Ellie Cohen, Group Marketing Manager at Citygate Automotive, reveals how the dealership group handles customer inquiries from various channels
Citygate Automotive now represents Skoda, Kia, SEAT, Cupra and Volkswagen, as well as VW Commercial Vehicles. Founded in 2006, the company operates 14 locations across London and the South East. The group juggles and interacts with a variety of car and van requests from private and commercial customers and prospects at multiple stages throughout the buying and ownership journey. We told them how it delivers an omnichannel customer experience despite its mixed customer base and wide geographic spread.
How do you ensure that Citygate customers have an omnichannel experience?
We recently invested in a new digital marketing solution to help us deliver a truly integrated omnichannel experience that gives customers the quality interaction they expect, when and how they want it. Interactions are personalized but, at the same time, every Citygate customer benefits from the same unified brand experience.
Why has Citygatge chosen to invest in digital marketing now?
The group has been monitoring the evolution of the customer journey to see how we can best meet customer needs with the tools available. As any retailer will tell you, customer habits have changed in response to the pandemic and changing technology. We needed to adapt our approach and allow customers to interact in a way that was comfortable for them. Introducing the software when we did helped manage requests during the lockdown, and today it continues to provide prompt responses to every request received.
What digital marketing tools does Citygate use and why?
There is a wide range of digital marketing products on the market that all claim to guarantee more business and satisfy customers, but they are aimed at general retail and not automotive. Buying a car is not the same as buying any other retail product; we wanted a product developed specifically for car dealerships.
We heard about Marketing Delivery from other industry colleagues and did some additional research before contacting them. From the first phone call, it became clear that they knew the challenges we face and how to overcome them. Their key staff have automotive retail experience, so know the pain points and develop their software in-house.
VoiceBox Sales is an automated email-centric communication system that is directly linked to our Dealerweb inquiry management software. We chose to test VoiceBox Sales in six of our sites and received dedicated advice and training, which made it easier to integrate into our daily practice.
How do these tools improve your business?
We’ve been using VoiceBox Sales for six months now, and it became clear early on that it was making a difference. In the first three-month period alone, a significant number of “lost sales” were re-engaged through automated email contact and then made a purchase. These sales simply wouldn’t have happened without it. The ‘personalised and automated’ approach meant that the usual Citygate quality was there for the consumer, but without creating a new burden for the sales staff.
Aren’t your customers frustrated that they’re not dealing with a real person?
They do it again – at the right time. As people go digital, they are increasingly happy to interact through digital channels through more stages of the buying process. Basically, because communications are personalized, they still feel “human” to the consumer, even if they are automated. High open and click-through rates prove that customers are very confident to engage digitally.
How will these tools help Citygate in 2022?
Based on the pilot’s experience, we are confident that there is a benefit for the whole group in the future, this should give the same excellent service to all of our customers and provide our management team with a single view of operational successes and growth opportunities.
The Marketing Delivery software never uses “[email protected]” email addresses, which means that every customer can reply to an email sent by the system. This provides us with invaluable feedback that helps the business improve and enables us to do what we do in the best possible way.
Today’s savvy customers have more choices available to them, and we need to have more impact in a shorter timeframe to grab attention and secure their business. VoiceBox proves essential because we provide a hybrid of digital and “real” interaction and we give the tools to act in the right way at the right time.