An executive with a global company that provides strategies to dealers looking to grow their client base suggests the number one thing they need to have is empathy for consumers.
Jason Barrie, Chief Operating Officer of DAS Technology (formerly Digital Air Strike), which works with more than 7,800 dealerships in 32 countries, tells Canadian auto dealer that retailers that have compassion can develop better communication with buyers. He said buying or servicing can be a tedious and challenging experience for consumers and dealers need to have a greater appreciation of what they are feeling and trying to accomplish.
“For most Canadians and Americans, buying a car is the second-most expensive asset they are ever going to get,” said Barrie. “We’ve all seen the stats, and we treat (the customer buying experience) sometimes in the industry like it’s a microwave. We try to just get them in and get them out. The best retailers we partner with have that empathy.”
He acknowledged some consumers approach buying a car with the same uneasy feeling as visiting a dentist because they don’t feel in control.
“It absolutely does exist and it goes back to that empathy statement,” said Barrie. “I’ve been in auto since 2005 and I’ve seen the evolution of digital retailing. Part of what we’re really proud of at DAS Technology is we focus on CX, the customer experience. We have a 45-dealer group advisory board we work with and one of the things we focus on is ‘forget about digital retailing’. Forget about trying to shove a process or trying to sell a car online to the consumer. Let’s focus on the customer experience, where certain components should be digitized.”
He said it is especially pertinent on the financial side to ensure the consumer is matched with the right lending program.
“The lending market is very different in Canada versus the U.S.,” said Barrie. “It’s a much smaller footprint, but it’s the same challenge in both of enabling that consumer, whether their credit is poor or strong, match them in the right vehicle, aligning with the right finance options to exceed expectations.”
He said there is no reason any consumer should be filling out a credit application on a piece of paper that is being photocopied.
“Let’s use technology in a really smart way,” said Barrie. “Let’s help consumers, when they’re researching cars, to get payment options, investigate trade-in and insurance options. Let’s create a better consumer [experience] by being more transparent in our communications, answer the questions the consumer is asking, and make it timely.
“The best dealers we work with do a really good job of that. They are not racing to sell a car online; they are racing to create a really good experience.”