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Automotive customer experience

Automotive Customer Experience – Importance of Automotive Customer Engagement

Uthaman Bakthikrishnan

Uthaman Bakthikrishnan

Executive Vice President

Why are we talking about the automotive industry separately?

The automotive industry is different from other industries because these are high-value B2C purchases. Hence, the automotive customer engagement here differs from that of the other industries.

Customer experience in the automotive industry involves purchasing and owning a vehicle, including researching and choosing a car, negotiating the purchase, financing, servicing, maintaining the vehicle, and eventually trading it in or selling it.

What are the Factors Affecting Automotive Customer Experience?

  1. The purchase of a vehicle is a significant financial investment, so that customers may be more concerned about the long-term value and reliability of the product
  2. The automotive industry involves a complex supply chain and distribution network, which can affect the availability of vehicles and the speed of delivery
  3. Vehicles require ongoing maintenance and servicing, which can be a significant factor in customer experience
  4. The automotive industry often relies heavily on dealerships for sales and service, so the customer experience can vary depending on the individual dealership. The customer experience here includes everything from the initial sales process to financing and insurance options to the availability of test drives and other resources to help customers make informed decisions. Dealerships that provide a seamless and convenient customer service experience will be better able to attract and retain customers.
  5. Vehicles are subject to recalls and other safety issues, which can significantly impact the customer experience
  6. The automotive industry is subject to changing customer trends and preferences, so companies must be able to adapt quickly to stay competitive
  7. The process of purchasing a vehicle can be complex, with many options and variables to consider, which can be overwhelming for some customers
  8. The automotive industry is regulated by various government agencies, which can affect the customer experience in terms of safety, emissions, and issues
  9. The automotive industry is highly competitive, so companies must differentiate themselves and deliver a superior customer experience to attract and retain customers.
  10. The customer experience may be impacted by factors such as the convenience and efficiency of the purchasing process, the availability of financing options, and the overall brand reputation of the automotive industry. For example, customers may be more likely to purchase a vehicle from a company with a strong reputation for innovation and sustainability.

Now that we have understood how customer experience in the automotive industry is different and complex compared to other sectors, let us look at why it is important and what you should do to make it the best possible experience.

Importance of the Automotive Customer Engagement

Customer engagement is important in the automotive industry because it can significantly impact customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and advocacy.

Let me ask you a question.

When was the last time you bought a car without talking to friends and family about reliability, performance, comfort, and pricing?

If I am not wrong, you would have spoken to multiple people multiple times.

There lies the importance of automotive customer engagement.

Companies that consistently deliver high-quality products, excellent service, support, and a convenient and efficient customer service experience will be better positioned to succeed in a highly competitive market.

This would include leveraging technology to create new and innovative ways of interacting with customers, like having multiple channels:

  • Online car-buying platforms
  • Feature comparisons between different models & variants
  • Availability of easy financing options online and at the dealerships
  • Service and maintenance coordination – call, chat, SMS, and voice messaging
  • Service pickup and drop coordination
  • Availability of resources to answer technical queries, arrange for emergency pickups, and on-road assistance
  • Connected dealer and service networks across the width and breadth of the country

Another important aspect that technology can help address is the availability of after-sales service and support.

This includes everything from regular maintenance and repairs to recalls and other safety issues.

Customers expect to be able to access service and support when they need it quickly, and they hope this support to be provided promptly and professionally.

Let us assume you are available on call, email, SMS, chat, mobile apps, web apps, and social messaging 24×7.

Wouldn’t your customers love you for that?

Most often, people ask this question, how do I staff all of the channels?

You don’t have to when you have all of these channels integrated, and your agent can access customer interactions across channels through a single interface. You would still be able to address their needs with a single interface.

Companies that can deliver high-quality service and support consistently will be better able to build customer loyalty and satisfaction.

How to Improve Automotive Customer Journey?

Car buyers are savvier and more knowledgeable today than they were ever before. They do their due diligence before visiting the dealership.

Research indicates that buyers in 2022 spent an average of 7 months researching their options compared to 2.7 months in 2017.

They spend a lot of time reading reviews and ratings, including the features, performance, purchase process, and after-sales service. Even one negative deters them from engaging with the brand.

So, investing and ensuring a high-quality customer experience is critical to attracting and retaining customers.

1. Analytics Is the Key

Track and understand each touchpoint in the customer journey – online and offline.

See if they are progressing to the natural next step. For instance, when someone browses through the models and variants of the car online or offline, do they sign up for a test drive?

Many call dealerships to inquire about the availability of models, test drive schedules, delivery timelines, and the like. The analytics here will have to be captured besides the online and dealership analytics.

Capturing analytics would make us understand the friction points.

You can start working on removing or reducing customer friction for a seamless customer experience.

2. Omnichannel

Capture every customer interaction across your channels and make them available for your customer-facing resources as a single view.

To do this, ensure all your channels and systems are integrated.

This way, you could provide a consistent customer experience across your channels.

Every customer interaction is an information source for you, as that would allow you to tweak and restructure your campaigns and can act as input to your product teams as well.

3. CRM Integration

Every company has thousands of interactions with its customers. They are a huge source of information for an organization.

You will have to get all of it onto your CRM.

For instance, a customer inquires about a car model, comes for a test drive, and has his questions answered about the vehicle’s performance.

However, he doesn’t end up buying it.

Where do you capture this information?

Naturally, your CRM should have this information.

This would allow you to retarget that customer whenever an offer comes up on that model, a new financing option opens up, or better performance features are added to it.

Thus customers feel valued, and it gains their loyalty.

4. Seek Feedback

Your relationship with your customers doesn’t end with you selling them a car. In fact, that is the beginning of the relationship.

Typically, car buyers are high-value customers, and the customer lifetime value is reasonably high, and you don’t want them migrating to another brand.

The easiest way to determine if your customers are happy with the experience you provide is to seek feedback from them.

Time your feedback in such a way that they feel like responding to them after every touchpoint.

Reward them for filling up the surveys.

You can do the surveys via text, messaging, or voice broadcasting with options for them to choose quickly and easily.

This would allow you to determine where exactly you are going wrong and which areas need improvement. Focus on improving the experience consistently.

Also, respond to every respondent about what you are doing about their feedback.

The automotive industry is too different from any other vertical. You are talking about premium customers who spend a substantial amount in buying an automobile. It is only natural that they expect premium service.

Ensure you have the right technology and processes to address and over-deliver your customer expectations.

Once an automobile buyer will always remain an automobile buyer.

So, ensure that you retain and grow the customer lifetime value of your customers by providing the best possible customer experience.

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