve their customer service and thereby increase dealership profit,” continued the Sewells -MSXI executive.
“Vehicle manufacturers and distributors would do well to study other retail businesses and lifestyle brands where the establishment of product expert roles to create a better overall customer experience has been a standard practice for years now. Some automotive OEMs are already paving the way, mainly with their premium and luxury brands, but volume brands need to pick up speed.
“Aftersales will gain momentum because of the wide and growing range of new technologies being incorporated in today’s cars, requiring new roles from staff such as service advisors, to support existing customer needs throughout the entire aftersales life cycle. The rapid changes in vehicle technology will require vastly different skillsets from what we see today.
“This changing environment makes the appropriate staff training vital for enhancing the customer experience, which is increasingly important to the business success of a retail motor dealership in the 21st century,” concluded Dirk Bott.