What I took away from this:
With the all the information that this presentation gives, the overwhelming message is that the Automotive Industry and the car must continue to adapt the the needs of the consumer, and continue to be where the consumer goes.
Interestingly enough, an Automatic Service reminder feature ranked high on the requirements of the customer. As technology evolves I can only see the gaps in the service booking process being filled. Hopefully the car will soon be able to see the gaps in my calendar in my smartphone or cloud service, check those gaps with available times at the dealership, suggest those times and book the date and time I would like with the dealer.
As always, if manufacturers want customers to return to their dealerships for a service, the process to get them there must always be as simple and painless as can be.
The ‘Usefulness of research tools used” slide was the most fascinating to me of all.
Of the offline methods displayed; the test drive, peer recommendation and sales people ranked the highest. Flyers and brochures are also still doing well. The most surprising was traditional forms of media such as newspapers and TV. Are consumer numb to ads on TV? Is the typical ‘massive theatrical wow’ car advertisement with special effects showing nothing but a car driving in beautiful scenery giving nothing of use to a potential customer? One of my favorite car ads on TV showed people using all the features of the car in different situations and environments. I could relate to that, if made me want that car and those features. I can’t see myself with the product if it gets put on my TV screen on the back of unicorns in front of a waterfall.
Of the Online methods, professional review websites, forums etc. all rank very well, however dealership websites ranked last. The consumer is telling the industry that websites for car dealerships do not do anything for them and did not add anything of value to the sales experience. This is however in stark contrast to visits to dealership websites going up.
They are finding the website, the website in where they are looking, it is just not useful to them, so chances are the customer will go elsewhere to find what they are looking for.
A website is not a digitised billboard. A website must be a place that answers your customers questions quickly, easily and with a minimum of fuss. A website must also create loyalty. As Mark Cameron of Working 3 points out in this article, one must create an online brand experience that keeps customers coming back for more.
The study also showed that customers were going to inventory based websites to find their. This to me shows that customers want to know exactly what they are up for. Are they hesitant to go through the sales experience? Do they just want to buy a car without the hoopla? The time of the purely online dealership option seems to be getting closer.
I also find it interesting that customers are barely using social networking and video sharing websites to research their potential purchase, despite these websites being the most visited on the web. Is it due to a lack of presence and content? I tried to search for information on these style of sites when I was shopping for a car, and would have liked some. I found some videos of my car on YouTube. All from USA and Canada and from online magazines and dealerships. When I went to the multiple manufacturers YouTube and social media presences, I could not find anything about the vehicle I had in mind. I did however get some videos on track days and other corporate events. I asked on a brands Facebook page and got a website link. Thank you. However I had come from the website to the Facebook page in search of more.
A fantastic study by Google and I can’t wait for the 2012 version.
What did the study highlight for you?
- Automotive Advertising Agencies Focus on People Using Social Media Vs Product or Price (fajarindra.wordpress.com)
- Reaching Automotive Consumers Online with Google Advertising and Online Video Ads (YouTube) (firstrate.co.nz)
- Cortese, a Local Automotive Dealer in Rochester, NY, Grows in Spite of Slow Economy (prweb.com)
- YouTube Is Your Friend (rvsocialmedia.com)
- New Study on the U.S. Automotive Service Market Topples Key Industry Myths (prnewswire.com)
This is reflecting Ford’s heavy investing in infotainment systems over the past couple of years and paves the way for an exciting future, making the car more integrated and relevant in our gadget filled, online lives.
Whilst we at millionsofmyles.com think it’s a great step, we are surprised that with Detroit’s economic situation, the R&D lab could not have been built there and the talent hired from Silicon Valley.
Regardless, it’s a great step forward for Automotive Technology.
- Ford to Open New Research Lab in Silicon Valley (xconomy.com)
- Ford Announces New Research Lab in Silicon Valley – doing open-source hardware? (adafruit.com)
- Ford, Serious About Smart Cars, Stakes Out A Place in Silicon Valley (spectrum.ieee.org)
While the brochure and automotive advertising have come a long way, they often fail to seamlessly connect the brochure reader to the manufacturers online presence. A website address printed on the back no long cuts it and for the coming generations, nor does the brochure.
This is a great step in bridging the brochure to the digital world.
A fascinating link I came across last night as to why Ford has just become a software company.
Ford will send out USB sticks containing a major upgrade to the MyFord Touch system.
By doing this Ford is breaking an old industry cycle of cars remaining relatively unchanged from production.
In my opinion Ford making a car a ‘device’ that you can upgrade and fit in with your life is showing brave visionary thinking and genius.
Just what is needed to ensure a company is around tomorrow in this day and age.
Click here for the article.
- Ford Plans Major Upgrade to MyFord Touch Software in Early 2012 (spectrum.ieee.org)
It is a fantastic post with great vision for the Automotive Industry and a view I resonate with.
Jordan has worked with many Automotive clients and brings a unique outside perspective on the Automotive Industry to the table.
Let me know your thoughts.
- Social Media Influences Automotive Industry According to New Study (socialtimes.com)
- Auto sector vital to vision 2020 goal – BKG boss (vanguardngr.com)
Below you’ll find a fascinating and informative link containing some cracking statistics on Internet use in Australia.
