A Baby Boomer, a Gen X’er and a Millennial Walk into Your Service Lane …

Sep 04, 2015 | | 15014 |

A Baby Boomer, a Gen X’er and a Millennial Walk into Your Service Lane …

By Justin Sprague

Learn how ePayment options can create a better dealership experience for customers of all generations

Creating a customer experience that is tailored to more than one generation stereotype doesn’t have to be the punchline of a joke. Nearly every article you read these days talks about the dealership of the future – one that creates a seamless customer experience, exactly how they want it.

Well, the future is walking into your dealership today, and we need to be talking about the present. It’s a digital age, and while not everyone can fit nicely into a generation stereotype, a vast majority of consumers seek out a convenient, digital experience. In fact, last year comScore reported that 173 million people in the U.S own a smartphone, making up 72% of mobile users. These consumers are increasingly using their smartphones for more and more daily activities. Going mobile is the norm.

But the crux of the issue among dealerships has been how to give all customers, whose needs and wants can vary widely, their own personalized experience. Having an all-paper dealership may scare off a Millennial, but a totally digital one may mean the loss of a Boomer. So, how can you win?

What may be seen as old school dealership processes can be a comfort to those who like a consistent experience and aren’t looking to revolutionize the way they buy a car. However, there are others – and the numbers are growing – who want something a little more digital and a little more personalized. Some areas of the dealership have made big strides in offering that elusive ideal buying process. Solutions like adaptive websites, menu selling, or the ability for a car owner to schedule service on their own time have all helped make the car buying process less about the dealer and more about the customer empowerment. Digital, Sales, F&I, even Service – they all have jumped onto the personalization bandwagon.

But then, it all comes crashing down once your customer hits the Cashier’s desk. You see, instead of having many different payment options, the cashier’s area only has one, single way – standing in a line, possibly more than one time if you have different Cashier’s desks for different departments, and creating a large paper trail. When done well, this tried-and-true process can work. But often, there’s miscommunication, long lines and a lot of confusion. While waiting in line and dealing with a live person may appeal to some customers, it can also be a turn off to many – regardless of the generation they come from.

Millennials are known for being early adopters of new processes, solutions and technology, but Baby Boomers are becoming more and more tuned into innovations that add value and convenience to their daily lives. Mobile payment programs offer benefits that appeal to both groups, as well as Gen X.

The solution, if you haven’t been able to guess it yet, can be found in one word: options. Offer customers multiple ways to pay – maybe they want to use Apple PayTM or Google WalletTM, or maybe they’d prefer to wait in line at the Cashier’s desk. Your dealership should be giving your customers options around every corner, especially when it comes to payment. Nearly every other industry offers this convenient payment option, and quite frankly, all generations are coming to expect it.

10 years ago, you probably only gave a fleeting thought to highlighting your vehicle inventory online. Today, Google reports that 95% of vehicle shoppers turn to digital channels for research before even stepping foot into your dealership. Not placing your inventory online now feels like a foolish move because it’s something car buyers require. So, there’s an opportunity here – bring the digital experience full circle by offering online payment options in unexpected places, like Service.

Consumers want multi-channel options, so they can pay where and when they want. Denying your customers the freedom to choose how they pay could be a deciding factor in whether or not they continue to return to your store. According to an American Express Survey,, 3 in 5 Americans (59%) would try a new brand or company for a better service experience if you don’t respond to shifts in consumer preferences. If Americans are nearly 60% more likely to change their minds about a company they deal with on a weekly basis, like a new grocery store, due to their preferences, imagine how much more likely they are to abandon a dealership as their Service center after a poor experience. Or worse yet, abandon the dealer group for their next purchase altogether.

Having a digital way to pay doesn’t just benefit customers–dealership employees gain advantages too. Enabling your customers to pay digitally for services means less risk of customer data being mishandled, including employees writing down important and secure information on a decidedly unsecure sticky note. Additionally, having ePayment options aids in the reconciliation of all your payment areas, since they are all going through one, digital system. Digital payments create a digital paper trail for both you and the customer, plus they show just how technologically nimble your dealership can be.

So, be like Burger King and tell customers to “have it your way” with multiple payment options.

Want to pay online, ahead of time? Go for it.

Want a paper receipt post-service? You can have that, too.

By offering different payment options, you can create an experience for customers of any generation, style or preference. And that’s no joke.

Justin Sprague
VP of Product Marketing, CDK Global

Justin has more than 20 years experience with the largest global provider of integrated information technology and digital marketing solutions to the automotive retail industry with nearly $2 billion in annual revenue. Justin has held numerous key positions within CDK including VP Product Management, Strategy, Product Marketing and Sales Enablement.

Justin Sprague