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With the rise of The Empowered Consumer, it appears that the Age of the Customer Experience is upon us. Jerry Gregoire – CIO of Dell – put it rather succinctly: “The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.” With today’s automotive shoppers more empowered than ever before, this certainly rings true for dealerships.
As we’ve discussed in related blog posts, studies have shown that adopting a customer-centric business strategy will give dealerships higher levels of retention, positive word-of-mouth, and ultimately sales. Despite this, most dealerships have yet to adopt this strategy, which spells major opportunity for those that do so today rather than waiting for the strategy to gain widespread adoption.
Below are three major reasons why your dealership should adopt a customer-centric business strategy today.
Some of the most successful businesses in the world – Apple, Amazon, and Zappos to name a few – have revolutionized the market through their customer-centric business strategies.
Despite the prevalence of these companies, their revolutionary strategies have yet to gain adoption in the world of automotive retail. According to DrivingSales, 99% of shoppers expect the car shopping process to be a hassle. On the surface, this may seem to be a bad thing, but what it really underscores is that there is major opportunity for dealers who can provide their shoppers with an exceptional customer experience.
Given that most dealerships are not currently optimizing for the customer experience, this means that those that do so now will face very little resistance from their competitors across town, and will therefore have a much easier time reaping the rewards than those who wait.
Being a forerunner of innovation isn’t for the faint of heart, but adopting Customer Centricity now means an opportunity to build a large base of loyal customers and to grow market share while competitors are still twiddling their thumbs.
Building customer experience isn’t just a way to get a head start; it keeps working to distance you from the competition. Customer Centricity is all about gaining loyal customers for life, who keep coming back to your dealership to buy more and more, and who also refer their friends, families, and social networks to your dealership. So it stands to reason that the more of these lifetime customers you gain, the more entrenched in the marketplace your dealership will be.
Once you reach a critical mass, other dealerships in your market will have a difficult time competing – even if they drop their prices. According to Autotrader, 54% of automotive shoppers said they would buy from a dealership that offered their preferred experience over lowest price. Ultimately, a Customer-Centric strategy will make your dealership immune to the “race-to-the-bottom” price wars that a lot of dealerships engage in today.
By the time competitors decide to play catch-up and adopt Customer Centricity, they’ll already have lost too much market share. This is entrenchment; the gift that Customer Centricity keeps giving. It’s one of the most potent advantages a dealership can gain from a focus on customer experience.
Customer Centricity is beginning to catch on the automotive industry. OEMs such as Mazda, Ford, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, and Volvo are beginning to push their dealerships to adopt Customer Centricity through a variety of programs. Some of these OEMs – such as Mazda and Nissan – are already beginning to incentivize their dealerships based on the customer experience.
Forward-thinking dealerships should jump on the opportunity immediately, because it’s only a matter of time until their competitors across town begin to the do the same.
In short, there is a massive advantage for dealerships to get in on the ground floor of what is shaping up to be a revolutionary trend in the automotive industry. Make sure to jump on this trend today, before other dealerships in your market begin to do so. Start small, think about ways to optimize your store’s customer experience, and you’ll be one step closer to reaping the great rewards of innovation.