People don't want to feel like they're being stalked. We've all been surfing the web at one point in the day, only to have tailored advertisements appear to us later on. It can be a bit unsettling.
On the other hand, most people in an Amazon-shopping world want their buying experience to be as convenient and frictionless as possible. The same is true for rudimentary tasks such as getting around town and scheduling appointments.
This all applies to a dealership's relationship with customers.
Despite concerns about privacy, customers want dealers to know them better, according to Cox Automotive's recent Technology and Transformation of Retail Study. The study, which surveyed 532 franchised dealerships and 2,032 recent automotive customers over about four weeks last spring, found that 74 percent of consumers think a personalized experience at the dealership is important. That number rises to 87 percent for customers ages 18-24 and to 81 percent for the 25-34 age group.
Personalization can be borne from the vast amounts of data that basically everyone with an Internet connection coughs up regularly. But it can be useful to both dealers and, Cox says, to their customers, when automation and artificial intelligence are used for customer personalization.
Still, most consumers believe the personalization benefits the companies more than it does them. And 58 percent feel personalization technology violates their privacy; 56 percent feel it is "too creepy."
On the other hand, 68 percent of consumers don't mind companies using personalization technology if it improves their overall shopping experience. Particularly relevant to auto retailers: 67 percent of consumers said personalization technology will improve the vehicle buying process, and 63 percent said personalization technology will improve the ownership process.
The bottom line: Consumers don't want companies selling products to them to be creepy, but they do want the buying process to be personalized. As advancements in technology inevitably allow businesses to know their customers better, dealerships should behave like a friend, not like someone who needs a restraining order.