Why Carma has digital and customer in its DNA

The car buying platform has a relentless pursuit of improving customer experience across the entire online car buying journey

Online dealership, Carma, is working to craft an alternative to buying used cars, placing the customer experience above all else while providing convenience and transparency throughout the process.

Carma’s aim has been to transform every aspect of purchasing a used car consumers find frustrating and make each interaction a positive experience. It wants to counter consumer hesitancy in the online car buying experience and this relentless focus has resulted in healthy growth.  

“We took the opportunity to improve the customer experience for Australians buying used cars by really refining it from buying all the way through to delivery,” said Carma head of sales, Jessica de Vries. “We’ve focused on what the customer is experiencing while searching and purchasing a vehicle. And really underpinning that is having high-quality, high-value vehicles as part of that experience.  

Using an internal voice of customer program, that’s been in place for about a year, Carma is able to analyse the customer car buying experience and feed regular insights directly back into business processes. “All the areas of the business that's connected with our customers,” de Vries told CMO.  

“Whether it's our product team, our sales team, customer finance, support, deliveries who are talking to our customers upon delivery, we bring all the pieces of the puzzle from the operational standpoint to making sure everyone understands the feedback the customer is giving us right now, how they're feeling about our business and our past level of customer service.”  

The overarching philosophy of the business is the customer is at the heart of the operation. “Bringing those conversations into the room where everyone's present is important because it gets us to a point where we can refine our product and benefits to make sure we're always addressing the needs of our customer.”  

Digital in its DNA

With the DNA of an online business, Carma prioritises the digital experience across the entire customer experience. But this also means meeting customers at their point of digital comfort. “The foundation of our business, being an online dealership, is that everything's available for our customers to go through completely as a digital experience from beginning to end,” de Vries explained.  

“We know this is somewhat of a new space, and we have people who adopt early and we just meet them when they've already paid for a car. We also have people who are new to that experience. It's incredibly important we have a digital end-to-end experience, but also, we are dealing with humans. So people are the main focus in delivering that experience.”  

Breaking down the process into its component parts, Carma places importance on interacting with the customer from the time they inquire on a vehicle through to post-delivery, and working to refine not only the product offering but way it engages and helps customers.  

“The goal is to provide an environment they feel safe in because purchasing a car is obviously an experience that's time consuming for most people. And it brings up anxiety and nerves,” de Vries said. “What we're trying to do is to is ask: How do we support our customer through that and provide the pieces of the puzzle that will give them the trust, knowing they're going to have a better experience?”  

Unifying the customer journey back-end  

A recent shift to HubSpot has enabled the brand to bring its sales, support, customer finance and trade-in into one platform. “We’ve brought all those pipelines together to make sure we have that overview and are able to really create more efficiencies and effectiveness,” de Vries said.  

“Nothing really sits alone in our business, so all of the different components work to generate the right experience for customers. We have worked really hard on that.”  

Having all of the different components run in parallel, a sales assistant helping a customer on the phone can help with trade-in information and potentially even provide a valuation and take a deposit to get the ball rolling on the process in one call. As de Vries explained, this process doesn't have to take days or weeks, “If someone’s got a half an hour free at lunchtime, we should be able to get it all done and dusted in that time”.  

The brand is now moving more into brand building, launching its latest campaign and adding sports sponsorship into the mix to drive brand name recognition. The 'Love languages' campaign aims to help consumers to calm the nerves when making the decision to try buying a car online, while also build brand and digital for Carma.  The campaign was produced in partnership with Sydney-based venture studio, UntilNow, and orients creatively around a 'car seeking owner' concept. 

“That familiarity with our brand is a really big part of building trust with customers. If they haven't bought a car online, at least if they'd recognise our logo,” de Vries said.  

“People are coming to us and they're not witnessing our brand for the first time. They're familiar with it. It’s a large purchase and so being that trusted, recognised brand is really important.”    



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