In an industry as competitive as Automotive, finding ways to meet growing customer expectations has never been more critical for CX professionals.
So, how can you better meet these expectations at every step of their journey, and help them navigate speed bumps along the way?
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Deloitte found that only 55 percent of Automotive OEM websites, and 53 percent of dealer websites, met US consumer expectations in 2018. With Cox Automotive reporting that car buyers spend 61 percent of their time online researching and shopping, brands must do what they can to understand the car shoppers as they come to their website.
But only tracking what they do on the site is not enough – CX professionals need a way to contextualize that behavior. They need a way to understand why car shoppers do what they do when they do it, and how their experience could have better.
Here’s a quick look at eight questions Automotive brands should be asking car shoppers coming to their website to better understand the digital Customer Experience (CX) and design positive experiences all along the customer journey.
Overall Satisfaction (a.k.a. Overall Experience) is a must-measure metric in any industry, including Automotive.
Why? Because no matter how you slice and dice your different data sets, you can’t know for sure how car shoppers felt about their site visit as a whole without asking them directly.
We took a detailed look at Overall Satisfaction and its benefits in a previous post (see the "Related Reading" link below). All-in-all, this is a great “compass” metric to help CX professionals in the Automotive industry:
A. Keep their finger on the pulse of car shoppers’ general sentiment with the website
B. Quickly inform internal stakeholders of car shoppers’ overall perceptions over time
C. Guide their analysis, especially when major shifts in this metric are seen for specific visitor segments.
Related Reading: CX Metrics Series: Overall Satisfaction
Every car shopper comes to a website with a goal in mind. Whether it’s to gather information on specific models, get detailed pricing information, learn more about warranties, to name a few – every website visit is driven by a specific purpose.
Looking at what a car shopper does gives hints at what they are looking to do on your website. Asking them directly what their visitor intent is, however, removes any guesswork in that regard.
Plus, being able to categorize sessions based on Visitor Intent (or “Purpose of Visit”) opens the door to more in-depth analyses and comparisons between key visitor segments. For example, how their behaviors differ, if they are navigating your site the way you would expect them to be, and as importantly, whether they are navigating the way you would want them to navigate.
As a complement to Visitor Intent, asking visitors to also confirm their Vehicle of Interest, even their Vehicle Type of Interest, can add even more context to the behavior of those who say they are on the website to gather vehicle or pricing information on specific models.
Related reading: CX Metrics Series: Visitor Intent
A visitor stays on your website for 10 minutes and accesses over a dozen pages on your website. That is the sign of a positive experience, right?
Not necessarily. While it might look like they are having a very engaging session, they might in fact be having trouble finding specific information that they were confident they would be able to see on the website.
Measuring Task Completion can help you clarify this.
In fact, Visitor Intent and Task Completion go hand-in-hand. One tells you what the car shopper was looking to accomplish during their most recent interaction with your brand, and the other confirms if they were successful.
As a follow-up question to those who said they had an unsuccessful visit, you must ask them to clarify what they experienced that led to their lack of success. The insights gleaned from this follow-up question are often very telling, and can often point out easy, high-impact fixes.
Related reading: CX Metrics Series: Task Completion
Buying a car is one of the most significant investments you can make. It can take weeks, even months from the time you start your research to when you put pen to paper.
As reported by Strathcom Media, Google found that the average purchase cycle for a car is 62 days. During this time, 35 days are spent “thinking”, 17 days are spent “researching” and ten days are spent “buying”.
What in-market shoppers need and expect from automakers’ websites or mobile apps can change as they get closer to making their purchase. For example, more high-level vehicle information might suffice in the early stages of their research. However, more in-depth information, including more precise pricing details that give a better idea of the final price, can help car shoppers cross potential vehicles off their list.
Being able to identify just how far away from their purchase online car shoppers are, and being able to associate it with their behavior on the website, can provide value for CX professionals looking to contextualize the behavior of in-market shoppers better.
