When we talk about millennials and newer generations in general, it is easy to imagine people who do not yet have significant buying power and aren’t terribly relevant to a company’s strategy. It is an easy mistake to make and can cause companies to ignore trends that end up affecting their sales.
A good example is an automotive industry. Selling cars is not easy, there is a lot of competition, and getting a person’s attention can be challenging. As consequence car dealers often adopt relatively aggressive sales tactics with any clients that walk into their showrooms. It is a tried and true method, but in a world where newer generations prefer to avoid interactions with salespeople it can backfire.
Who are millennials?
Millennials are a generation of people who have grown up with the internet. Today they are between 23 and 38 years old and well into a “car buying” age. What really makes them different is their way of seeking information and communicating with the world.
They are a group of users that is less comfortable seeking the assistance of salespeople and often actively avoid it. Pressure tactics often backfire with this group and the best strategy tends to be one based on making information available to them in their preferred communication channels.
Today, the most popular of these channels are messaging apps. Depending on the region the dominant player will vary but, overall, this category dominates the communication scene and is quickly replacing social media in terms of importance. Apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, or Facebook Messenger boast very high penetration and usage rates across age ranges and are especially high with millennials and younger generations.
How messaging apps can help you sell
The great advantage of messaging apps is that conversations can be largely automated by using chatbots. Chatbots have many advantages, they never get tired, can hold multiple conversations at the same time, work 24/7 and be significantly cheaper than a traditional workforce.
If a company wishes, they can also work in tandem with a human sales team, with the chatbot providing 24/7 coverage, answering common questions, and pre-qualifying leads, with the sales team, only intervening to close the deal or answer unusual questions.
There are many types of chatbots that offer an almost unlimited array of possibilities to help companies improve their operations and reach more customers. To help you identify these opportunities and navigate this complex world we have put together a great team that will be more than happy to speak to you. Reach out to them using the contact link below:
How many questions do you need to ask before buying a car? We don’t know the actual answer, but if the questions received by automotive companies and auto traders are any indication, the answer is clearly “a lot”. After all, cars are expensive and the decision to buy one is not taken lightly.
Competition in the market is intense for both new and used cars and happens on many fronts, from price and performance to the image and status that a car can give its driver. To keep up, car dealers and manufacturers invest heavily in marketing and sales and are always on the lookout for new ideas.
An interesting trend
One of the most promising areas for the future is conversational commerce, a form of e-commerce, that leverages messaging apps to connect with consumers. The trend emerged together with the rise of messaging apps and seems destined to remain with us for the foreseeable future.
The first signs of it came from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter where users started to message companies for all sorts of things, from customer service to product information and problems with the purchase process. The trend later extends to messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat.
Companies started to cope by offering customer service, but over time the line between functions has started to blur, and today we are seeing the emergence of a form of commerce based largely on conversations.
How to exploit conversational commerce
In industries like travel that receive a lot of customer service messages, conversational commerce is relatively easy to exploit since companies are already used to dealing with large volumes of messages and users need little incentive to reach out.
For the automotive industry, the situation is a bit more complex because customers are less used to message this kind of companies and there is a need to create excuses that can start a new interaction. Chatbots can be a key piece of the puzzle, thanks to their ability to engage users and handle large volumes of conversations 24/7.
Smart marketers can build campaigns that require users to interact with chatbots. Once a conversation is started the bot can learn more about the person it is interacting with, and use the data to create market intelligence and follow up with the user at a later stage.
The possibilities are endless and the perfect solution for each company will depend on its unique mix of local conditions, corporate culture, and brand image. To find out how you can get started, reach out to our team using the contact link below.
Can love be rekindled? Or, to say it in a less romantic way, can you squeeze more money out of a customer? In April, we wrote an article on the topic that gave a simple answer “if you don’t ask, you will never know”. In the wake of it, some asked if the same logic could apply to big-ticket purchases like cars.
The answer is a resounding yes, but before we get there we should build some suspense and take time to analyze the issue. We’ll use the car industry as a reference point. Purchasing a car, for most people, is not only a significant financial investment but also an emotional one. Cars are something that goes beyond the mere utility of the object and strays into a way to express our personality, and space where we spend a significant amount of time.
Emotionally, the connection between the car and its owner is strong, but the relationship itself can be a strained one especially when there are mechanical problems to fix or installments to pay. The consequence, from a marketing perspective, is that the purchase decision is not made rationally. It is the result of the emotional perception of the car that has been built by messages coming from people around us, friends, family, and influencers big and small.
Relationships require communication
It is in the manufacturer’s best interest to make the relationship between the owner and its car is as positive as possible to ensure both a repeat purchase and good recommendations. This relationship, like any relationship, requires communication. Ideally a two-way, caring, type of communication, not a one-way, sales marketing-newsletter type.
The goal should be to listen to the clients, solving problems wherever possible, and ensuring the brand stays at the top of mind when things are going well. Depending on the company’s business model, this type of listening work will also lead to the sale of additional services like checkups, repairs, or upgrades, but it should not be the main goal of the communication.
Clients should feel that the company cares about them and checks-in with them every once in a while, in a non-pushy, non-sales way. This communication should preferably take place on a platform, like a messaging app, that the client uses every and where they are used to receiving messages from friends, family, and business partners.
