I’ve spent a lot of time with dealers and manufacturers recently, discussing this very topic.
For original equipment manufacturers (OEM), the entire customer experience needs to be aligned to the brand, fit for purpose, easy to analyse and repeatable. It doesn’t really matter which end of the market you are at, an ability to exceed expectations, and differentiate, looks like a no-brainer!
For dealers, many of which represent a multitude of brands, the issue is more complex. How do they create a truly great dealer brand experience when six different manufacturers are trying to impose their own take on the customer journey?
It’s a battle of wills which I’ve yet to see successfully resolved. Does it make a difference that one operates at 30% margin while the other makes 2%?
But hang-on! Doesn’t the customer have a say in all of this too? Maybe the customer should own the customer journey. After all, it’s the customer’s view of the whole experience that really matters here.
Recently, a colleague of mine visited a rural dealership of a well-known brand selling mainly premium 4x4’s to the farming community. He’s got a shiny new customer journey model to play with which has taken years to develop and at first glance looks pretty comprehensive and slick.
“Customers don’t usually make an appointment to see me when they are out of warranty, have sufficient equity for a deposit or might be facing some big servicing bills in the near future. They come in when it’s throwing it down with rain and they can’t work on the land!”
There has to be some clear decision gates that customers pass through (or legitimately by-pass) on their never ending vehicular ownership cycle. What really matters is a need to be able to measure, analyse, predict, personalise and refine.
But these need to be simple and generic – the effort and thought leadership being focused on the space in between, genuinely allowing the customer to choose whatever process they want, whenever they want it.
And if they drop out of the journey at any stage, maybe we shouldn’t react like a PPI compensation specialist falling short of his targets.