I had a recent experience with buying a beautiful new Chevy Colorado that showed me that much progress has been made to meet the expectations of connected buyers, but also revealed how much remains to be done.
Web Shopping Experience:
I had a great experience with the Chevrolet website and its integration with local dealer sites. From driving a friend’s truck, and from prior experience, I had already decided that I wanted a new Colorado. The Chevrolet website helped me navigate effectively through the many decisions that a new buyer needs to make – particularly for a new pickup. Once I knew exactly which truck I wanted, and in what color, the Chevrolet site then did a good job of searching for local dealers who could sell me one. Unfortunately, a search of my local dealers’ inventory showed me that nobody had the combination of trim, accessories, and color that I was looking for. I was not discouraged though, as the site also made it easy to contact three local dealers to let them know what I was looking for. I was also able to include a note, to say that I was looking for this specific configuration, and that I was ready to buy.
This work was completed on a Sunday evening, and I received confirmation from Chevrolet of the truck I was looking for, and the dealers I had selected. I was very pleased to be contacted by all three local dealers first thing on Monday morning. This is where the opportunities for improvement started to show.
Three Dealers, Three Different Experiences:
All three local dealers started with prompt contacts via both email and text, as I had requested. This is where the breakdowns began:
Breakdown #1: Dealers Waste My Time
All three dealers asked me to re-send the specification for the truck that I was looking for. I re-sent each one the email that Chevrolet had sent me, but why should that be necessary? It was that same Chevrolet website that had helped me identify the dealers that should contact me. I don’t know whether the dealers actually didn’t receive the specification sheet or if they didn’t feel that they could rely on the information? In any case, it was an unnecessary bit of extra work for the customer.
Breakdown#2: Dealer Stuck in the Stone Age
The first dealer contacted me to confirm my information, which I provided. They also confirmed that they did not have the truck I was looking for. I asked Dealer 1 if they would help me either order or locate my truck, and if they would give me a price. Dealer 1 would not do any of this until I agreed to come in to meet the “Truck Specialist.” I confirmed that I already knew exactly what I needed, and that I didn’t need the Specialist. Dealer 1 would not do business with me unless I agreed to waste my time. Dealer 1 was out.
Breakdown#3: Dealer Thinks I’m a Deadbeat
Dealer 2 took my (repeated) information and conducted a search within a 400 mile radius. The closest match was not very close, including $1,500 of features that I did not want. Dealer 2 said that they could order the truck that I wanted, but it would take 10 weeks to arrive. Dealer 2 required a $4,000 deposit to place an order. Further, if I didn’t buy the truck, the deposit would only be refundable if/when the dealer sold the truck. Dealer 2 explained that this large, semi-refundable deposit was required by dealership policy, because the dealerships had been “burned before” by customers ordering what they wanted. Dealer 2 was out.
Breakdown#4: Dealer Gets the Order, but 8 Weeks and more Data Re-entry
Dealer 3 took my information and offered to order a truck with a $500 deposit. I agreed to give Dealer 3 my business and dropped off a check. Amazingly, Dealer 3 told me that the order could not be entered for another 3 days or so. My first question is why the order that I had carefully completed on the Chevrolet website and routed to the selling dealer would have to be re-entered by the same dealer? These two systems aren’t (or can’t be) connected? And the next question is why it should take 8 weeks for a standard order to be processed? This is inconsistent with customer experiences formed by next-day deliveries. It is also inconsistent with the Chevrolet website experience, which guided me to the precise truck that I wanted. The rest of the system needs to be aligned to deliver that specific truck promptly in order to meet connected customer expectations.
How a Connected Shopping Experience should work:
I’m now anxiously awaiting word from my dealer about production and delivery of my new Colorado. Over the next 8 weeks, I hope that I will see Chevrolet take advantage of opportunities that should come with a fully connected production system and a fully connected truck:
- Build Progress: I should be able to track the progress of my order as it slowly moves toward production. I hope to get regular updates and indications of a likely production date.
- Build Verification: Since the truck has a built-in telematics system, I expect to get an email or text from my new truck when it first fires up at the factory! Maybe a report on passing all of the end-of-line tests, showing no faults and readiness to be shipped?
- Order Tracker: That connected truck should also let me track it as it moves from the plant to the dealership, and then text me when it arrives.
- Personalization and Set-Up: Finally, before my truck gets delivered, why not let me input some of my preferences, so they are already loaded when I get in? Let me configure my radio pre-sets, set my preferred temperature, and configure some of the many settings in the infotainment system? I think I’d rather do that on-line before delivery. As an extra benefit, I could learn about all of the truck’s great features while deciding on my preferences. Seems like a better experience and a more efficient process for everybody.
We will see. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to driving that brand-new truck.