The pandemic made it clear that today’s consumers expect remote/virtual ways of doing business when it comes to automotive sales and service. It also accelerated consumer demand for flexibility and convenience.
There’s a phrase for the work that goes into meeting a customer’s expectations off-site: remote customer service. Services that were once nonexistent — vehicle drop-off and retrieval for service or test drives, remote inspections, delivery and pickup for purchases and trade-ins — are now critical to gaining a competitive edge.
I’m singling out these specific features because they each fall under the umbrella of dealership mobility and logistics. This area of the business — how and when you move your vehicles and customers’ vehicles — is full of remote customer service opportunities that can give you a leg up on your closest competitors. You just have to know where to look.
Taking Test Drives Remote
Even as more and more of the retailing process transitions to the digital space, there’s one reason bigger than any other that keeps consumers coming to the physical dealership: the test drive.
An average of 82% of consumers still conduct at least one test drive during the vehicle purchasing process.1 Is there an opportunity in that 82% to introduce some added convenience and flexibility, improving your customer experience?
The answer, of course, is yes. By offering to bring the test drive to them, rather than forcing them to come to your store, you show prospective buyers that you value their time and are committed to winning (and keeping) their business.
Remote Vehicle Inspections
Conducting remote vehicle inspections goes one step further, leveraging both your willingness to meet your customers where they are and the best available technology to complete remote and/or virtual inspections before sale or trade-in.
This makes life easier for the person you want to do business with, now and in the future. For virtual inspections, implementing digital technology enhances an inspector’s ability to assess a vehicle’s condition and identify potential problems, leading to more accurate valuations, fewer misunderstandings and better customer experiences.
Vehicle Pickup and Delivery
Nothing puts a bow on the purchasing process quite like delivering a customer’s new vehicle right to their doorstep and picking up their trade-in vehicle for transport to the dealership or recon facility.
This is remote customer service perfected, helping customers complete the transaction with less effort, greater speed and more convenience.
There’s a reason people default to Amazon to buy anything and everything these days — convenience is king.
Bringing It All Together
What ties all these remote service opportunities together? The ability to seamlessly handle vehicle movements at scale, empowering customer interactions that used to take place exclusively at a brick-and-mortar store.
If you try to implement any of the aforementioned services but can’t execute vehicle movements well, you’ll be judged more harshly than if you’d never offered them at all. This even applies for services that aren’t widespread — people get more exasperated with incompetence than with a lack of options.
The point? If you’re going to capitalize on remote customer service, improve your customer experience and increase loyalty and retention, you’ve got to get it right the first time.
Here’s one smart way to solve your mobility and logistics challenges and start capitalizing on remote customer service opportunities: partner with an on-demand vehicle delivery platform.
In this case, the right partner would help you move vehicles smarter by providing:
• Access to a local pool of fully vetted and insured contract drivers, freeing your employees from the time-consuming labor burden of executing so many vehicle moves.
• Third-party integration with ride-hailing and courier services for your customers.
Dealership mobility and logistics can be a costly trap of inefficiency — one that turns your customers off if you handle it poorly. Or, it can drive increased customer satisfaction with your dealership. The difference is in how you approach remote customer service — and if you’re ready to gain a new competitive edge.
1: V12 Data