The sales agent walks around the brightly lit showroom, chatting excitedly as he shows off the Hyundai Kona Electric. He opens a door, ducks into the car and demonstrates its innovative interior features. He lifts the hood and motions his hand to give the customer a look at the engine, then pops open a slot on the front to show how to charge the cutting-edge electric car.
It’s a familiar car buying script with all the elements of a typical visit to a dealership – except the customer isn’t in the showroom.
This shopper is visiting Hyundai Germany’s digital showroom, an experience enabled through live video chat technology from Vee24. From her own home, she enters the 4,000 square foot, Eldenfeld-based showroom for a personal tour of and conversation with a trained, knowledgeable agent on the car of her choice.
The platform, launched in February, was originally envisioned as a way to augment the capabilities of local dealerships by providing longer hours and greater convenience at a time when consumers were visiting only one or two dealerships to make their final choice. But when the pandemic hit, the demand and necessity for outstanding digital shopping experiences soared. Hyundai Germany was prepared to provide a socially distant, yet personal online car buying experience that paved the way to make each subsequent step of the buying process safer.
Hyundai Germany’s showroom features four models at a time, rotated according to timeliness and demand. Each is presented in its own area with high definition cameras mounted on the walls to show the car from several angles. The agent can seamlessly switch from these powerful cameras to their hand-held iPhone mounted on a Gimbal to get inside and close up to the car showing whatever the customer asks to see. The agent can even switch back to the laptop to co-browse through feature lists while maintaining the video chat. All of this is streamed to the customer, who is also visible on screen and can chat in real time with the agent. On average, the agent spends about 17 minutes with each potential customer. Hyundai also offers pre-scheduled webinars throughout the week that provide a walk through of the vehicle. Interested customers still get an in-showroom experience even if they aren’t ready to engage one-on-one with an agent.
With a lot of the legwork that typically takes places in-person complete, those highly qualified leads are passed to local dealerships, to book test drives and engage only serious shoppers in-person.
And it’s working. Nearly 100,000 visitors have visited the Hyundai site through mid-June, and Hyundai Germany’s sales leader reports that in a very short amount of time they were able to engage hundreds of potential customers online and keep highly qualified leads – customers ready to book appointments at local dealerships and test drive specific models – moving through the pipeline.
With these early successes, Hyundai Germany can scale the live engagement platform to include the many other, typically in-person, experiences that go along with buying a car, such as financing discussions. This limits the amount of time spent in-person to ensure safer customer interactions.
In this global pandemic, finding virtual ways to support the purchase of items that at some point traditionally require face-to-face contact is crucial. Hyundai Germany is showing that customers can still connect with real, knowledgeable agents to guide a major purchasing decision, safely and comfortably under the stresses, pressures and restrictions born of the pandemic. In such a way, they’re building trust with customers that creates lasting brand loyalty.
As Hyundai thinks faster and is more future-oriented than many established brands in bringing a portfolio of future-drive, hybrid and hydrogen vehicles to market, it is also innovating in how it engages with customers and advances the car buying experience to new levels of convenience and success.