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Online contact is the way ahead for dealerships

By Tony Willard
Alphera Financial Services director Andy Gruber believes the use of appropriate technology is the best way for dealers to create long-term customer relationships.

“The pace of change and adoption of social networks is breath-
taking and the challenge for dealers is to exploit these systems to
engage customers,” said the head of BMW Financial Services’ non-group division.

“One way we’ve seen this working well in F&I is live chat.

"More dealers are establishing new ways for customers to contact sales advisers via their website.”

Gruber said customers were able to ask questions about model availability, vehicle specifications and F&I in real-time.

People could quickly and easily engage with a dealer without filling in lots of forms, and was proving effective for many dealers.

Alphera has seen dealers using a more joined-up approach to car and F&I marketing.

This includes using F&I to open a conversation with a customer, rather than mentioning it after they have chosen a car.

Gruber said: “More digitally enlightened dealers use finance to drive their social media strategy.

"Insurance can also be daunting and confusing for consumers and this gives dealers a good opportunity to provide informed advice to create trust and long-term loyalty.”

The growing influence of the internet in researching the market applied equally to cars and finance, he said.

This put added pressure on dealership sales managers who needed a far more in-depth and practical understanding of financial products they could offer.

“New technology has empowered customers, who may have a better overall understanding of rates and products available than most sales managers,” said Gruber.

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