The UK is in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. How will this impact car dealers?
There is no doubt that the cost-of-living crisis, which is predicted to be with us for some time, has had a significant impact on consumer buying habits. It has been widely reported that we are all looking to save money where we can, reviewing what we spend per month on energy bills, on-demand subscriptions, even food. It is no surprise therefore, that luxury items, including cars, are under the spotlight.
Many dealerships are already looking at their business strategies, replanning for the months ahead and pivoting their focus to those areas where they can make best margins, whether it be ramping up used car sales or doubling down on aftersales offers.
The environment we find ourselves in today is one of almost limitless choice and consumer temptation. Loyalty cannot be assumed. Brands need to stay as close to their customers as they can, and this is even more important during times of economic uncertainty. For dealerships this means making the car buying experience as enjoyable and human-centric as possible. By introducing solutions that deliver a streamlined and omni-channel car buying experience, one driven by customer preference, dealerships are ensuring they will deliver on high customer expectations.
Keyloop’s focus is on making everything about buying and owning a car better – for the retailer and the customer – and it has made considerable investments in ensuring its range of products deliver an end-to-end solution designed to support every touchpoint a dealer might need. The SilverBullet eCommerce solution (a Keyloop company) gives customers a fast, responsive, and intuitive online experience and because it’s available 24/7 dealers can benefit from an unlimited selling window. EnquiryMAX (a Keyloop company) is a one-platform solution that seamlessly and efficiently drives the whole sales process, giving complete visibility of enquiries, appointments, and a sales team’s activity.
The current climate is causing automotive retail to change – and at pace. The winners of tomorrow will be those who can adapt and innovate today, and dealers need to maximise every sales or aftersales opportunity, plugging into the solutions and products that best support them. If selling cars is a blend of art and science, Keyloop is the science.
The impact of economic stress is not new for the automotive industry; what lasting impact did the pandemic have on the car buying journey?
It is widely acknowledged that the pandemic accelerated the shift in the buyer journey to online. Our research has shown that one-in-three UK car buyers are open to the idea of buying the car completely online, and 88% now prefer to use personalised digital solutions to interact with salespeople remotely.
This change in buying behaviour means dealers should focus on delivering the personalised omnichannel sales process that customers demand, and experience in so many of their other online retail interactions. Digitalisation is transforming the automotive retail experience for everyone, and technologies that might have been seen as advanced prior to the pandemic, are now a standard expectation.
To encourage sales during this current period, how can dealers create a truly omnichannel experience?
Whilst consumers undoubtedly spend a lot of time researching car purchases online, almost two-thirds (63%) still believe it’s essential to visit the dealership before committing. So dealers need to combine the in-person sales process with an engaging online one if they are to win and keep buyers. Car dealers must provide customers with exactly what they want, which is to effortlessly toggle across touchpoints – from live chat to video calls, text alerts to in-person meetings and more.
One of the easiest, and most visible, ways dealers can meet customer demands for more digitised products is to create personalised online interactions. For example, Keyloop Message helps dealers take control of the multi-channel experience and drive loyalty with every SMS and email. Its easy-to-use messaging tools and team-based workspaces help retailers engage customers in two-way conversations, increase responsiveness across key departments and give retailers a 360 view of engagement.
Another way is to transform the documentation process. By using a digital document solution, like Keyloop Documents, customers can access and sign sales and service documents remotely. This also delivers real benefit for the dealer, helping save money and time. In fact, research has shown dealers could save up to £4 and 2-4 hours per deal file.
How can car dealers create a seamless customer experience once the purchase is complete?
Once customers are impressed by a highly personalised and enjoyable car purchase journey, dealerships must capitalise on the aftercare experience, where they can continue to deliver exceptional service levels and leverage more margin.
Our own research into digitalisation underlined the strength of the opportunity in aftersales and servicing; 70% of UK car owners want to book their service online and 55% would like to receive text message updates about the status of their car during their vehicle service.
SilverBullet Service (a Keyloop company) is an online booking platform that helps dealerships with service retention, seamlessly ‘plugging-in’ to retailers’ existing websites. It offers three key components – scheduling, inspection, and collection and since it was launched in early 2022, the demand for SilverBullet Service has seen continual high growth and implementation by dealers.
Keyloop Communications enables Service Advisors to update customers on the status of their service, as well as facilitating authorisations, via text messages.
Products such as these, and others from our approved Keyloop Partners which deliver on a range of aftercare solutions from video to pricing, ensure that automotive retailers can continue to retain and sell to customers across the lifetime of their vehicle ownership.
What other opportunities are there for dealers to build great relationships with customers?
Increasingly, we are all finding ourselves busier, our lives less controlled by a 9-5 working pattern and replaced by a more ‘on-demand’ approach. As an industry we need to adapt to meet these evolving lifestyles. Dealers need to take a 360° view of each customer and build a multi-channel communication process, personalising every interaction – whether it be by phone, text, email or even face to face – in order to drive loyalty and build highly personalised relationships. In a world where customers need to be interacted with when and how it best suits them, dealers need to double down on providing exceptional messaging services.
By using products that help dealers simplify communication, ones like Keyloop Message, dealers can resolve basic enquiries and update customers quickly in the channel that best suits them.
What makes Keyloop stand out?
Keyloop is working to create a more connected future for the automotive retail industry, one where an end-to-end ecosystem of products and solutions is seamlessly served to dealers and their customers. Our vision is of a smooth, simple and human-centred car buying and ownership experience, one which matches any on or offline retail experience. We believe that when dealers are supported with the best technology, we are helping them (and the industry overall) achieve a significant increase in customer satisfaction and, in turn, business performance and profitability.