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Written by Cristian Petschen
on August 06, 2020

We're excited to highlight the inspiring customer experience work of a recent automotive dealership group that represents Mercedes-Benz. A large automotive dealership group with several Mercedes Benz locations recently kicked off one of the most customer-centric TABLE projects we’ve seen to date. It’s been inspiring to work alongside their team and see how their focus on customer experience led them to TABLE, and the many customer journey touch-points we plan to improve together in the coming months.

We want to share a few of these great ideas to help automotive dealerships and similar companies looking to improve their customer experiences.

Like many, this group’s business was impacted by COVID-19, but prior to March they were already planning to overhaul their customer experience across their digital marketing, showroom, and even in the cars. When customers stopped coming to the showroom for a couple of months, they seized the opportunity to adopt a new solution. That’s when they found TABLE.

The range of customer experience use cases tied into this one project is inspiring to us at TABLE. Their ambitions were so high that they had a hard time finding the ideal solution that matched their needs - a platform that fit in their physical and digital worlds with both prospects and lifelong customers.

  • To start, they looked in the places they were already familiar with, but were left wanting more.
  • The team evaluated tools for automotive dealerships, but they lacked the ability to be seamless. They were designed to recreate the showroom experience on their website and were not suitable for building lifelong customers and providing great experiences in multiple context-specific ways.
  • Traditional software for sales and customer service did not fit the mold, either, which are focused on agent productivity and not flexible enough to support multiple customer experiences throughout their entire customer journey. They also found that most chat tools were limited to their website, and they wanted something that could be launched anywhere, including any digital media and in real life.

Both of these options were very standardized, but the relationships that Mercedes-Benz dealers have with their customers is much more personal and professional. It requires flexibility, and being able to meet their customer’s needs in new ways.

Coming up empty handed, a close friend of the General Manager recommended they look at TABLE. After a thorough evaluation and comparison to their top choices, they chose TABLE for a number of reasons we’ll cover below.

Let’s run through just a handful of the ways this dealership group is overhauling their customer experience using TABLE.

A Better Website Experience

Engaging website visitors is a key part of any lead generating strategy, especially with high-ticket items like cars. But there’s a fine line between bothering your visitors, and being there when they need it most. This dealer group wanted to make a few key experiences much better by removing unnecessary steps, especially contact forms, and provide answers even when business hours were closed.

Eliminate Forms and Connect in Real-Time

One of the most important steps in the buyer’s journey is the test drive. Today, just walking into a dealership for a test drive isn’t as easy of a task anymore. Now customers have to fill out a form with many details, identify the model from a long list and wait to hear back from a rep. This process was time consuming for both parties, and created a big drop-off of prospects who never filled out the form, or never replied to the sales consultant for a test drive. Today, customers viewing a car online can schedule a test drive in just a few clicks, resulting in better conversion and customer experience.

Context-specific Live Chat

A generic chat widget does not engage customers very well. In fact, it’ll likely turn them away. This dealer group wanted to provide specific experiences on specific cars and webpages, with options to connect website visitors with a team member, learn more about a car, and get help after business hours. Imagine that … a unique chat experience for each car on the website!

Seamless Conversation History

Customers today use multiple devices and channels to connect with businesses, but the conversation thread easily gets lost. This dealer group wanted a way to keep the conversation going, from first contact on the website, to final paperwork in the showroom, and beyond.  They were inspired by TABLE’s conversational interface that captured all conversations with a customer no matter how they wanted to communicate from anywhere, anytime.

Advertising and Promotion

Dealerships spend a lot of time and money on print and digital marketing, but this dealer group found that the real opportunity was making it easier for prospects to start the conversation with their team. Once a customer engaged with a team member, they were impressed with the speed and quality of service and, therefore, more likely to purchase. How to connect those two things (ads and quality sales reps) required some changes.

Digital Ads

This dealer group wanted context-specific, even AD-SPECIFIC experiences to launch right away so potential customers could learn more about the car, schedule an appointment, or chat with a sales team member in real time. The point they were trying to make is clear: “We’ve done a great job with marketing and remarketing, let’s make it incredibly easy to start a conversation with our talented team.”

Print Ads and Media

Targeted print media are used to generate awareness, but not so much traffic to the site. But now that QR codes are accessible on every phone (just open the camera on your smartphone and scan a QR code), this group knew they would see a high return on print marketing if they could reduce the steps to get someone to their site using QR code marketing. These are being used in mailings, brochures, and even on the vehicles themselves instantly connect from print to a digital experience.

Personal Connections

Selling luxury cars is a relationship business and good reps have personal connections with their clients. This dealer knows that messaging is the best way to connect so they are integrating multiple channels like QR Codes, WhatsApp, and SMS numbers on business cards so customers can access their team the want they want to. These channels are all connected with TABLE, so they can be accessed 24/7 by the reps or an automated scheduling assistant if the rep isn’t available.

You’d think we were done, but the interesting stuff is still taking shape. Consider that this dealership is aiming to be a ‘dealer for life’ and to do that, you have to connect the customers AND the car with the dealership.

Customer Experience In the Vehicles

As a software company, we are no stranger to bold ideas and some of our customers use TABLE in fascinating ways. But we just loved some of these ideas to be used in the cars.

QR Codes

Continuing with QR Codes, the company plans to use car-specific codes attached to windshields or the manuals in the glovebox. In a moment, a customer can scan the code and be routed to a help screen for talking to a rep, scheduling a maintenance appointment, or more. We tried it out. A driver can book a maintenance appointment, or respond to an automated service reminder in under 10 seconds.

Automated Service Appointments

Service management software includes maintenance schedules and calendars, but the system is almost always siloed from the other DMS tools and customer conversation history.
Basic information like how long someone has been a customer or how many cars they purchased in the past doesn’t appear next to ‘when is their next appointment’.

So when a service reminder gets sent out to a customer with an older model, or a long history with the company, they wanted to make sure that additional information was included.
“While here for your next service on Thursday, we’d love to show you the 2021 model and offer a test drive. Just reply Yes and we’ll have one waiting for you.”

I own a car that I bought from a quality dealership known for their great service and I can assure you that I am not getting this kind of support. It takes a forward thinking company to align their internal operations, customer data, and software systems to operate at this level.

In-Car Infotainment

For our engineering team, this is the fun part. Connecting TABLE Live Chat and dealer concierge directly in the User Experience Infotainment system. This conversation went all the way to MB itself and is still just a concept, but we couldn’t be more impressed with how our dealer group customer was driving an initiative like this that rolled up all the way to MB itself. Of course, we’ll keep you informed of the progress here.

That concludes all that we can publicly share from this customer. We’d love to show you how just one or two of these ideas would have a huge impact on your dealership's customer experiences across the shopping, buying, ownership, and DRIVING experience.

Connect with our team to learn more.

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