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NADA insight: what experiences win today's digital customers

BDO attended the latest National Automobile Dealers' Association in the US.

The first report of its reports on key findings from the convention's seminars looks at the best way a dealer can present their business online.

What experiences win today's digital customers

Presented by Jared Hamilton, chief executive of DrivingSales

Hamilton began by exploring how dealers will compete going forward. 

He argued that price is becoming less of a factor due to efficiencies in the market with the consumer having much more knowledge than before. 

A dealer’s stock is also less important as buyers buy more online.

Product quality is out of the retailer’s control and down to the manufacturer and so what is now becoming more key is the customer experience. 

This can transform your business if you are ready for it.

Customer experience, however is hard to execute for four main reasons:

• False confidence
• It’s nebulous to define
• It can conflict with existing business models
• Change is always hard to bring about.

Hamilton’s business DrivingSales has carried out extensive research which has produced some interesting and challenging results, some
of which has been re-tested a number of times to support the conclusions drawn:

• 56% of car buyers would buy more cars if the process was easier
• 64% of buyers did not visit dealer websites due to a lack of trust, they would rather visit 3rd party websites for their information.

The two most important reasons for customers to contact a particular dealership are recommendations from family and friends
(including through Facebook) and convenience of location to home or work. 

In terms of the attributes of a dealership, customers preferred clean and well organised sites and a personal touch from
the sales manager.

The four learning points from the research could be summarised as follows:

1. Make sure your value proposition is obvious in all that you do, for example “welcome back to the most likable dealership on the

2. Ensure your marketing includes a healthy mix of third and first party sources of information

3. Make your display pricing very clear

4. Drive a change culture that is mission driven, with a defined process, driven with daily training and monthly governance and
give your leadership time and space to implement.

The top performing dealers have the following characteristics:

Business model focusing on customer transparency

Customer communications are by preferred method

Monitor monthly CSI ratings

Personalise and position vehicles for appointments

Personalised, quick responses answered within minutes

The best practice results lead to a 41% closing rate, high CSI scores and numerous testimonials and endorsements.

Staff are trained to understand gaps in customer knowledge

End responses with questions to continue engagement

Key learning points

The way vehicles have radically changed over the past 15 years.

Reconditioning is key to the process and the best dealers will have an efficient

Deliver the experience the customer wants not what you think they want.

Click here for digital marketing best practice and procurement insight

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