Taking Control: Improving the Millennial’s Car Buying Experience

Tattoed guy is listening to a podcast on his laptop

In our previous post, Driving the Market: What Millennials Look for When Buying Cars, we shared some insight into what can help you and your dealership best maximize your chances for sales success and brand loyalty–when it comes to one of the fastest growing, car buying-demographics.

Following up, we’re addressing what dealers can do to adjust their business practices for what millennials look for–their priorities and expectations–in order to increase the chances of this huge demographic driving off of your lot in one of your vehicles.

How Can You Court Millennials

First, and most important: think digital. Think digital by leveraging the online tools and platforms at your disposal, the tools that can help you expand your reach and cross paths with your customer online. Successful companies and businesses are willing to take a chance on things that give them a competitive advantage, willing to take calculated risks in order to outdo the competition. Successful companies also utilize their people’s strengths, so how are you utilizing the strengths of that millennial you have working at the dealership that can’t stay off social media? How are you utilizing the latest tools? Tools like Facebook Marketplace, which has the attention of 24 million Canadians every month, provide dealers with the opportunity to share their inventory and participate in real-time interaction with their customers. Since launching in May, we’ve seen dealers have great success receiving numerous, high-quality leads–as long as they stay diligent when it comes to answering chat and messenger inquiries. After all, one of the sticking points for the millennial customer was receiving prompt responses.

Okay, so you’re thinking digital, but what next? Well, adopting strategies that will increase the number of searches around your dealership is always a great choice. The millennial customer rewards forward thinking business that are willing to adopt a creative approach–as long as it is authentic. In 2014, Volvo made their limited edition XC90 available online only. In 2016, Jaguar enlisted online influencers to help promote the new generation of Jaguar vehicles, to great success. Tesla, one of the most forward thinking OEMs in the industry is currently inviting potential future customers to design their unreleased Model 3. While these strategies may be the result of substantially larger budgets, there is no reason your dealership can’t harness the essence of these ideas; engaging with your customers in a way that best fits your dealerships unique situation, budget, and resources.

Back to tools for a moment–for a demographic that does a huge amount of research online before ever stepping foot into a dealership, your website can be a make or break experience. Having the right features, the right tools, and an enjoyable user experience, are all factors contributing to the ideal shopping experience. Not only do you need to have the information your customers are looking for, and answer the questions that they may not have asked yet, but this information and these answers need to be easy to find. It’s a bit of a paradox; millennials are better than any generation before them at finding things online, but they’ll leave your site quickly if that information isn’t easy to find. The fact of the matter is, if you can’t or won’t answer the customer’s queries, someone, often the competition, can and will.

One of those features or tools that provide a markedly better user experience is online chat. Having a chat solution on your website is the new normal, and helps visitors who undoubtedly have questions. Not only is having chat an important piece of the puzzle, but one that requires diligent upkeep. As per the first blog in this series, people expect a speedy response, and how quickly and accurately you respond could be the difference between a sale, or having the customer go to your competitor down the street.

With technology rapidly improving, these chat solutions will continue to evolve in whatever form best helps the customer. Live video chats are one such path; we’ve seen companies such as Agent AI, LiveAgent, and Aquire push the envelope of what we had ever imagined chat, on a dealership website, could look like.

Of course, you’ll want to maximize your investment in chat which means, as we mentioned earlier, an attentive eye. Having a dedicated person or team that answer chat inquiries is a sure-fire way of showing this demographic that you take their questions, and business, seriously. Take the time to have them properly trained in the best-practises for online engagement, and that they answer queries quickly and carefully. Many in sales at dealerships are guilty of pushing the agenda, whether on the floor or via chat. If a customer has a question about a vehicle they want that question answered, they don’t want to start the credit application process.

