The UK now has the second highest average online spend per person in the world, and online retail sales reached £133 billion in 2016, a 16% rise on 2015 and a figure which is forecast to grow again in 2017.
And, with tens of thousands of new cars being supplied by online brokers or by leasing companies directly to companies and consumers, the online revolution has well and truly reached the automotive sector.
One thing all online sales have in common is that the vast majority of sales are undertaken remotely and the supplier never gets to meet the customer.
Customers like Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, Total Motion and GoGreen Leasing all experienced this challenge until they adopted an online customer satisfaction survey product.
For those service providers, the first face-to-face contact with a customer is the driver that delivers their car.
If, for example, the delivery is late or the handover process is poor, then it could impact adversely on their brand’s reputation.
The answer is to gather that feedback on the vehicle handover experience at that time using tools like a smart app, or within 24 hours via a personalised customer feedback invitation email linked to an online questionnaire.
The availability of rapid customer feedback can also directly influence the choice of supply chain partners, with dealers being replaced if they don’t adhere to handover processes.
Determining feedback on the sales experience given to the customer and enabling them to determine whether it adhered to their Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) obligations of selling a car on finance (if selling PCP or PCH in the regulated market) are also both key.
After all, retaining a good relationship with the FCA and adhering to its guidelines is essential for any leasing provider or broker.
My advice is to never limit customer contact to just delivery. Check at least once a year throughout the contract term with your remote customers to retain ownership of the relationship and encourage repeat and additional business.
Online selling is the future. Make sure you ask customers for their opinion. Listen to their feedback and you will breed an army of advocates.
By Paul Turner, chairman of ADP Global Research