Customer experience is king - 8848

Customer experience is king

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The way we shop has changed forever – be it food, love or cars – thanks to the huge impact of digital marketing.

And when it comes to the automotive industry, it is customers who find themselves well and truly in the driving seat.

Multiple devices, online conversations and peer group reviews are all influencers on how today’s motorist buys a new car. The challenge for the auto marketers then is to adopt an holistic approach and manage the whole customer experience.

Many commentators are predicting that 2017 will be the year that tens of thousands of motorists will start to buy new cars not from a salesman, but directly from their lap-tops, tablets and smartphones. If the new TV advert from Hyundai is to be believed the days of haggling at a dealership will soon be filed in the same bin as vhs recorders and cassette tapes. And the car delivery lorries will become as common place as those 2 hour supermarket delivery slots.

According to a report from McKinsey, successful digital marketing is critical to driving premium brand perception. Analysis of 24 customer ‘touchpoints’ ranked the digital experience second only to live experience in affecting consumers’ premium perceptions and willingness to pay.

Marketing professionals across the UK have been aware for some time that digital channels dominate the purchasing journey. Mobile is the fastest growing interactive way to reach customers, especially after sales, with direct-response tactics taking around 60% of automotive digital budgets. In the 2016 Webby Awards, Tinder with its popularist ‘swipe left’ dialogue, swept the board for mobile customer journey and interface. Automotive marketers can learn a lot from the dating ap – instant, visible attraction is a powerful selling tool… nothing cheap here!

Digital customers demand seamless integration. Researching online and purchasing offline requires marketers to take an integrated marketing approach based on customers’ channel behaviours.

Online communities continue to influence purchasing decisions, with social media management and proactive engagement critical. Manufacturers that create online communities are the benchmark for best practices. Everyone from Amazon to new start-ups are working on customised online experiences. Sony Playstation’s forums and community is one of the best examples of how to lead with personalisation.

When it comes to researching a product before buying, McKinsey’s report showed that nearly 70% of surveyed customers spent more time online than offline during this period.

McKinsey says that more customers want 24/7 real-time response time: they want instant dialogue with real people, not an automated ‘we will respond to your query within 7 working days’. The same report showed that dealers manage an average response time of 9.2 hours, while OEMs target a service level of 24 hours – an opportunity for potentially huge improvement.

Whatever your plans for 2017, the digital conversation is one you ignore at your peril.