The wide-spread impact of COVID-19 has been increasing day-by-day. Many industries have been affected since their issues are not limited to fighting the pandemic but also the economic and social consequences that it might bring.
The Auto Sector, which is the most thoroughly secured industry in the world, is at an all-time low for a few years in India. The crisis has affected at a scale that production factories have shut down due to tumbling sales and demand.
But all is not lost yet. The coronavirus pandemic is likely going to bring some good news to the car manufacturers and dealers in the country. Carmakers like Maruti Suzuki, Toyota, and Tata Motors are all expecting a rise in demand for personal vehicles as it comes out from various consumer surveys that they have conducted.
Apart from new car sales, spokespersons of various car brands in India have mentioned that customers are likely to consider buying certified used cars since it is much more affordable.
The demand for personal transportability will increase since there is an increase in customers’ need to ensure safety. Travel through commercial transport will decrease exponentially, as people are now worried about social distancing, hygiene, and fear of the virus.
A Global Survey conducted by cars.com showed that over 40% of the 3000 survey takers showed declined interest in using public transport and 93% of these people have been using their vehicles more often. 20% of the respondents showed an inclination towards buying new cars.
Specific factors that the Auto Market might adopt to boost their sales:
1. SMS Marketing
During these wary times, SMS Marketing comes as life support to many retailers. The fear of succumbing to the virus had led many showrooms to close. Using SMS to communicate with potential customers is essential until the brick and mortar showrooms are open again. There are various kinds of messages that businesses can convey to the public.
a. Hygienic Practices:
Customers today are worried about getting infected by COVID-19. This fear feeds the peoples’ minds with questions about the brands’ safety and hygiene standards. Communicating messages that show the company’s healthy practices can alleviate these fears.
Providing all the information in an SMS might not be possible but the message can outline certain points. It might include:
b. Operational Messages:
Showrooms can also convey how their day-to-day activities have changed concerning the ongoing pandemic. Doing this builds trust in consumer’s minds to visit the physical showrooms.
Some messages that the marketer can send customers about store operations are:
c. Reminder Messages:
Sending reminders for servicing their vehicle also shows that you value them as a customer and are giving them attention. It makes the customer experience much better with the brand.
d. Messages of Support:
Business Owners can also send in a few words of support to genuinely show that they care about their customers. Since it is a challenging period where many people are losing their loved ones or jobs, a simple yet heartfelt message can make a huge difference.
2. After-Sales Reviews
Vehicle Owners place a significantly high priority on after-sales experience and satisfaction. It, in turn, influences how they perceive the brand and their likeliness to stay loyal to it. With the standards of all car brands increasing by the second, After-Sales Customer Satisfaction can make all the difference.
On average, vehicle owners replace their cars once every five years. Therefore, while deciding their next purchase, unhappy owner experience with the current brand might be a deal-breaker to repurchase from the same brand.
Carmakers need to evolve to grab new opportunities and stay in the competition. The brands must consistently learn from current trends and consumer expectations to reach out to a larger group of people. These ever-evolving consumer expectations can be analyzed by conducting after-sales reviews. SMS grabs the most attention when it comes to messaging. Therefore collecting reviews via SMS sounds the most appropriate.
3. Using Virtual Phone Number and Toll-Free Number
A Virtual Phone Number has no physical phone attached to it. All the calls landing on the number is directed or routed to the customer care agents. A Virtual Phone Number allows two-way communication. Customers will be able to ask their queries to businesses that can resolve their issues.
Businesses can use a single Virtual Number to segment their customers or potential customers into groups and route it to different agents via IVR without any loss. Thus the brand creates a bond with the consumer. Using Virtual Numbers can help customers resolve queries quickly, thereby increasing loyalty to the brand.
Another powerful benefit of using Virtual Numbers is that since it is just like a regular mobile number and not a short code, they can reach international consumers as well.
A Toll-Free Number is a phone number where customers can call without being charged, however long the phone call might last. The significant difference between a Virtual Number and Toll-Free Number is that Virtual Number may or may not charge the customer while Toll-Free Number is free of charge.
In India, Toll-Free numbers commence with 1800. This number provides enormous ROI benefits since it is affordable to the customers.
The automotive industry can leverage the Toll-Free number feature for brand building, higher response rates, and leads.
In terms of Brand Building, Toll-Free numbers help:
Customers do not have to go through a painful ordeal to reach the business when in need if companies use a Toll-Free number. The easier it is for customers to resolve their issues, the higher the customer satisfaction is.
Adding a Toll-Free Number into a business makes it seem more credible. It adds extra pointers in reliability with the customers.
The calls landed via the Toll-Free number are tracked and recorded. The recordings are helpful while conducting an analysis or survey.
The “new normal” post-pandemic is going to bring different challenges and, with it, various opportunities. Customers visiting the Physical Showrooms might slow down. But all these changes are not going to be long-term.
Once the COVID-19 vaccine is out, everything will go back to the way it was as far as the automobile industry is concerned. There could be significant changes in trends like an inclination towards EVs. However, there is an expected rise in the sales of cars during festive seasons in 2020.