CitNOW has introduced a new live video feature, to enable retailers to have remote face-to-face interactions with customers.
It is available, on request, to all existing CitNOW customers.
The move follows the recent announcement from the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) that cars can be delivered in accordance with the guidelines stipulated by Public Health England, and plans set out by the Government to manage the gradual reopening of non-essential retailers, including dealerships, in the coming months.
The new Live Video enhancement allows dealership staff using CitNOW Sales or Workshop to respond quickly to individual customer enquiries with, it claims, a level of “detail” and “emotional connection” comparable to visiting a dealership.
The live video functionality can be combined existing recorded video options to deliver a contactless journey for consumers, through activities such as vehicle walkarounds, feature demonstrations and live handovers.
It will also enable workshop operatives to hold two-way conversations with customers to explain diagnostic reports and discuss any required work in real time, while adhering to social distancing protocols.
Carol Fairchild, chief customer officer at CitNOW, said: “We understand the extremely challenging times our customers are facing, and we are dedicated to serving and supporting the industry through this period.
"There has been a sharp increase in enquiries from retailers who want to engage and connect with their customers in a safe and effective way."
CitNOW suspended all charges for its UK customer base of 4,000 motor retailers from April 1 to support them while the country continues to be in lockdown.
But Fairchild said: "What has become clear during this pandemic is that video can play a significant role in meeting this requirement, and it can become a cornerstone of contactless selling and servicing processes.”
To start a Live Video session, dealers email a branded invitation to customers who can then join a live call session from any mobile or desktop device that has a camera function.
There is no need for recipients to download third party applications or services to access the video call – they simply need to click on the system-generated URL at the agreed time
CitNOW was due to release Live Video later in the year, however following discussions with its customers, it recognised a need to introduce the feature sooner.
Fairchild said: “A full release of the Live Video feature with enhanced capabilities will follow, but until then our aim is to help support the industry in the short term, as it enters a ‘new normal’ for automotive retailing.”
As part of its commitment to supporting dealers while the industry remains affected by the lockdown, CitNOW is continuing to waive subscription charges for all of its services for each customer until the government allows dealerships to open.