Customer Relationship Management was somewhat a side issue for automotive dealerships for many years. But in the face of increasingly fierce competition and the evolution of the car buying process under the impetus of digital technology, the question of CRM has become vital. To meet this need, dealerships can now rely on CRM solutions, i.e. tools used to collect, process and analyse customer data. Enough to invent a new customer relationship?
The management of customer relations: dealerships lagging behind
CRM has become a key issue for dealerships; this was not however always the case. Until the mid-2000s, the automotive sector was dynamic and there was less competition. Car dealership networks did not need to make any particular effort in terms of managing customers and prospects, as the pool of buyers seemed inexhaustible. But from 2008 onwards, the emergence of new players and the decline in the market made the business more competitive. As a result, proper customer relationship management became essential in order to stand out from the other players. The problem was however that CRM was really not up to scratch at the time: According to an Argus study, 50% of requests for an appointment were left unanswered in 2011
Despite this damning finding, practices remained unchanged; indeed, another Argus survey, this time done in 2016, found that 25% of car dealers had still not standardized their customer relations and 35% of leads were still not sufficiently detailed (and were thus difficult to use). However, the digital boom quickly changed everything: with the emergence of “pure player” competition and the evolution of the automotive purchasing process in an all-digital age, dealerships were forced to rapidly evolve their processes in order to adapt to these major changes. All this led to a solution, now seen as indispensable: the development of an organized CRM strategy with dedicated tools.
CRM tools, serving a new customer relationship in dealerships
This was the backdrop to which CRM strategies – understand “customer relationship management” – became more professional. Based on dedicated software, CRM strategies consist of processing and analysing all useful data concerning customers and prospects. What’s at stake? To better target potential buyers, meet their expectations and, consequently, optimize the dealership’s activity. It must be said that CRM tools offer many advantages to dealers to improve customer relationship management.
– A tool with multiple functions: by processing all the available information, the automotive CRM software enables the implementation of tailored marketing actions. In addition, the software automates the management of Sales and After-sales; this frees up time for the dealership to focus on other tasks.
– A better customer knowledge: while data reinvent the customer relationship in the automotive industry, the CRM tool of a dealership centralizes and organizes all customer data (purchases, visits, online activities, etc.). Thus, the dealer has a better knowledge of its target, and, by extension, has a better understanding of the needs of its target.
– A customization solution: for years impersonal and general in nature, dealership communication is becoming more and more personalised thanks to CRM software. Provided the database is deduplicated, a dealership can now tailor its message to the expectations of a small group of similar individuals. This improves the effectiveness of marketing actions.
– Greater customer satisfaction: nowadays, consumers are over-solicited; thus, they want the messages they receive to be specific to their needs. By personalizing the customer relationship, a CRM strategy meets this need and, consequently, improves the level of satisfaction of prospects and buyers.
The essential functionalities of an automotive CRM software
If we want to properly reinvent the customer relationship in the automotive industry, the dealership’s CRM strategy must get things right; specifically, the tools deployed must meet certain requirements in order to be efficient.
– A tool that is easy to adopt: to optimize the dealership’s customer relations, employees must be able to easily use the dedicated tools. If a software is not adapted to the needs of the vendors, for example, it will only be used partially.
– A 360° vision: automotive CRM software should not only centralize customer contact information and purchase history. To be effective, the software must be multi-channel and bring together data that is as varied as it is essential (customer web activity, dealership appointments, after-sales history, listing of customer exchanges, email click rates, etc.).
– For the efficiency of the sales force: automotive CRM software must not only simplify the work of teams (in particular, by better identifying customer expectations), it must also lead to the enhanced management of sales staff. To this end, the CRM tool will, for example, offer a history of the results of each salesperson; thus, the dealer see where improvements could be made.
– In compliance with the regulations: The use of personal data is increasingly regulated; thus, it’s important that the dealership’s CRM solution adapt to changing regulations. At present, the main imperative is to take into account the obligations stemming from the entry into force of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe.
CRM 360: a tool for better automotive customer relations
At IMAWEB, we are convinced that good customer relationship management requires using a tool dedicated to the imperatives of the automotive industry. That’s why we created CRM 360, a CRM software designed specifically for dealerships. This tool puts the customer relationship at the service of the dealership’s activity by standing out in a number of ways:
– synchronization of sales and marketing activities for general actions;
– a software that is easy for vendors to embrace;
– an optimized sales process ;
– a central and deduplicated database;
– compatibility with complementary software solutions, including DataCar DMS.