Another aspect of user experience that cannot be understated is website load time. Not only does a slow website leave a customer frustrated and ready to leave, but it can also lead to Google penalizing your site (negatively impacting your search visibility). This can lead to tough decisions that you must make based on utility. Sure, that OEM video embedded on your homepage looks great, but does it improve user experience? Chat may slow down your load time slightly, but compared to a video it is immeasurably more valuable. You know what’s not valuable? Pop-ups. We can think of very few instances in which a pop-up will improve user experience. That isn’t to say never, but choose wisely (and when your website provider cautions you against it, listen to their experience in the field).

That’s not to say videos are a non-starter. In fact, visitors to your website may appreciate informative, relevant videos. Information on features, how to use said features, vehicle walk-arounds, safety information, and whatever else your customers are asking about can certainly be answered via video. But these videos can live on their own page, and not affect your overall site speed. An excellent example is how Mercedes informed customers about their vehicles with this video series.

This type of attention to detail, that offers customers value every step of the buying process, only builds trust and makes them more likely to choose your dealership. What seems like an afterthought in the grand scheme of things, can have a major impact on the customer’s experience and willingness to spend (a large sum of) their hard-earned money with you, and not the competition.

Young and handsome hipster man, buying a new car with his girlfriend, from the car saloon.

Engagement This New Demographic

Engaging a potential customer at every interaction, whether that be face-to-face or a visit to your website, is imperative to creating brand loyalty. Leverage the customer’s questions and concerns, answering them truthfully, and create that repertoire that will turn a new visitor to a new customer. This requires your entire team to buy-in, but given the impending dominance of the millennial demographic they can’t afford not to. Millennial customers expect a lot, but the dealerships that can cater to these requests will be incredibly successful. Keep in mind this extends beyond convenience and a website–millennials expect honesty, integrity, transparency, and community support. They’re also not easily fooled, and if your attempts at the above are not authentic, they will have been in vain.

Now, should you be able to check off all these boxes, to showcase your brand online well and provide value to the customer, you will reap the benefits. Millennial customers are more than willing to go the extra mile for a business that does the same. No longer bound solely by geography, the best dealerships will draw business from all over. When millennial customers feel at ease with a salesperson that is trustworthy and knowledgeable, as opposed to aggressive and insincere, they’ll be happy to choose your dealership and make a deal.

Keep in mind your job isn’t done once they’ve chosen your dealership–the experience has to be memorable for them to speak highly of your business within their circle of influence. And there is no greater ROI than that which you receive from good old-fashioned, word-of-mouth marketing.

Does this all seem like a lot? It is, but that’s okay. No one said it would be easy. Focus on being a leader, both with your people and your industry. Be innovative. Porsche Central Oakville was when they introduced a pilot project called Go Instore, a series of live video walkarounds that helped personalize the online shopping experience and answered customer questions without them having to step foot in the store, and it paid dividends.

By the time a millennial customer steps foot in the dealership, odds are they know what they want. If your online experience is a strong one, and your in-store experience matches, there is no reason they will leave your dealership disappointed. That transition from online to offline should be seamless. Why? Well, for starters, because the millennial customer demands it. But beyond that, it strikes us as good business. Strathcom is here to help set up impeccable online experience, and we’re confident that your in-store experience will seamlessly continue said exceptional experience. The key word here, seamless, is highlighted in this Globe and Mail article outlining the fact-based, convenient, and streamlined experience that the modern customer prefers.

The goal? To sell more cars. Should you be able to harness all this information we’ve given you, not only can you sell more cars, but you will build brand loyalty and experience loyalty–you will be the dealership that your customers talk about. And if there’s one thing millennials do well, its talk about and share their experiences with their social circles.

Start with one thing a day, focus on constant improvement, and you will find that you are able to cater to the intense demands of the millennial customer.

Oh yeah, you’ll sell a lot more cars too.

Have any questions for me? I’m easy to reach. Email me, Mick, at mlolekonda@strathcom.com, and I can help you target the largest growing demographic of new car buyers out there.

Young and handsome hipster man, buying a new car with his girlfriend, from the car saloon.

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