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Data Activation And The Car-Buying Customer Experience

In my last blog — entitled “Opportunities, And Challenges, And Dangers… Oh, My! — I wrote of the ‘journey’ motif. I wrote of Dorothy’s journey in The Wizard of Oz; Dorothy following the Yellow Brick Road. I wrote how Dorothy had to take her journey in order to get herself back to Kansas, a Kansas that she would like, a Kansas that she would appreciate. I likened Dorothy’s journey to my own.

My journey was founding R2 Media, in 2010, and creating a hyper-local, multicultural, omnichannel ad agency in the years since. I followed my path and the journey has been incredibly rewarding. Thinking about my journey got me pondering the past, present and even the future, a bit. Throughout that process, I made an important discovery. What I really created in R2 Media was an agency grounded, deeply, in customer experience. Now, this wasn’t an all-new revelation to me, but the depths to which “the customer experience” has been set into R2 Media’s foundation is significant and I now have a new appreciation of that fact.

Customer experience (CX) has been an important part of marketing for years… generations, in fact. But recently (because of the pandemic and other factors), in retailing in general, and automotive in particular, tech-enabled, data-rich, customer experience has become the main driver. In auto, with data suggesting that a majority of car buyers under the age of 45 are likely to buy their next car online, CX is not only important, it is critical. It is paramount!

This is a big change for car dealers — a huge reorientation — as CX is not a department, it is a mindset. It is, effectively, the driver for every department. Whether we are talking about one-click comparisons of car models, stock availability, or trade in values. Car buyers, today, expect a smooth, superfast digital ecosytem that incorporates all aspects of the relationship without the slightest glitch. Infact, performance in this ecosystem will distinguish one dealership from another given the weight being currently placed on customer experience.

Data and analytics map directly to customer experience and will lead every successful customer experience transformation. There are several buckets of data inside the car dealership. Getting those different buckets to participate in a collaboration is an important part of the CX process. When all the data is working together customers will get the experience they are looking for. For instance, when an auto intender compares a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xE to a Jeep Wrangler 4xE on a dealer’s website and that intender begins to see advertising on the web and on Connected TV for the Grand Cherokee 4xE and the Wrangler 4xE there is cohesion in the experience.

There are challenges when it comes to implementing this type of approach. Often times customer data are siloed in different places and on different platforms, or data are not even tracked. While many organizations attempt to overcome these challenges from the inside, many tap experts in the field to help with their customer experience transformation.

R2 Media, working in conjuntion with its car dealer partners, has built a technology stack to capture and integrate customer data at every touchpoint, the digital touchpoints and the physical touchpoints. It was not easy. But our efforts over the years have put us squarely in the middle of the customer experience process. And the exciting thing about the CX process is that it is continuous, as customer expectations are always changing and evolving.


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