A numbers game
The challenge in this process is, of course, scale. Car companies have hundreds of thousands of customers and hiring people to talk to all of them would be simply unfeasible. Thankfully, today’s technology offers us a great tool in the form of chatbots and artificial intelligence. A well-designed custom system will be able to do most of the work by itself, checking in on customers, providing useful information, and only escalating the issue to a human being when necessary.
If programmed to use external sources the chatbot could also use the information to provide specialist advice or warning to drivers. Think, for example, of a chatbot that is able to monitor the internet for unusual weather events and give warnings on the state of the roads, perhaps remaining them of enabling a certain setting on the car or put on tire-chains ahead of a snowstorm.
The possibilities are endless, and it is important to conduct a thorough analysis of the business and its customers to develop the best custom-designed chatbot for each company. To help you get started we have put together a team of experts that will be more than happy to assess your situation and provide advice free of charge. To reach out to them please use the contact link below.
Car rentals are an extremely competitive business where the customer acquisition process is often tied to OTAs or integrators that package up the service and charge commissions. It is also a business where a lot of things happen at the last minute and can change even after the customer has picked up the car.
As a consequence car rental companies end up spending a lot of money acquiring customers and dealing with customer service issues. To help them we have identified two key areas of opportunity that could be exploited by using custom-built chatbots and artificial intelligence.
Reducing friction matters
The first one has to do with the concept of friction. Studies commissioned by tech companies like Facebook are pointing towards the rise of convenience as a key decision factor in purchases. They argue that as mobile phones and technology make it easier and easier to find information and buy things, consumers are becoming less tolerant towards friction in the purchase process and that a single positive low-friction experience with a brand can often raise a consumer’s expectation forever.
This means that the company that can offer the lowest friction purchase system has a significant advantage, especially when the purchase is relatively last minute. Companies like Domino’s Pizza have taken full advantage of this concept and used chatbots to make ordering pizza as easy as sending a single pizza emoji via WhatsApp.
We believe that in the car-rental world, there is a significant opportunity to bypass at least some of the integrators, OTAs, and their commissions by allowing users to book their cars via messaging apps like WhatsApp. Of course, the transaction wouldn’t be as simple as Domino’s and its Pizza emoji but a well-designed custom-built chatbot could easily complete the transaction and payment with just a few messages.
Better experiences lead to more business
This would create an experience with far less friction than a dedicated app or a search on a comparison site. In fact, for some business people, it would take the same amount of effort as messaging their own personal assistant, with the significant advantage that the transaction would be immediate. Moreover, the car rental company could easily become the customer’s default option by being present on their WhatsApp constant list and therefore easily accessible and constantly on the top of mind.
The same channel and bot could also be used by the car rental company to provide customer service, help users navigate their way through an airport to find the company’s desk, make last-minute changes or even inform users of problems like strikes or road closures that could affect the timely return or pick up of the car.
Using the chatbot in this way would allow the company to unlock the second area of opportunity: improved customer experience, and the associated increase in brand loyalty and likelihood of purchase. Of course, for this to work the solution cannot be an off-the-shelf one. Each company is unique and a good chatbot is designed to fit its unique brand, competitive environment, local user preferences, and interface well with the company’s ERP and CRMs.
To help you discover the right solution for your company, we have decided to make our team of experts available to you for free. You can reach out to them by using the link below.
WhatsApp’s users opened the app an average of 23 times a day. If we assume that they don’t use the app in their sleep this means that it is being opened more than once every hour. Simple stats like this are signals of a much bigger shift towards message-based conversations, which is especially evident in younger demographics.
This shift is significant for the automotive industry because many of the traditional, in-person sales tactics no longer work with younger generations. Millennials are people that have grown up with the internet and are often assumed to be a generation of young kids that aren’t yet affecting the market, but in reality, today, they are between 23 and 38 years old and well into a “car buying” age.
Young people prefer online interactions
They are a generation that is less comfortable asking for information in person or on the phone than their predecessors and are often driven away by the type of in-person pitches that are so common in car sales. They are used to the internet, and the ability to sit at home and search for what they need, with no pressure and an often instant feedback loop between the moment they have a question and the moment they find or receive the answer.
Car dealers are having to adapt to this new demographic and have started using WhatsApp and other messaging apps to talk to their customers. The challenge, however, comes from that instant feedback loop we just described. Young audiences are used to get information and answers whenever they want and wherever they want. Car salespeople, on the other hand, are human beings and have working hours, sleep, and other commitments that limit their ability to answer messages.
To make matters worse there’s also often a mismatch between the time when people seek information and the time when salespeople are at work. This is because both salespeople and customers follow the same working hours, and customers tend to message when they (and the sales team) are not at work.
How to address the challenge
Dealing with this mismatch can be challenging for car dealers. They could hire more sales staff to handle the questions but that would raise costs and make it harder to keep the business running, and rising fixed costs is never an attractive proposition.
A better alternative is leveraging technology, using automation and chatbots to answer questions and gather data on what the client is interested in. Once the initial questions are answered and the data on the customer’s interest is added to the company’s CRM it becomes easy for a salesperson to continue the conversation when they are back in the office.
Technology has evolved fast, and today we have an almost endless array of options to choose from when setting up a chatbot. To guide you and help you understand it better we have put together an experienced team that will analyze your company’s situation free of charge and finds the best solution. Get in touch with them!