The widespread adoption of the internet has clearly been a benefit to the motor trade.
It has helped consumers to access information more easily and quickly, while ensuring retailers have been able to reach a much broader audience outside of their core customer.
However, this connectivity comes with a health warning.
While digital tools continue to develop and make life easier for any number of businesses and individuals, it is important to listen to how each customer wants to interact – it cannot be one size fits all.
We have many customers who have been enthusiastic adopters of live chat, digital sign-ups, e-signatures and who have appreciated our online relationship marketing.
But, there is still a large contingent that likes to do things face-to-face.
When it comes to developing new sales processes and approaches, it is vital to consider that not everyone wants to deal with a machine.
Buying a car is still a big ticket purchase and that means that the human element of trust must still be available for those who want it.
It is also vital to ensure any new digital process is introduced while being mindful of the requirements of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
For example, those operators who are sitting at the end of a live chat situation need to be properly trained.
Anyone who is talking about finance with a customer needs to know what is expected of them, whether that is over the phone, face to face or via a touch screen.
Outside of the showroom, we also expect to see a big growth in ad tracking and the bespoke targeting of consumers who have shown an interest in a product or brand.
Other parts of the retail world do this really well and the motor industry needs to get a lot better, a lot quicker.
Relationship marketing and keeping in touch with consumers throughout their purchase lifecycle are key to building the rapport and trust that will support conquest business and retention of existing customers.
But it is important to manage the level of customer contact – no one wants to feel under bombardment.
Author: Mark Sanders (pictured), joint managing director, Richard Sanders Group
The above features in the Alphera Financial Services’ report. ‘Financing the Car of the Future'.