Among car dealership tech trends, connected cars might be the most promising. With access to a steady stream of auto and user data on their smart devices, dealers could potentially transform the owner/dealer relationship.

One reason is that connected cars will force car dealerships to adopt a new definition of customer loyalty. Traditionally, dealerships have focused on the initial sale, with the hope that the customer likes the vehicle enough to return in five to eight years and buy another one. But that seems very likely to change—and rather quickly too.

The global connected car market is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 33.38 percent between 2015 and 2022, with revenue predicted to break $153 billion by 2022, according to a recent market analysis report. 

Customers will place more weight on the technology available within a car when they are evaluating vehicles, and the experiences they have during ownership are a prime opportunity for dealerships to create a lasting relationship. Success relies on reliability, the variety of technology provided and knowledge of how to use the data connected cars gather.

How this car dealership tech trend is redefining loyalty

Connected cars open some exciting possibilities. With the ability to leverage vehicle data, dealers have the opportunity to extend their brand and develop a closer relationship with the customer. The constant flow of information means they can interact with owners on a regular basis and provide ongoing support and assistance. Thus, they’re able to forge stronger brand affinity, making it more likely customers will return to purchase vehicles from them.

Car shoppers now look at more than what’s under the hood. Connected cars are drawing just as much (if not more) attention to the Internet connection and communications technology available inside a vehicle. Here are three loyalty features to consider.

3 ways connected vehicles increase loyalty

Predictive maintenance: Embedded sensors and hardware in connected cars gather data and monitor the performance of the engine, tires, fluid levels and other parts that undergo general wear and tear. Drivers receive text alerts or push notifications on their smart devices if they need an oil change or if a part isn’t operating as it should. Maintenance can be performed before a break-down actually occurs, saving owners both time and money while also improving safety. As technology advances, over-the-air updates will become available, with dealerships servicing the cars remotely. More dealerships are also using customer-facing apps to integrate vehicle data into the dealership’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. 

The information is used to predict upcoming maintenance appointments. This helps the appropriate staff schedule and order required parts, thus reducing wait times and ensuring repairs are completed on the first visit. Who wouldn’t be loyal to a dealership that keeps your maintenance costs down, provides remote service calls and decreases your wait time when you do need in-person service?

Improved safety: Advanced navigation features in connected vehicles analyze the weather and traffic conditions to guide drivers towards the safest route available. Other safety mechanisms, such as collision notifications, protect drivers and passengers by reducing the number of accidents and associated injuries. When car owners are confident their families are safer through these features, they’re more likely to stick with your brand in the future.

Increased productivity: Connected vehicles allow drivers to accomplish mundane personal tasks while driving, such as replying to emails and transferring money from their bank account. Customers value the extra time they have when they get home for more pleasurable tasks, such as spending time with family. These quality of life improvements increase appreciation and commitment to your dealership and brand. But to deliver, dealerships should ensure they have the right communications solution in place to support a fleet of mobile customers.

How it works: What keeps a connected car running smoothly?

A reliable and secure communications solution is a key selling point for the modern car dealership. No matter how much smart technology is built into a car, the data gathered is useless if it can’t be delivered to the right machines or humans for proper analysis and response. When loyalty is the end goal, dealers can’t afford broken connections between their business and the driver. Dealerships are often seen as a nuisance and an undesirable step in the car-buying process. But with advanced communications technology, they transform themselves into pillars of customer service, personalization and luxury. Crossing your fingers and hoping customers return for a repeat purchase is long gone. Dealerships can become part of the ownership experience and take proactive steps to increase loyalty.

Many car dealerships have turned to Mitel for the communications technology they need to reach the next level. Hear from some of those dealerships here. >

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