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The future of automotive retail: Controlling your reputation in an online world where everyone’s an expert

In our last blog about the future of the automotive industry we looked at why it is so important to ensure that digital and physical experiences are merged seamlessly. Here we discuss the ever-greater role that consumers are playing in shaping the reputations of brands and dealers. It is an area that companies cannot afford to lose control of, so it is important to be proactive.

Online reviews and ratings matter hugely to people when it comes to making buying choices, as do the opinions of their friends and family. A Nielsen study found that 83% of people trust personal recommendations by friends and family and 66% trust consumer opinions posted online. Community Facebook pages (every town and village now has at least one), for example, are just one space where people are quick to air their opinions, particularly if they feel they have been treated poorly.

It’s vital that companies keep control of their reputation online. Minimising the areas that tend to be a cause for complaint is the obvious first step. Designing a service with the customer’s needs in mind from the outset is key.

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    There are other elements of the sales process where brands are losing out, including test drives. People can access vehicles through friends, colleagues, and rental companies to spend longer getting the feel of a car than a standard test drive would give them. This is likely to increase. The test drive may be the first touch point that a brand has with a customer and an opportunity to begin building a relationship with them. It is therefore an element that needs to be approached from a customer perspective to provide a simple, comprehensive, and more attractive experience than they can get elsewhere.

    Here at Engine Service Design, we have worked for automotive brands including Jaguar Land Rover, Fiat Group, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Qoros. We have helped them design their future customer service approach to consider all the customer touchpoints and provide an excellent customer experience. It is this experience that will make all the difference to a brand’s longevity in a rapidly changing market.

    Keeping control of your online reputation is not just about avoiding negative reviews. A decent customer experience may make people loyal to a brand, but a great customer experience can make them advocates for the brand. If people receive great customer service, they are more likely to recommend a company to their friends and colleagues without fear of letting them down. Brands need advocates that can be trusted, and their service design should aim to create advocates, not just keep people from complaining.

    In our next blog we will be looking at how the automotive industry needs to approach the challenges that culture change is generating.

    If your company could benefit from the service design process, you have any questions, or would like any further information, please get in touch: we would love to help.

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