Seeing the Customer’s Past, Present, and Future

Today’s customers have expectations from the companies wanting their business. Advances in marketing technology and online retailing have taught them that they can — and should — be treated as individuals. At some level, they want to know that the company remembers their history together.

Amazon, Apple, Target, and other companies make it simple to shop with them by remembering their customers’ preferences and serving them with the products and information they want. These companies understand their customers to the point where they can predict what they’ll need in the future — and the customers appreciate that service. Every demographic, from millennials and younger to baby boomers and beyond, now have that expectation, and the companies that don’t deliver that service don’t gain those customers’ loyalty.

Dealerships have access to massive amounts of data both on their current customers and on those who will be in the market for a new vehicle. By taking advantage of the tools available to make the most of this information, dealers can make a lasting impression, build a relationship, and create a customer for life.

Know Their History

Consumers leave a wealth of information behind them as they go about their daily activities. Their browsing history, their shopping behavior, the actions they take, the actions they don’t take, the times and devices they use to go online, and more all provide clues about the customer’s needs and desires. If you know how to gather and take advantage of this data, you’ll know what they want in a vehicle — sometimes even before they do.

By using artificial intelligence, your dealership can construct an individual profile of each consumer that will tell you exactly where they are in their lifecycle. Are they actively searching for a vehicle, or are they just in the beginning stages of research? Did they just buy a new vehicle, or are they becoming dissatisfied with the vehicle they currently own? Will they need service in the near future? AI will give you the answers to these questions and many more. Once you know this information, you can structure your marketing messages to target their specific situation and contact them in the way that will have the greatest impact – providing them with the ultimate customer experience.

By proactively providing them with information about vehicles that match their needs, your dealership can move them along the path to the sale, even keeping them from shopping your competitors. You’ll maintain better gross margins and they’ll be able to take a shortcut in their journey, getting behind the wheel of a vehicle that matches their needs sooner and with far less stress.

This approach works both for current customers and unsold leads. If a consumer wasn’t ready to buy in a previous interaction, presenting them with a streamlined set of decisions can often make the difference between someone who’s on the fence and a buyer ready to make the deal.

Know Their Current Needs

Once you’ve made the initial sale, it’s time to transition to building the relationship into one that will last. Keeping the lines of communication open is crucial to make your dealership stand out in a sea of competitors. Sending regular, relevant messages to them not only reminds the customer of your dealership but can also put you in the position of “trusted advisor.” You become their dealership.

AI-driven marketing automation will keep this ongoing interaction running, providing the customer with appropriate information, specials, and other topics they’ll find of interest. It will remember the preferences of each consumer and how they wish to be contacted. When a multichannel marketing system is properly employed, the customer will be reminded in a positive way that your dealership is ready to meet their needs, and that they are remembered and appreciated. There are lots of dealerships wanting your customer’s business; make sure they never feel neglected or taken for granted.

Know Their Future Needs

Because of the data you have on each customer, you can foresee when they’ll need service, both for routine and milestone maintenance. You’ll also have a good idea of when they’ll be back in market for a vehicle, either for themselves or a family member. In addition, you’ll be able to detect when they have a lifestyle change — a new baby, retirement, or other special circumstance — and be there for them to address their shifting needs.

By anticipating their future desires and necessities, you’ll set yourself apart from the competition yet again. They’ll feel rewarded for their loyalty, and your sales and service staff will have a customer who already sees the value in your dealership and what it offers.

Make a Great Impression Today

The days of guessing what customers want or using generic ads and offers are over. With the tools available to dealerships, you can predict with a high degree of certainty what offers will move a shopper to become a buyer, and how to keep those buyers coming back to you. You’ll provide better service to them and they’ll become the foundation of your dealership’s long-term success.

Valerie Vallancourt

Vice President of Marketing at Outsell
Valerie Vallancourt

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