Citygate Automotive Interview

Citygate Automotive is a multi-franchise group selling new and used vehicles from SKODA, Kia, SEAT, CUPRA and Volkswagen, plus VW Commercial Vehicles. Established in 2006, the business now operates 14 sites across London and the South East.

With such a diverse portfolio, the Group needs to successfully juggle a variety of car and van enquiries from private and commercial customers and prospects and interact with them at multiple stages throughout the buying and ownership journey. It was clear the Group needed to deliver an omnichannel customer experience despite its mixed customer base and extensive geographic spread.

We interviewed Ellie Cohen, Group Marketing Manager at Citygate Automotive to understand why they chose Marketing Delivery and our portfolio of products.

How do you ensure Citygate’s customers receive an omnichannel experience?

We’ve recently invested in a new digital marketing solution to help us deliver a truly integrated omnichannel experience that gives customers the quality interaction they expect – when and how they want it. Interactions are tailored but, at the same time, each Citygate customer receives the same unified brand experience.

Citygate is an established Group; why has it chosen to invest in digital marketing now?

The Group has been monitoring the changing customer journey to see how we can best meet customer needs with the tools available. As any retailer will tell you, customer habits have changed in response to the pandemic and evolving technology.

We needed to adapt our approach and allow customers to interact in a way that’s comfortable for them. Introducing the software when we did helped to manage enquiries during lockdown, and today, it continues to deliver timely responses to every single enquiry received.

What digital marketing tools does Citygate employ and why?

There is a wide range of digital marketing products on the market that all claim to secure more business and keep customers happy, but they are aimed at general retail, not automotive-specific. Buying a car is not the same as buying any other retail product; we wanted a product developed specifically for car dealers.

We heard about Marketing Delivery from other industry colleagues and did some further research before contacting them. From the first phone call, it became clear that they knew the challenges we face and how to address them. Their key staff have a motor retail background so know the pain points, and they develop their software in-house.

VoiceBox Sales is an automated email-centric communication system that links directly with our Dealerweb enquiry management software. We chose to trial VoiceBox Sales at six of our locations and received dedicated guidance and training, which made it easy to integrate it into our daily practice.

How do these tools enhance your business?

We’ve been using VoiceBox Sales for six months now, and it became clear in the early stages that it was making a difference. In the first three-month period alone, a significant number of ‘lost sales’ were re-engaged through automated email contact and subsequently made a purchase. Those sales simply wouldn’t have happened without it. The ‘personalised / automated’ approach meant the usual Citygate quality was there for the consumer, but without creating a new burden on sales staff.

Don’t your customers get frustrated not dealing with a real person?

They still do – at the right time. As people have become more digitally minded, they are increasingly happy interacting via digital channels through more stages in the buying process. Crucially, because the communications are personalised, they still feel ‘human’ to the consumer even though they are automated. The high open rates and click-throughs prove that customers are very confident to engage digitally.

How do you see these tools helping Citygate in 2022?

Based on the experience of the pilot we are confident there is a benefit across the entire group going forward, this should give the same excellent service to all our customers and provide our management team with a single view of operational successes and opportunities for growth.

Marketing Delivery software never uses ‘noreply@’ email addresses, which means that every customer can reply to an email sent by the system. This provides us with invaluable feedback that helps the business improve and allows us to do what we do in the best way possible.

Today’s digital-savvy customer has more choice available to them, and we have to make more of an impact in a shorter timeframe to grab attention and secure their business. VoiceBox is proving key as we provide a hybrid of digital and ‘real’ interaction and gives us the tools to act in the right way at precisely the right time.