Behavioral Prediction vs. Behavioral Disruption

behavioral prediction

Navigating the psychology of consumer decision-making isn’t anything new. Sales and marketing driven by big data has proved to be very successful (think Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc.), but it isn’t something that the modern U.S. automotive retailer has a firm grasp on. We are always trying to figure out what message or approach will trigger the consumer to buy, or rebuy, from our dealership.

But when we focus only on the data at hand, such as what we get from the submitted lead, or a DMS sold or service file, to influence a consumer’s decision, our efforts are limited and tunnel-visioned. Oftentimes this doesn’t include data from the customer’s “consumer market profile,” engagement level, or preferred avenue of data consumption – and in many cases, even the financial position of the customer is something that is ignored, or considered too lightly.

I would challenge you to line up every person in your sales department and ask them, “Customer A is $2,500 flipped on their ’14 Ford Focus, and you’re tasked to make a 36-month follow-up call. Customer B has been engaging with your website and your email and marketing content, buys a car every 32 months like clockwork, can drop their payment $35 per month, and prefers email as their primary contact. Which one would you contact right now?”

I can assure you that Customer B wins 99 percent of the time. Not only do I know to follow up sooner and reduce the trade cycle, but the level of engagement from this customer is high, their financial position is sound, and now I have a compelling reason to take action.

However, these two customers are actually the same customer.

Merely having clarity isn’t enough. Data without action is simply that: Data. Even assessing that data and drawing a conclusion is, at best, behavioral prediction.

And what you want is behavioral disruption.

In the Driver’s Seat

Predicting what your customers want isn’t enough. Understanding how to disrupt and drive their behavior is everything.

Big data analytics allows dealers to understand what kind of behavioral model the customer fits. Customer Experience Management (CXM) provides a measure for disrupting and altering consequent behavior. Properly managing the customer experience not only means giving the salesperson an overwhelmingly compelling reason to make immediate contact with the customer, but also establishes a “capacity of influence” over the customer. It gives them the message that needs to go to the customer, at what time, and with what content, along with how to deliver it in the most effective way possible while at the same time increasing profit potential.

In other words, CXM puts you in the driver’s seat. It allows you to manage the customer experience in every regard – sales, service, reputation, and ownership cycle – versus taking a back seat and hoping for another lead to trickle into the CRM, ILM, etc., or making a random call hoping for a sale. Now you are driving desired behavior.

Understanding what consumers want isn’t the same as taking the driver’s seat. Think about what eliminating unnecessary or frivolous action can do; efficiency then becomes the entire game. The question that needs to be asked is When and where do I allocate the proper resource or action based on data to elicit the desired result? THAT is selling smarter, not harder. That is CXM.

Efficient Communication for Disruption

Basing communications and other actions in time helped lay the foundation for what we know as CRM in automotive. But as our industry continues to evolve, so must we, just like consumers.

Focusing on the important, the here and now, helps us sell cars today. Most dealers are already doing that. But what we are also doing is wasting valuable time, bytes, and money by communicating inefficiently.

We often consider it a numbers game: 12 contacts gets a customer response. In turn, we create processes and allocate resources to contact customers 12 times. Why? Why make that many contacts when four will do? We need to get to the root of the inefficiency.

This is chess, not checkers, and we need to treat it as such. This is where CXM is critical.

A customer goes to your website to book an appointment for service, for example. She also looks at a vehicle. Now she gets retargeted with “specials” on every single website she visits.

Scenario 1) As a millennial, she’ll probably just ignore these. She knows how they got there. Nothing comes from it as she shows up to her service appointment, and now you call, maybe email the next day to ensure she had a “world class experience.” That’s the end of it.

Scenario 2) As a millennial, she’ll probably just ignore these. She knows how they got there. However, Ford has sent her something that lets her know exactly what her financial position is. When she went to that website, a popup substantiated that information … which is exactly what she just saw on Facebook, her email, her p-URL. She shows up and a sales rep reiterates the same message (right message, right communication channel, right time) to elicit the desired result. The extra steps taken for a consistent message can make all the difference.

This is a very basic example of data-driven action within CXM. More so, maintaining a long-term relationship with a customer requires commitment. In the car business, we’re hunters, and we are damn good at it. But farming is what we need to think toward.

A commitment to communicating the right message, at the right time, to the right customer, by the right employee every time helps us to build relationships and cultivate, grow, and serve our business better.


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