Lessons can be learned from the Smartphone industry on how automotive solution providers should be delivering modern, innovative and nimble products and services to our dealership business partners. Having the tenacity to rapidly deliver imaginative development, meeting customers’ real-time needs, and more importantly, exceeding market expectations has reached new heights. For example, I can remember when I received my first flip phone back in the mid 1990’s, and having the freedom to take a call and not have to hunt for a payphone when the pager went off – that was great! However, the age of the flip phones soon became a thing of the past, as had the rotary phone.
Today, we have quickly embraced pioneering technology that captures every move we make, allowing us to have a conversation through our wrist watches, enabling us to have a video chat with our caller, as we walk down a sidewalk ,and empowering us to manage our daily and professional lives without ever stepping foot into an office. This could not be accomplished without innovators such as Steve Jobs, who had a vision, who designed for passion, and who listened to his users to design next generation technology. But the real take away from Job’s legacy is this: don’t settle for what works now, figure out what the future needs are; then create and quickly deliver in order to drive new freedom and strive to exceed expectations. Never settle for just ‘OK’
Dealership marketing technology seems to be exploding right now, but is it really? When talking to dealers and their marketing directors about what ails them throughout the work day, a consistent message I hear is “I have a CRM, it works okay, it gets the job done, but boy, I can’t believe how hard it is to pull data, and I can’t see all the necessary information that I need in one screen.” This to me is unsettling.
Knowing dealers deserved better products, faster delivery, we should set course to develop marketing software solutions that create efficiency, ease of use, and quick access to customer information. Developing the next generation dealer CRM requires us to understand why dealerships struggle with their current systems. Yes, when they were built they were new age products, and most have evolved to being web-based, which creates the illusion of progress. However, the challenges auto marketers experience is that the leading CRMs were built on archaic database platforms that require multiple layers of data spreadsheets in order to pull information that is queried. This creates convoluted and time consuming processes to run reports and accessing customer information; especially when a sale is ready to go. Frustration sets in, customers become impatient, and ultimately, sales are at risk.
Our marketing technology needs to evolve like other industries, such as Smartphones, to create report information that is accessible in one centralized location, is flexible and nimble to implement and ultimately enhances the auto buying experience. We need to think and develop like Apple and Amazon; and deliver on promise like Zappos.
In our industry, time is a precious commodity. Don’t put your sale or customer needs at risk with settling for “just OK”. Embrace technology that empowers you to work smarter–and not harder–because if you don’t, your business will become obsolete, while your local competitor drives the next generation of technology. I recommend as you begin to evaluate your marketing needs, create a list of your current pain points and use this to help evaluate your next marketing business partner. Don’t be shy about inquiring about their development roadmap, future product roll outs, and how are they going to enhance your user experience from being just “status quo”. Be passionate about your marketing and partner with solution providers that deliver excellence.