Just recently we looked at the future of the car service with Audi in Sydney, and while that had some high-tech features like service staff with iPads, it seems that’s going to be common along the whole ownership experience, from showroom to service with Ford this week unveiling its Future Showroom in Melbourne.
Rolling out in 2015, the showroom of the future features a much-needed physical upgrade, with fresh design, large screens and an all-round modern look.
Add to that uniforms for the staff and you’re not really changing the buyer experience enough to win customers over. However, the benefits are actually in the details.
Ford looks set to take a triage to expert approach, with a host welcoming customers before moving them to a sales rep when the time is right.
If you do make the decision to buy, you get a whole lot more control and clarity around the experience thanks to a complete online customer portal.
Sure, you’re choosing the colour, transmission and options in the showroom, with the Sales rep using an iPad to help you finalise the order. But when the cash is handed over, you can spend the time between ordering and delivery to let Ford know about a few key things to make this car truly your car when you drive it away.
Setup your home address in your online profile and the home location for the Sat Nav system will be preset for you.
Likewise you can choose your favourite radio stations so the presets are all ready to go.
It might sound simple, but it will help a large percentage of buyers who are looking to take the complexity out of the process.
While you wait for the call from your dealer to say the car is ready, you can keep up to date via email – with Ford informing you when you car is being built, when it’s in transit and when it’s in the final stages of delivery.
When the time comes to get the key, you can choose which features you want a detailed run-through of, or which they can skip. And if you’re really after the rock star experience, they’ll cover it in a silk and “reveal” it to you – sure, not for everyone, but another option if you do want it.
After-sale, as we saw with Audi recently, the power goes to the owner, with online bookings, email updates and a personalised walk-through check-in at the service desk with iPad in hand – all pretty logical stuff, which to me feels like the car-industry playing a fast game of catch-up with a world that has moved forward in leaps and bounds to a place where cars are configured and bought online without a dealer visit at all. That’s the real future showroom.