We are the customers! Why what we experience will shape the future of the car industry

Car brands are increasingly putting focus on improving their customer service at the car dealerships. In a highly competitive marketplace where sales are getting hard to achieve through traditional methods this is to be expected.

If we take a look back to understand how automotive sales and customer experiences have evolved, the big thing 10 years ago was car brands adjusting to the commercial power of the internet and adopting dynamic websites. The official website of a brand is a trustworthy place to begin our investigation to acquire a new object – in this case, a new car. It is our first encounter, the first touch point,  where we get our basic questions answered. We can scroll through the car’s technical characteristics and view enticing and close up photos. The website also often serves as a gateway to contact with the company employees. Consequently, we want it to be easy to navigate with a feeling of going with the flow. We want to feel welcomed and connected and not having to be led down endless roads or up dead-ends. 

Once our initial research is done we are ready to hit the road and  visit the nearest dealership of the brand we desire. The first chance for  a real look at the beauty we’re about to acquire. We are getting closer to our goal. Inside the store the interior decoration, the layout and the way we are treated by staff  is crucial. A welcoming atmosphere should fill the place. The customer experience we experienced and which pleased us on the website should  continue and must be coherent. The sole fact that we have taken the second step, shows our intent. Now it is up to the employee at the dealership, to either help us climb one more step closer to the goal or to push us backwards off the cliff.  It is here where we expect to be greeted and served with a friendly knowledgeable approach to not end up in the situation where pushy sales techniques may push us out as fast as we came in.

The main competitive tool, as Gartner insists, by the end of 2016 will be – yes you guessed it – customer experience. Even when we are convinced that our favorite brand is superior to the rest, in many cases there is an existing competitor out there that can actually provide an equal product and service. What will distinguish our choice is just a matter of personal experience and the strength of that brand image.

Accenture, a multinational consultancy,  performed  a study and found out that for 81% of respondents, personalized customer experience is among  the top 3 priorities of organizations. Micah Solomon analyzed customer experience trends and established 5 interesting trends as to what we as customers expect:

  1. A preference for being served in a way that makes the customer feel that those serving and those being served are equals.
  2. A streamlined and hassle-free/friction-free experience. As easy as on the web.
  3. Authenticity: today’s customers are on a quest for what is genuine, authentic, what feels like “the genuine article.”
  4. Transparency: A preference for businesses to be open and forthright in explanations, pricing, quality standards, vendor relations, and so forth.
  5. Adventure and Experience: A feeling that most commercial interactions are improved if there is an element of adventure, excitement, a true “experience” within the customer experience.

Coming back to our car buying experience, it doesn’t stop at driving the car home. Now we turn to the very much needed service we’ll be experience years and years to come (hopefully), in the so called “after-sales” service. The service we experience  will affect our decision to still be a brand ambassador and to continue our relationship with the brand.  Or, if we feel rather disappointed to go out and start the process again and look for another car.  

According to  Shana Rusonis, in the future, customers will care less and less about the ‘thing’ they’re buying, and will increasingly look for the value in the impact of that product or service post-transaction.

As customers it is important we get into action mode if we don’t feel we are treated the way we deserve to be. We are the ones that have the power to improve the service.  We are the engine of the future automotive industry.

Author: Vicky Lima  

Vicky Lima is a multifaceted professional with a Master Degree in Advertising. She is passionate about customer experience and the Automotive world. Besides her work in social media, she shares her passion and knowledge about cars as a writer. An avid traveler around the world investigating the relationship between customers and brands. 

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