CRM at car dealers

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How can you offer your customers in the automotive industry a unique customer journey? Find out here in our article!

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Short and sweet

The car-buying experience has fundamentally changed - customers now prefer to research online rather than taking the time to visit showrooms, and do so long before they even enter a showroom. In addition, customers operate across multiple channels and expect individual, effortless and mobile experiences. Dealers today, in collaboration with OEMs, need to create smart and personalized customer journeys that start before the car purchase and last until the end of the car's ownership lifecycle. 

The basic prerequisite for this - a uniform database

For many car dealers, it is difficult to properly capture customer data across multiple online sales channels, ensure that this information is actionable, and consequently gain a comprehensive view of customers across all sites. It is true that car dealers currently collect a lot of useful information about their customers. However, the full value of this information often remains untapped due to a lack of advanced analytics capabilities. Modern CRM systems solve this problem. 

In addition to uniformly capturing all customer information and interactions, CRM systems in auto dealerships allow you to automate reminders about insurance renewals, vehicle service, new offers/discounts, and more. This reduces micromanagement, increases the accuracy of everyday tasks, and saves time overall. The advanced features of CRM systems also make it possible to proactively identify business opportunities and build trusting customer relationships. In addition, CRM systems enable retailers to implement a well-defined omnichannel strategy to attract more and more loyal customers. By improving the customer experience, the next step is to achieve higher profit margins in sales and after sales. 

We have summarized the current developments in CRM for car dealers for you. 

Long-term customer loyalty through dealer and OEM collaboration

Collaboration between OEMs and dealerships is becoming increasingly important to facilitate the digital shopping experience and build long-term customer loyalty. In many cases, today, the car customer experience is still disjointed - prices and promotions are communicated inconsistently at many dealerships, so OEM and dealer advertising do not achieve synergy. In addition, vehicle configurators found on OEM websites often promise what dealers can't deliver at all. 

Seamlessly transferring customer information from the original equipment manufacturer to the dealership, for example, through a unified CRM platform, enables overarching lead management and improved shopping experiences. On the one hand, with the right CRM processes in place, dealerships get a better overview of what inventory they should have in-house. On the other hand, the leads coming in via OEM channels can be forwarded along with all information (preferences e.g. derived from click behavior on the website, previous communication) to the dealers, who ultimately close the sale. 

Artificial intelligence for car dealer CRM systems

Based on the data collected, modern CRM systems can use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to suggest recommendations for the next most useful step in the customer interaction. The AI also identifies the most relevant products and services for the customer. AI-based CRM thus enables retailers to optimize campaigns and product configurations, as well as pricing and individual customer communication. 

Forward-thinking service thanks to complete customer overview

Service can also be optimized with a suitable software solution. With the appropriate tools, service staff can respond quickly to customer inquiries and offer them comprehensive service across all channels. For example, they can always see which vehicles the customer has purchased and which services he or she has used. This information is available to technicians on the shop floor, as well as to advisors who interact with customers by phone or other channels. Full visibility allows service representatives and technicians to provide customers with attentive and personalized service. For example, if a customer comes into the workshop with a problem, the technician can see directly that the next routine maintenance is due in two weeks. The technician can then offer to bring this service forward, saving the additional trip that would be necessary in two weeks. CRM platforms, such as Salesforce Communities, can also be set up to enable customers to solve simpler cases themselves thanks to self-service functions.

Automated and personalized marketing

Modern marketing solutions, which can be integrated with the CRM system, enable dealers to address their customers with the right message at the right time throughout the entire customer lifecycle. Here, too, collaboration between OEMs and dealers is playing an increasingly important role: consistency and coordinated marketing activities between OEMs and dealers via one platform or networked platforms can minimize misunderstandings and thus increase customer loyalty. 

Excursus - CRM for suppliers

CRM also plays a decisive role for automotive suppliers. A uniform CRM platform, which represents a single source of truth for all data on potential customers and key accounts, enables them to optimize all their processes. Thanks to a unified platform, sales and quotation processes can be accelerated, sales from a wide variety of sources can be better predicted, and customer relationships can be better maintained. For example, lengthy and complex bidding processes can be better addressed by having different departments collaborate efficiently on bidding via one platform. This, in turn, facilitates timely submissions of competitive and high-quality bids. 

Finally, the trend here is also moving increasingly toward networking with OEMs. In the future, the focus will be on using real-time data from the value chain to develop new products.


New technologies are transforming the world of car retailing into a field that is almost unrecognizable to previous generations. To meet the new demands of customers, it is of utmost importance for car dealers today to track all customer interactions and information on a unified platform. This data can and must then be used to offer customers smart and individual customer journeys in collaboration with the OEMs - across all channels and from car purchase to sale or end of life. 

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