Creating a Better Customer Experience with Technology
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Creating a Better Customer Experience with Technology

Here are five ways dealers can use technology to their advantage to get a leg up on the competition.

Scott Penn is the VP Business Development for APCO Holdings.

More customers than ever say they’re very satisfied with their shopping experience. Digital retailing plays a huge role in this change, but few buyers want to complete the entire process online. A successful digital retailing program doesn’t mean you need Amazon one-click capabilities.

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When I work with dealerships using digital retailing to thrive, they have a common philosophy: Create a better customer experience using technology. Here are five ways that can work.

1. Embrace Transparency

Are you there to guide customers who are online? Digital retailing can provide transparency when it comes to details like trade values, financial options and payment estimates.

Technology that gives customers the chance to pencil their own deal can give them more trust in the numbers. Many buyers are payment shoppers. Visibility to what makes up the final price means they’re more likely to understand terms. Customers can be more realistic when they see how credit score, trade equity, and budget impact the deal.

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Digital retailing can get your customer further down the funnel and make the process more efficient. When they do come to the lot, your sales team isn’t meeting them for the first time. It is important to choose the right tools and equally important to get full adoption by your sales staff.

2. Inform Shoppers

A better experience online can sell the car. Educate your customers, from vehicle details to payments and F&I product options. Give the same information consumers have access to when speaking to a salesperson in your store.

Dealership services give dealers an advantage. Use technology to list your offerings, from complimentary maintenance and lifetime warranties to free washes and loaner cars. These extra value points help you stand out. Pricing guarantees, vehicle exchanges and return policies can ease worries about buying the wrong vehicle or paying too much. Don’t wait until customers are on the lot to sell your dealership.

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3. Focus on F&I

Dealers who save the F&I pitch for the showroom risk frustrating buyers who have come in with an expected price and payment. A lot of customers don’t understand their F&I options, why they’re important, or if they’re worth the cost.

Educating shoppers on their F&I protection options sets your team up for success. ​Margins are at their highest point ever, and dealers who want to maximize the F&I opportunity in their dealership will need to get these options in front of a customer earlier as more of this process happens online.

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4. Find the Right Partner

The best F&I partner has the resources and flexibility to support your digital strategy. Can your partner help get full adoption? Videos, PDFs and detailed coverage descriptions on your site can plant the seed about the importance of service contracts and other benefits. Does your partner have these tools?

Compliance is even more important. An increased digital presence can open dealers up to regulatory issues. It isn’t enough for a partner to offer product training. Dealers need a layered training approach and ongoing development to make sure sales teams are ready to do business online or on the lot.

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5. Build Trust

Trades, credit and payment structures get complicated. A strategy for assisting customers when one of these has a negative effect is key. It’s also critical to anticipate hesitation. Buyers worried about purchasing the wrong vehicle, paying too much or mechanical problems will not take the next step without feeling comfortable that you have their best interest at heart.

Even without meeting face-to-face, you can make a connection. Remind them that you have real people on the other end of the process. Respond to every inquiry. A digital retailing strategy focused on making the same connections you make in-store can help your team earn trust.

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Digital retailing platforms give customers more control. Dealers that learn to use technology to their advantage will have a leg up on the competition.

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