Mobile data subscription have gone from 1,222,000 in Dec ’10 to 3,609,000 in June ’11. Astounding growth.
The report highlights what the market wants and where it wants to head.
Recently I have been in the market for a vehicle. The shopping experience has been fascinating and something I will blog about in the future.
We had decided on what car to get and it was just a matter of finding the right dealer. This to me meant my local dealership. It’s better for all involved if I do my best to be a buyer coming from the dealership’s PMA (Primary Marketing Area) and get the best dealer I can.
When we arrived at the local dealership, we spent some time looking at the model we wanted on the dealers lot. We noticed folks inside and there were plenty of customers outside, but not enough sale staff for the people. After about half an hour of looking we decided to go and get someone to help us.
The staff member we asked then went to get a salesperson. The salesperson was pleasant enough and we took the vehicle on a test drive. We were sold, this was definitely the car we wanted.
We arrived back and sat down to talk. The dealing process was ok. As usual it was a bit of a struggle at times but ended up getting $2K below what we wanted to pay and with the options we wanted. Stock was searched and they had nothing in our requirements on site but there was a car coming in. We were informed car would be delivered just under 3 months later. I was a bit miffed and was now a bit reticent, especially since this was the first dealer I had visited for the brand of car we were buying. I decided it was worth the wait.
I was informed they would need a $1000 deposit to reserve the car for myself. The Sales Manager was introduced to us and informed us that we were under no obligation to purchase the car as it was ‘ordered stock’ anyway. If we changed our minds, we would both come out no worse and the $1000 would be refunded whether we purchased the car or not, all we needed to do was confirm the finance.
The dealer printed off the car purchase form and made notes on that form that purchase was ‘subject to finance’ to give us an ‘out.’
I signed, shook hands and left excited to have a new car soon.
That week, a situation arose in our life that made buying a car seem like not something we also needed to deal with at this time. We could afford to wait while things settled down. We weren’t happy with the finance quotes we had started to get or the blasé service we got from the finance companies. The planets weren’t aligning, it felt rushed, wrong and wasn’t worth the possible risk. We went with our gut.
I called the sales person that week to explain the situation and that we would not be proceeding with the purchase of the car. I relayed the situation and that we weren’t happy with the finance options. I assured him that the deal was fine, the sales process was fantastic, it was nothing that they had done. The salesperson got slightly annoyed and stated that they would not be able to refund me the $1000, in “ill play a difficult game” tone. I reminded him of the conversation we had with him and his sales manager. He acknowledged and told me to put it all in and email and send it to him for the refund to be completed. Done.
After a week I checked my account. The money had not been refunded. I emailed the sales person to check the progress and asked him to let me know if any issue arose, to please contact me.
Two days later, there was still no email reply. I called the dealership. The sales person had left for the day, I left a message for him to call me back.
The phone call was not returned after the weekend. I called again late Monday afternoon. I was informed Monday is the salespersons day off. I asked for the sales manager. If was his day off too.
I emailed the sales person after the phone call and wrote that I had not received the refund as yet and would like him contact me as soon as possible.
I still had no reply by this weekend(a week after the previous email), so my partner and I decided to go into the dealership to sort it out. Why weren’t they communicating with me? I was getting worried as I certainly didn’t want to be loosing $1000 at this point in time. Seemed very strange.
We saw the Sales Manager in his office as we walked by and checked into reception. We were attended to by the Corporate Sales Manager. We politely introduced ourselves and asked if we could see the Sales Manager. He went to the Sales Manager and came back to ask us what it was regarding. We explained the situation, lack of contact and thought that there must be an issue and we would like to help rectify it today.
The Corporate Sales Manager had a look of disbelief and slight embarrassment and asked if we had filled out a refund form yet. We said we were not aware there was one and we had not.
He sat us down in the cafe and went and got the paper work. It was all completed in five minutes. The Corporate Sales Manager apologised and asked if there was anything else we required. Not at the moment, we thanked him for his help and told he had been a pleasure to work with.
After thinking about the situation all day, I can’t help but think this all could have been a lot better and a lot less stressful if I had just been communicated with.
If the process was to simply fill out a form, that’s fine, put me through to the person who can help me with that if it is not your area to do so. I am happy to come in to do it if that is the requirement. Just communicate with me.
When the time is right to buy in the next few months I would have happily gone straight back to the dealership to buy again. However after this, never again.
I would think that in any case, it might have occurred to the salesperson that I, the customer, might one day be in the market again. Wouldn’t the salesperson want to make sure their dealership is the first positive thought of a dealership in my mind. To leave on a great note, until next time?
I also won’t be recommending anyone go to that dealership after this experience. I don’t expect to be pandered to after getting out of a deal. I also don’t expect to be totally ignored if they not completed there end of the deal.
A lost profitable sale and minimum 3 years of service work, negative experience relayed in conversation; simply due to a poor attitude leading to poor communication, over $1000.
In the end, good communication is a simple necessity in a customer service process. It can go a lot further than is immediately apparent.
What are your thoughts on the situation? What would have you done differently?
- Five things to do before you go the dealership (becarchic.com)