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Июль 2011

The changing car customer journey

Three things recently coincided to make me think about whether the way that car brands manage the customer journey is still effective for everyone:

  • I bought a car after a lot of research on the internet but only one visit to a dealer
  • I read a research summary that said that the old retail maxim that 70% of purchases were made in-store is defunct. 83% of shoppers now claim to make the purchase decision before visiting a store
  • A senior US car client told me that customers used to visit dealers on average over six times before buying, now it's close to just once

So it would seem that a growing number of customers (me included) are now happy to buy cars in a different way. Online research plus car reviews in magazines or social media are replacing dealer visits and most of my research was done well outside normal dealer opening hours.

But the actual customer journey didn't reflect any of this and was configured around the old way of thinking. The dealer's salesman wanted to tell me things that I already knew from the manufacturer's website but couldn't tell me things I wanted to know from him (service intervals, service costs). There was no recognition that the most important part of my potential relationship with him was not the sale but after the sale. The old-school divisions between manufacturer and dealer, between sales and aftersales were still very evident and the brand experience didn't look at all seamless to me. Time for change?

Randy Weeks
UK Managing Director, Palmer Hargreaves

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