According to a new report by Accenture, automakers will need to strengthen their relationships with their dealers if they wish to offer their customers a next level customer experience, increase their sails, and cultivate greater consumer loyalty.
The report is based on a survey of 7,500 car owners and more than 200 car dealers across six countries in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, as well as on interviews with industry executives and insiders.
Based on the report, automakers tend to offer a rather fragmented brand experience, often resulting in low consumer-engagement and satisfaction, particularly in the post-purchase stage. The true challenge that automakers will have to face is the offering of an improved level of ease and personalized experiences on par with other industries. This is of incredible importance, as up to 47 percent of customers said that they would consider switching auto brands if the customer experience fails to meet their expectations.
Additional research also revealed that drivers of today are now considering other factors apart from the vehicle itself as critical to the overall customer experience. These can include the dealer/workshop network, accessibility to said network, staff expertise, data privacy and protection, and sustainability. The disconnect between consumers’ concerns with practical, everyday considerations such as repairs and maintenance has the potential to put the entire industry’s sales model at risk.
According to Accenture, the key enabler of delivering a better customer experience is better customer insight. However, when it comes to automobiles, it is the dealers who have the most interactions with the customers, not the automakers. As such, the dealers are the ones who possess the most customer insights within the industry. As such, in order for automakers to improve their own customer experience, they will need to enhance their collaboration with dealers, making them more of a partner.
The report also recommends several actions that automakers can take to improve relations between them and their dealers.
Regain Dealers’ Trust – Dealers are likely to remain the backbone of automotive sales and interactions for the foreseeable future. As such, automakers should spare no effort in improving communications with dealers to transform their relationship and gain their understanding and support.
Define the Future Role of Dealers – Automaker’s should be working together with dealers to develop a preferred sales model based on the dealer’s strengths.
Building a Win-Win Relationship – OEMs and dealers should assume a certain amount of risk and develop standalone solutions. Once the relationship is set in stone, they should focus on budget, reach, data and system integration, working together to build a data pool, among other objectives.
Flexible Implementation – Automakers should try to avoid imposing inflexible standards and processes on dealers and avoid replacing such processes with new but just as unproductive systems.