Related reading: CX Metrics Series: Purchase Horizon
A massive amount of interactions can take place throughout the customer journey before a car shopper can confidently buy a car. One case study reported in Think With Google examined one instance where over 900+ digital interactions were needed, for example.
But not every in-market car shopper coming to the site is very likely intending to buy a vehicle from you (not yet, at least). That might fluctuate over the course of their customer journey. However, by asking in-market car shoppers how likely they are to buy a vehicle from you based on their visit to your website today, this can help give CX professionals a better idea of where they currently stand in the shopper’s consideration set.
Not only that, but it can help them know if the website is doing what they want it to do. Is it helping drive shoppers further along their customer journey? Is it hurting? Is it helping to keep their brand within the shoppers’ consideration set?
CX professionals could also go more granular in this regard based on where shoppers are in their customer journey. For example, by asking shoppers to rate their likelihood to visit a dealership, schedule a test drive or even request a quote. Essentially, their likelihood to become a strong lead.
Image is everything in the Automotive industry. It can have a lot of sway on a car shopper’s final decision, especially when shoppers compare different automakers together on various attributes.
The durability and reliability of older models, the promise of future and concept models, the quality of experience at dealership – countless things can mold a person’s opinion of an Automotive brand.
When it comes to an Automotive brand's website, factors like its content design, the quantity and quality of the information provided, all the way to the detail in the images shown could impact a visitor’s opinion of the brand. As such, it is critical for CX professionals to closely monitor whether their site is representing the brand as well as it should be in the eyes of in-market car shoppers and existing customers alike.
To do this, CX professionals should be asking their website visitors at the end of their session to rate the impact of their visit on their opinion of your brand. Going even further, it can be quite eye-opening for CX professionals and digital marketers to ask visitors to compare how they perceive your brand to other brands they are considering.
Interactive tools play a critical role in the research process of most in-market car shoppers. Car configurators, 360o tools, inventory search, model comparisons, dealer finders – each can play a key role in the car shopping customer journey.
The functionality of these tools is critical to in getting car shoppers to walk into a dealership and move closer to becoming a customer.
In the case of car configurators, for example, these tools provide digital car shoppers with perhaps the best way they can visualize themselves in the car of their dreams. There are several ingredients come into play that can determine if a car shopper sees their use of the tool as a success. To name a few:
1. Ease of use
2. Loading speed
3. Picture quantity and quality
4. Level of detail
5. Ease of comparisons
6. Amount of flexibility to customize
Knowing if a visitor reached the end of the tool is often not enough. At least, not if you are continually looking for ways to improve it. CX professionals should be asking its users to rate their satisfaction with these different key attributes, and also probing them for ways they can improve the tool based on their current needs.
Once a car shopper leaves your website, then what? Will they continue their research on your website at a later date, or go to one of your competitors’ websites? Will they seek out what promotions are available to them, or are they considering scheduling a test drive at their local dealership?
There are many tools that help you determine what car shoppers are interacting with your website right now, but only car shoppers themselves know what they will do next.
Asking customers to confirm their “next steps” helps to alleviate this mystery. It also provides a way for CX professionals to not only quantify what car shoppers will do next, but it gives them the ability to better understand what types of experiences lead to desirable outcomes, and what aspects of the experience they can address to minimize less-than-desirable ones.
Related reading: CX Metrics Series: Next Steps
Voice of the Customer brings context to the car shopping experience
Like how websites provide visitors a glimpse into the heart and soul of an Automotive brand, customer feedback provides Automotive brands a glimpse into the minds of car shoppers. It helps contextualize their experiences – what drives them, how they unfolded and what resulted from them, in ways their behavior alone might not.
The metrics and questions highlighted in this post are just some of the ways CX professionals in the Automotive Industry can benefit from running a Voice of the Customer program on their website and other digital properties. Not to mention, these also open the door to many more avenues to research and analyze the digital Customer Experience across the customer journey even deeper.
Make sure to check out the iperceptions Automotive Solution Guide and learn about just some of the ways iperceptions can help brands in the Automotive industry better understand and improve the Customer Experience across the customer journey.
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