Automotive industry: Strategies for the era of the connected car
A head start with data - electromobility, autonomous driving, and Mobility-as-a-Service are changing our fundamental understanding of mobility. A new white paper by Arvato CRM Solutions presents four strategies that automotive manufacturers can use in the future to support their digital transformation and realign customer experience.
The future is networked – even when driving. Vehicles have more and more sensors they can use to interact with their drivers and other cars or devices (see also Processor Power Instead of PS Power). This opens up numerous opportunities, from which new market participants who are increasingly putting pressure on established manufacturers also want to benefit.
Even if software manufacturers, IT companies, and mobility service providers have an advantage over automobile manufacturers in many areas, production output, brand image, and the dealer network are assets with which established manufacturers can continue to grow. And they still have another important advantage: their relationship with their customers. Nevertheless, manufacturers can’t rest on their laurels. If they want to earn their customers long-term loyalty, customers now need to be the focus of all decisions and efforts. Four strategies can help with this.
Turn data into value
Modern cars generate an enormous amount of data. And this amount is getting larger and larger: the vehicle’s condition, the user’s music preferences or favorite destinations – for a single autonomous vehicle, in just one hour of use, 4,000 gigabytes of data are collected every day. Automotive manufacturers can use this data to create added value for themselves and their customers. For example, they can use this data to design new products or services that improve the driving experience. The data helps to better understand and predict customer needs. Thus, manufacturers can make relevant service offers and optimize the customer journey, from the first search for a new car up to after-sale support and customer retention. Finally, the data can be used by other partners, such as insurance providers, to create tailor-made offers for their own customers. McKinsey estimates that the monetization of vehicle data will generate between 450 and 750 billion dollars in the year 2030.
Optimize the buying process
Digitization isn’t just changing the way vehicles are being used, it’s also changing the buying process. The weekend visit to car dealerships on the search for a new car is becoming more and more obsolete. Manufacturers therefore also need to have a holistic, digital strategy here. According to analysts at Bain, half of potential buyers begin their search for a new vehicle online. The average car buyer switches between online and offline touchpoints about four times during the decision-making phase. And naturally, they expect a consistent customer experience at each of these stages. In order to succeed under such conditions, automotive manufacturers need to address consumers in a much more effective way at the beginning of the buying process, offer them individual support through the entire process, and integrate digital innovations into the customer journey. Virtual showrooms are an example of this, where virtual reality can be used to examine models and furnish them with various equipment or paint jobs at the press of a button. Online configurations have long since become standard, but what happens when, sitting on the couch one evening, a customer spontaneously wants to arrange a test drive? He could contact the manufacturer’s service team directly via video chat, hold his driver’s license up to the camera, and have the test car driven directly to his front door at a certain time.
In order to establish a customer-centric mobility ecosystem, manufacturers need to focus on innovations in the field of smart transport and on platform solutions. This requires partners (distributors, entertainment and e-commerce suppliers, insurance companies, software providers, etc.), because no company has all the necessary competences on their own. The manufacturers with the best partner networks will have a head start on their competitors, provided they make sure from the outset that they don’t let too many areas in the value chain slip away, especially having a direct relationship with customers. Another important aspect is the management and sharing of data between the partners involved. This requires an unprecedented level of cooperation and integration. But it facilitates solutions like a driver-specific dashboard, which provides the driver with information on their e-mobile’s energy consumption, new music suggestions, and special insurance offers at a glance. The traditional manufacturers have the opportunity to stand at the center of this flow of information. This is because, thanks to the ever-stronger networking of modern cars, drivers are getting directly in contact with them for the first time, via concierge services for example. “It’s changing the flow of communication and creating new opportunities to gather and analyze information on driver behavior,” explains Sarah Latsch, Vice President Automotive at Arvato CRM Solutions Germany. This is because data that until now was only available to dealers is now flowing directly to the manufactures.
Offer next-generation service - now
Those who want to make good on the promise of customer focus need to rethink their customer service. And they need to do it now. The market is still evolving, which offers the chance to secure a crucial competitive edge. This means, for example, offering service around the clock. “If consumers can talk to their car 24 hours a day using speech recognition technology, they expect the same from the manufacturer’s customer service,” says Sarah Latsch. “Aside from that, customer support representatives need to be well trained to meet customers’ high demands.” This is because they help drivers with many things, including all problems with their high-tech vehicles.
But this is just one aspect. Service around the clock makes a whole range of communication channels necessary, through which the customer expects fast and accurate help on a wide range of topics. Solutions based on artificial intelligence, chatbots, and self-service solutions that work with speech recognition are going to become more and more important. Beyond that, the individual channels need to be connected into one seamless, omnichannel experience. Utilizing the huge amounts of data generated when using the car to optimize customer service also requires an analytics solution. “If all these topics are combined sensibly, numerous new service packages are conceivable,” Sarah Latsch emphasizes. For instance, if a replacement part is needed, the driver can order it directly via the interface in their car – if a sensor hasn’t long since detected the defective part and automatically ordered a replacement.
The complete white paper “Four customer service strategies for survival in the era of the connected car” can be downloaded here.
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.
Image: chombosan – AdobeStock