ADP has said it will soon announce a new online service bookings application for Autoline which is encouraging given its large market share.
Vauxhall is also working in this area and is reporting month-by-month increases of customers booking work online.
Meanwhile, Nick Chudleigh, ADP marketing manager said the use of tablets in aftersales departments is increasing, resulting in improved customer engagement.
Measuring online return on investment
Because digital technologies have added a new layer of costs to the automotive business, keeping score is imperative to see what is working best and where improvements can be made.
With each new initiative comes metrics to assess performance and dealers and manufacturers agree that these new, high-quality data sources are leading to better-informed decision making and business planning.
Vauxhall retail network development director Chris Roberts said: “Digital technologies are providing us with very effective closed loop lead management.
“Being able to track every enquiry from our website through the sales process is giving us better conversion rates and improved CSI.”
Where to next?
“The future is the merger of communications channels,” according to Cambria’s Ian Godbold.
“Live chat is now the norm and video live chat will increase and improve once 4G is mainstream. I believe all consumer enquiries will automatically receive a personalised video.”
Susannah Richardson, of MPL Systems, said: “The more innovative manufacturers and dealers now understand that their customers don’t necessarily prefer one sales channel or another – they simply use the one that’s right for them at a given time.
“Providing all these channels isn’t the issue; the real challenge comes in making sure that customers’ transactional details are carried with them seamlessly, from one channel to the next.”
Reassuringly, database challenges need not hold up progress in other areas. With their power to deliver trust and transparency, customer reviews will become commonplace and their benefits will be sure to grow and video could be universal before long.
Website personalisation should progress. BlueSky’s Lauren Cooke said: “Named contacts and ‘meet the team’ pages can make dealers seem more approachable and can support ‘why buy from us’ arguments. Personalisation also goes the other way; saving customers’ views and preferences – essentially remembering who they are.
“It’s worth being aware that manufacturers prefer dealers to be neutral and consistent, whereas dealers want to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate added value.”
With such huge digital upheavals over even the past five years or so, it is safe to assume we are moving towards much more of the car-buying process being completed online for those customers who choose it.
Although buying a new or used car remains a major purchase, customers seem likely to want and expect a more dynamic, comfortable and high-quality experience, both online and in the showroom.