Buying a car can be a daunting task. You spend hours researching make and model, trim and colors, not to mention payment options. Finally, you find the perfect car, in the perfect color and a quick search online shows a dealer advertising the vehicle payment at your ideal price point. You click on the ad with the specific finance payment and land on a generic public page. Wait, what just happened? Where is your perfect car with the advertised payment?
I see this happen all too often. Studies show that customers want to negotiate a purchase price, see rebates, specials and incentives, value their trade, and start the buying process online. However, the missing link is providing accurate vehicle payments. While most new car dealers advertise payments in their ads or on their websites, they are typically static ads, with small print, relating to a specific vehicle, with a certain MSRP, and often lead to confusion for both the customer and dealership staff when the customer wants to know the details and how the “special” relates to an actual vehicle in the dealer’s inventory. In other words, there is a disconnect between the monthly payment on the advertised vehicle and what the dealer actually has on hand in inventory. Not only does this create an atmosphere of confusion for the customer and the dealer, it can also lead to a certain level of distrust with the old bait and switch and ultimately lost revenue. The customer experience is left wanting and fragmented.
So, what gives? In today’s world, customers are armed with information aided by technology. In addition, the auto industry is in an unusual position, among major industries, where its product cost, incentives/rebates, and market value information are readily available to its consumers and OEMs & dealers that embrace this fact will win more customers and retain more profit. We are in the information age and it is time for customers in the auto industry to enjoy the car buying experience. Companies such as Tesla and Carvana are proof that the auto industry can deliver a seamless customer experience. If an OEM or dealer can build customer confidence by removing the disconnect surrounding the display of payments on advertisements and corresponding landing pages, customers will give you the opportunity to serve them.
Here are some practical ways OEMs and dealers can eliminate the disconnect
- Include data like incentives and rebates, lender affiliations, dealer pricing and mark up as well as taxes and fees when calculating payments.
- Ensure your advertised offers mirror the offers on your VDP page.
- Deliver a positive customer experience and build trust by ensuring that all advertised offers are consistent and accurate across all customer points.
Technology has changed the customer experience for good. Customers by and large are enjoying frictionless buying experiences across a myriad of other industries. In automotive, technology has changed the product offered. The cars we drive today are not the same cars we drove 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. It’s time for the auto industry to embrace technology not only in manufacturing vehicles but also in delivering a seamless customer experience. OEMs and dealers that embrace the use of technology to eliminate the confusion, the inaccuracy, and the disconnect that exists between the vehicle, the customer, and the monthly payment will be the last ones standing.