By Ken Tomaro, founder and CEO of OptionSoft Technologies
Not so long ago, dealerships had to have a full showroom staff, as well as staff in the F&I, BDC and service departments. Now that visits to our showrooms are mostly done in the digital arena, personnel has been limited and artificial intelligence such as chat bots have allowed dealership websites to provide content and allow consumers to go through the research and car-buying process without the need for human interaction — or as little as possible.
We can now accomplish many of our same goals by automating the process and allowing the customer to flow through the purchase process in a digital retailing environment on their own without guidance.
Yes, there will be times when our staff must interact with customers who have a question or problem, but if more dealers staff their internet departments with personnel who are responsible for making sure that the content on their website is accurate and available, more dealers will succeed with their digital showrooms.
We see many dealership sites that are missing information, and dealers don’t know, and the customers don’t tell them. It just goes unnoticed, giving a customer a less-than-stellar experience.
Dealers should be incorporating higher use of technology, and staffing should be concentrated to an IT department with humans who are making sure that the technology is working properly.
Much of the customer’s digital experience revolves around the research process. Keeping customers comfortable by providing pricing information without requiring too much information, is essential to keep customers on your site and not jumping off to a third-party site.
I advise dealers with digital retail capability to go online and try to buy a car on their own system. Hit the Buy Now button and see what happens. How easy and comfortable was that experience? Would you buy a vehicle on your website? Would you buy a vehicle based on the experience that you just had?
We often take technology for granted and assume it’s working as it was intended. We all assume that it works as it was demoed to us and, in reality, sometimes that’s not the case. As the times change, we need to make sure that our technology changes with it.
So, staffing the IT department with knowledgeable personnel who make sure the site provides accurate vehicle information and who complete regular website checks is essential.