Rapid advances in mobile and digital technologies mean that automotive companies could soon face a challenge from some significant new entrants, including some of the biggest names in technology. In the face of this impending competition, improving the Digital Customer Experience (DCX) and delivering more personalized mobile and social communications will be central to retaining and attracting new customers.
The latest edition of Capgemini’s annual Cars Online report finds that one half of all customers surveyed would be interested in buying a car from a technology company such as Apple or Google, with young people (65 per cent) and those in growth markets (China 74 per cent; India 81 per cent) most likely to do so. Not only is software recognized as becoming more central to new, increasingly connected vehicles and developments such as autonomous driving, but tech companies are also seen as more customer-centric by many people.
Yet OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) have some key advantages that can help them to overcome such challenges. Moreover, with the right partnerships in place, technology companies could become allies rather than threats.
Automotive companies cannot afford to delay. Recent forecasts from Juniper Research estimate that connected cars will represent one fifth of the car market globally by 2019. One of the key messages: “Big Data analytics will play an increasingly important role in areas such as telematics.”
According to the Capgemini report more personalized communications through all phases of the vehicle purchasing lifecycle—interest, purchase, ownership, repurchase—can help OEMs to build long-term loyalty, a key opportunity that currently is often neglected. Social media, for example, is becoming increasingly important in car transactions, and particularly in the interest phase: 57 per cent of customers across all markets are likely to post information about their car-buying experience, up from 48 per cent a year earlier, while 30 per cent-40 per cent of customers in mature markets and 80 per cent in growth markets are likely to be influenced by positive comments on social media.
Across all markets the majority of customers (66 %-71 %) say email is their preferred communications channel when they make a purchase, but contact through websites/social media and smartphone apps is growing. OEMs and dealers can gain advantage by providing a seamless, individualized and interactive customer experience across all platforms.
That will require coherent technology and business strategies. By harnessing mobile, social media and analytics technologies, for example, customer data can be used to provide more targeted and personalized communications. The report shows that most customers are prepared to allow access to their data, provided they know why it is needed, although they still have serious concerns over security and privacy. More encouraging for OEMs: they score the highest levels of trust among consumers.
The challenge now is to build on that trust and demonstrate that OEMs have the IT knowledge to safeguard data. If developments such as connected car services and advanced driver assistance systems are really going to take off, alliances with technology companies and telco’s could play an important role and at the same time see off some of the competition.
P.S. This blog also featured on the Businessworld India website. View it here -