Customer Service departments are assuming an increasingly central role in most sectors, from industry giants and medium-sized companies to small businesses and start-ups. The automotive sector is no exception, customer service in the automotive industry is very important. In fact, the industry is focusing more and more attention (and investments) to improve the relationship with customers.
Let’s start with an important fact: according to an analysis by Bain & Company, it costs 6 to 7 times more to win a new customer than to retain one, through a satisfactory Customer Experience. This makes a huge difference and one that has enormous consequences. According to a 2017 survey conducted by Gartner, as many as 81% of marketers expect Customer Experience to be the main marketing challenge over the next three years.
There is a growing awareness that a good marketing strategy must include good Customer Care. This highlights how closely these two aspects are linked. But that’s not all. We’re only at the beginning of this process, which is aiming more and more toward personalization and on the increasingly efficient, simple and tailor-made dialog between company and customer.
What is accelerating this process, even in the automotive sector? It’s down to many factors, certainly, but digital transformation is the predominant one.
The revolution of digital transformation
The term “Digital Transformation” refers not to one change, but to the many changes that the advent of digital technologies has caused in all areas of society, from production processes to market processes, and from social and even psychological dynamics. Digital Transformation is impacting our world in most every way.
In the business world, the consequences triggered by this truly epoch-making change are profound. In this post, we want to focus on one aspect in particular (and it’s perhaps the most significant consequence, even in the automotive sector). With digital transformation, the very role of the customer has been overturned. It is no longer a satellite that revolves around the policies and dynamics of the company. Instead, the customer has become the center of the business.
Today’s consumer has an endless range of choices and possibilities in front of him, like never before. They expect simplicity, they are used to a decision-making process that develops in just a few clicks (for example, for purchases on Amazon); they expect an interactive and smart, tailor-made approach. Finally, today’s consumer expects a smooth, one-to-one, and omnichannel, dialog with the companies they do business with.
In the automotive sector, there is lots of room for improvement for these aspects, especially on the customer service side (but we will come back to this later). Of course, the benefits of digital transformation are also enormous on the company front. They just have to be seized. Brands must pursue their customers, of course, and try to win their attention in a competitive environment that has never been so tough and complex. At the same time, companies have more and more refined tools at their disposal to “get to know” their potential customers than ever before. These are the systems that can be used to interpret “Big Data,” the digital traces that we all disseminate online.
In this sense, thanks to the most advanced technologies, we can get to know the customer that is right in front of us. It allows companies to learn how to divide the audience into clusters with consistent characteristics, into specific targets to hit with calibrated actions.
Customer Service in the Automotive Industry: The most effective strategies
The question, “Why is Customer Service so decisive in the automotive sector?” can be answered in various ways. We’ve talked about the central role of the customer in the age of digital transformation. But let’s go even further.
According to data (source), in 2025 about 45% of car buyers will be “millennials” (those born from 1981 to 1996) who are, more than other generations, are used to a fluid, one-to-one relationship with brands. Car manufacturers (but also dealers and the huge supply chain that revolves around this sector) must get to know this target and adapt to its characteristics in order to anticipate their needs.
This segment of consumers is used to dealing with companies such as Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber, companies that employ the best digital strategies and rely heavily on the Customer Experience. Translated: 24/7 support, a strong and well-studied presence on social networks, a perfectly omnichannel and mobile-first approach, and a growing focus on personalization.
For an industry as huge as automotive, with its complex and typically slower sales dynamics, this is not an easy transition. Let’s think about the gap between customer expectations and experience when it comes to service and support: slow service times, phone-based appointments, and a lack of transparency when it comes to expenses. A customer takes, on average, 15 hours to purchase a car. The hours invested in all service processes, however, are 50 hours (source). This is where loyalty is built. It’s easier to sell a new car to a customer who has already had a satisfactory experience with the brand and the dealer.
It is no coincidence that, according to a survey by McKinsey, when buying a new car, the consumer’s experience with service is more decisive than the previous purchase (source).
At this point, how can you improve your Customer Service—the relationship and dialog with customers—to generate loyalty? There is no single recipe. However, there are some guidelines that are valid for everyone.
The three key points
- Upstream of everything there is the need for maximum awareness “inside” the company (from the car company to the dealer). This is the first point. We need to define a common purpose, a common mission, shared at all levels, from management to the front line. To do this, it is essential to put effective B2E (Business to Employee) actions on track.
- The second key point is analysis of the customer journey. The purchase path for a car can be very long and typically takes place through very different touchpoints. We focused on this topic extensively in this post. It is important to underline\ how essential it is to analyze this path in an omni-channel way, to be in the right place, at the right time, and with tailored communication. To do this, a simple analysis of Big Data is not enough, you need to go deeper (this is why we prefer to talk about “Smart Data” or “Deep Data”).
- With this, we come to the third key point, the fundamental one: personalization. Here, the challenge for customer loyalty is played out through Digital Transformation. It is essential to know as much as possible about the individual customer in order to to address him as an individual. Of course, all this is possible thanks to the most advanced technologies such as those provided by Doxee. This is all the more important for the Automotive sector, where the quantity, but above all the quality of the data owned by the brands is very high. Personalization is a strategy that must be set in motion at 360 degrees: from traditional (but still effective) email marketing campaigns with the possibility of inserting personalized videos (we have talked about it extensively here), to restructuring the dynamics of assistance and service, to the creation of personalized mini-sites or applications for smartphones and tablets.
It is a complex challenge, in short. But, as always, it brings with it great possibilities.