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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Online Auction Customers: Better Support for 2016


When I first began consulting with auto auctions regarding their online initiative, as a regular practice I would audit the customer experience. Many times I found that lane bidders were given the upper-hand when it came to close decisions, and I expressed this concern to several auctioneers who would explain,"When it comes down to it, I'm going to give it to the guy who got up this morning, got in his car, and drove down to the auction."  Even the auctions were discriminatory in that they imposed a fee for purchasing vehicles online, and provided very little in the way of technical assistance during the sale. In fact, most auctions had built a dependency on the technology vendor for end-user support despite the fact that there were many user-related issues that did not stem from the software. The universal perception seemed to be that the Internet provided existing customers the opportunity to be lazy. Some auctions also believed that it was a direct competitor to their lane business. For these reasons, little emphasis had been placed on allocating any further investment or resources towards the Internet as a potential opportunity for a new business segment.
Without question, the adversity towards the Internet stemmed from technology being introduced without the establishment of a revenue-generating, online business model. Simply stated, the cart was put before the horse. Without any guidance, the auctions were left to perceive the Internet as nothing more than a value-add. Basically, it was 'there' if customers wanted to use it, and if we're being completely transparent, in most cases it was a requirement imposed by larger consigners. While I have seen some improvement over the last couple of years, there are still many mountains to climb in this area.
Customer Service is a major artery when it comes to the anatomy of a business, and it is imperative that auctions looking to grow their online segment provide an effective solution for support. The goal of the virtual expansion should be to attract new customers that are not in the geographical proximity to drive to the sale each week. In this endeavor, auctions need to make the effort to learn more about this demographic, and appeal to their level of comfort with regard to participating online. In order to do that, the auction should be collecting data, and structuring an online promotional strategy to funnel customers at a National level. However, this would require more staffing, and a significant marketing budget.
With AuctionVcommerce, auto auctions now have an affordable opportunity to establish a sound online infrastructure complete with customer service, modern support channels, and marketing. The estimated cost for a solitary effort, including the software and personnel would be anywhere from $3,000-$7,000 per month. However, with an AuctionVcommerce Membership, the cost is only $600/month. In addition, AuctionVcommerce has the collective view of nearly allonline auction technology, and actively works with vendors to identify and troubleshoot issues. For auctions using the same technology, this means a preventative approach to sale day catastrophes that could result in the loss of online customers.
The bottom line is that the virtual world has it's own set of rules and requirements for developing online success, and the upcoming generation of Auction Customers are being seduced with technology. AuctionVcommerce is the solution to help Auto Auctions meet the online expectations. If you are an auction interested in becoming a member, or a dealer interested in buying or selling through our network of online auctions, call 855-998-8266 ext 700 for more information.