The automotive industry is changing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As customer priorities shift, so too must car dealerships and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) if they want to build brand loyalty and sustain customer relationships. By placing the customer at the heart of everything, dealerships and OEMs can strengthen their strategies for the customer experience and maintain customer-centricity in their marketing plans.
A personalized experience is a foundation for customer engagement success, particularly when interactions happen entirely, or primarily online. By creating meaningful engagement digital experiences, these organizations can build strong relationships that transcend face-to-face interactions. Instead, the relationship between the brand, product, and customer can become meaningful across email, phone, and video through fully customized experiences.
Dealerships and OEMs should be focusing on learning how to guide customers through these high-cost, emotionally-driven purchases. At the beginning of the customers’ journey, it’s important to understand the customer’s motivation for their new car purchase. Then, dealerships and OEMs can provide key unique selling points to help educate and influence purchasing decisions. Digital transformation is, for example, enabling the automotive industry to connect emotionally with customers through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). These innovative technologies allow for virtual test drives to create a realistic experience for the customer to influence their decision.
In a recent webinar on how dealerships and OEMs can build customer loyalty, Matthias von Alten, VP of Management Consulting at Publicis Sapient, commented that, after the effects of the pandemic, the automotive industry needs to shift “from a focus on cars sold to customer loyalty orientation will be a crucial driver of success for the automotive industry. This does not mean just an “earn & burn” loyalty program. Future loyalty initiatives must cover the entire customer lifecycle and add value to each customer touchpoint, making peoples’ lives more comfortable and convenient.”
Von Alten explained how these old-style incentivization strategies alone are not enough to earn customer loyalty. Instead, vehicle design and remaining on market trends will keep customers attracted and connected. Applying the customer-centric approach to research and development will help dealerships and OEMs remain at the forefront for their customers. Communication will also help maintain long-term relationships with customers. By cultivating these relationships before, during, and after the sale, dealerships and OEMs can nurture loyalty.
Developing a deep understanding of evolving trends in customer engagement and loyalty will set a dealership or OEM up for success during this intense period of disruption. With 65 percent of buyers in the automotive industry being repeat brand customers it’s vital that OEMs and dealerships focus on customer-centricity and building brand loyalty. By integrating the in-store and digital experience, dealerships and OEMs can establish and strengthen their customer relationship bonds and provide optimal experiences.
To learn more about a customer-centric approach in the automotive industry, click here.