In a tech savvy world where digital communications dominate the landscape, it can be too easy to forget customers are also individuals, according to Marketing Delivery.
A digital agency it may be, Marketing Delivery will make the case for the human touch in a multi-channel approach when managing director Jeremy Evans leads a workshop at this year’s AM Digital Dealer Conference, which takes place on September 4 at The Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire.
Said Evans: “The temptation is to force customers down the digital route which can be detrimental as we all move effortlessly between one form of communication and another, and expect dealers to do the same.
“They also need to listen to customers and their preferred contact method; for MoT and service reminders, for example, email is overwhelmingly the first choice. But only in the first instance; when it comes to booking their vehicle, our research shows a staggering 90% want to do so by phone.
“In many respects, dealers need to take the emphasis off the online service booking as our analysis shows people want to talk to someone when booking in their vehicle but customers do not want to be called at the reminder stage. Of course, there are those who do want the option of booking online so customers have to be given the choice.
"Everyone is different yet they all want to be communicated with in a certain way making for a very complicated and intricate course for dealers to navigate. If there’s one certainty though, an unhappy customer will turn to social media to vent their frustration.”
Drawing on research from Capgemini, Marketing Delivery outlines people’s preferred method of contact during the ownership phrase with email at 28% being the highest single group but digital as a whole, easily dominating with over 70% of customers selecting a digital channel.
More traditional methods such as letters and telephone make up the remainder.
One of the issues dealers have to overcome is the limitations of the DMS which, in Evans’ experience, does not enable all communications to be undertaken as effectively as each channel demands.
He added: “No DMS I have encountered can manage all levels of communication to the highest levels which means dealers and dealer groups need to outsource to various experts such as call centres, social media agencies and specialist marketing companies or employ a large in-house team which encompasses the wide skill set today’s automotive retail business demands.”
Marketing Delivery counts both Swansway and Cambria Autos among its clients and both groups outsource different marketing elements to a number of external agencies.
Added Evans: “People do expect to be communicated with as an individual and we have got to improve in this area although many dealers are constrained by the data quality contained within or the capability of their respective DMS.
"To build loyalty, increase retention and develop leads, dealers will need to communicate with people on an individual basis, seamlessly across all channels both off and online and ideally will engage in a mix of SMS, email, social media, telephone calls and face-to-face visits.
"Dealership communications have to be prepared for all eventualities.”