Rapid advancements in interpersonal technology, such as smartphones and the integration of cameras on laptops, have created real differences in the way people build relationships -- even at car dealerships.
Enter Oktium, an online and in-store technology product that allows customers to enter a dealership without stepping foot near a sharklike salesperson.
"Some people don't want to go to the dealership because they don't want to get attacked by people they don't know," Anna Young, district manager of Oktium, told Mega Dealer News. "We bring the human connection back."
The product works very similarly to technology like FaceTime or Skype, which many people already use. Dealerships download Oktium's Face2 widget onto their website, and when customers have questions about a car they can click on it and automatically connect with a salesperson on the showroom floor.
"It's not a secret that in the car business, salespeople stand around for hours and complain about life," Young said. Young says this connection makes the customer more inclined to visit the dealership because they've already built a relationship with a salesperson. Customers can ask questions or take a mobile tour of the dealership from the privacy of their home. They don't even have to show their face at first, either.
"The customer can choose just how much information they want to share with the salesperson," Young said. "The salesperson can request their phone number, and the customer can accept or decline."
The same goes for the customer's email address and so on. Each call starts as audio only, putting the customer in control of the information shared during the conversation.
Currently, Oktium is working with a few dealerships in New York, but Young says the product is for everyone. Two dealerships they're working with are White Plains Lincoln and Yonkers Automall.