Car dealerships remain important

Panoff Consulting was recently able to present its latest study “The Future of Customer Experience”. We have looked at what the touchpoints of the customer experience of the future could look like and what conditions must be created for this.

My colleagues Kristin Hertwig and Mark Schreiner presented the study moderated by Julian Boguschewski on June 29, 2022.

In this impulse we would like to bring one of our findings a little closer to you.

Instead of the car, the focus is on the customer. The customer experience does not run in a fixed sequence but is individual from customer to customer. As can be seen in Fig. 1, OEMs and dealers must create and expand these touchpoints and link them holistically to ensure a continuous customer journey. How can a consistent customer experience be accomplished? How should customer and vehicle data management be designed? How can the interests of dealers and manufacturers be united? What should happen to ensure sustainable change management? These questions concern us in our daily work.

Figure 1: The Future of Customer Experience

The customer experience consists of a multitude of touchpoints. The retailer plays an important role for the customer to perceive the possibilities of these touchpoints. The future trends of “mobility as a service“, digitalization and car dealerships as a “point of experience” are not only motivating OEMs, but also car dealers to redesign their branches. Recent market research has shown that new car customers make an average of 3.3 visits to the dealership before signing a contract. There are also significant differences between age groups. Among the under-30s, the number of car dealership visits is 4.6, while among older people it is only 3.7. This shows us that the dealership still plays an important role in the purchase of a car.

Digitalization and online business must not be forgotten and should be considered when designing a customer experience. Creating the synergy between the offline and online world remains one of the biggest challenges for OEMs and dealers. Most customers begin their search in a web browser and are directed to the retailer’s various online channels via keywords, offers and advertisements. If a request can be generated from this, action must be taken. The customer wants answers in real time. In addition, the location is no longer the only point of contact, but also an online representation of the car dealership, the digital car dealership. This should be a personal consultation that enables the seller to call up the customer profile via an online and offline link before the visit and then respond to inquiries individually during the visit.

The car dealership will continue to exist, but its form will change. We find that the end customer sometimes leaves his own car behind, that doesn’t mean that he drives less. A full 9% increase in kilometers traveled per person in Switzerland from 2000 to 2020 was recorded. The situation is the same in other European countries. In addition to the sale of new and used cars, this trend should be considered by implementing other mobility solutions: shuttle services, car sharing, ride-hailing buses and trains, rental bikes, or e-scooters.

Through the merging of independent car dealerships into car dealership groups, the existing locations become important representatives of the brands. At the same time, a positive and unforgettable experience with the brand and the dealership must be ensured. This can be done through certain facilities, e.g., restaurants, cafes, and day care centers, but also through the sale of accessories and other after-sales products.

To catapult dealerships into the future, novel initiatives must be launched, and you should rely on the strengths of the dealerships. We cannot forget where there is the most potential for retail: the proximity to the customer.

Konstantin Zirkelbach

Arbachstrasse 2d
6340 Inwil / Baar
Schweiz