This is Part 8 of a 10-part series of Digital Customer Experience in the automotive industry. Use the links below to navigate between parts:
< Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 >
We have learned a lot about managing the customer experience in automotive retail in previous articles of our blog series. We have discussed the high importance of a collaborative data management approach and how to generate customer insights from the huge amount of data Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and dealers are sitting on, just to name a few examples.

However, there is one question we haven’t raised so far. What tools do sales and service employees at the dealer need to fully exploit the potentials of data-driven customer management and thus boost their business success?

Recently, a global automotive OEM just dealt with exactly this question. How can we equip our dealers with digital tools that help them improve their customer management? As of today, many dealers are still using outdated dealer management systems (DMS) that look a lot like MS-DOS.

Some more progressive dealers are using their own customer relationship management system to make one step forward, but these systems are hardly ever integrated with OEM systems and therefore don’t make sufficient use of all customer information that is available. Also, having multiple systems that are not connected might require multiple data entries, activities that are very time-consuming and frustrating for employees at dealer side. As a consequence, oftentimes the systems are either not used or the data quality is on a very low level.

As a smart and pragmatic solution, the OEM has designed and developed an application in the form of a customer dashboard that enables the dealer’s staff to communicate with their customers in the right way at the right time. Data from dealer systems (e.g. DMS), OEM systems (e.g. call center, customer portal) and external systems (e.g. demographic databases) will be integrated and displayed in one smart customer dashboard. Clear visualizations, useful consolidations and a convenient usability create several benefits for the user.

Everything at one place

Customer information from sales, service, marketing or even connected vehicles is integrated into one tool. Dealer employees no longer need to switch between various systems to get the information they need to serve their customers best.

Comprehensive customer view

We’ve observed numerous cases in which the dealer’s sales staff is not aware of previous service contacts of the customer, while service advisors don’t know about existing sales opportunities. Often, this leads to inappropriate, suboptimal customer communication and an irritated customer who has to repeat his story all over again.

For example, a sales person might actively push a customer towards buying a new vehicle, even though the customer is very unsatisfied with the dealer due to bad experiences he has had in the workshop. To avoid such situation, the customer dashboard combines sales and service information in one user interface and makes them accessible for all employees at one click.

Proactive communication

Working with integrated customer data from various sources, analytic solutions will feed the customer dashboard with customer insights, Next Best Actions (NBA) and Next Best Offers (NBO) for sales and service.

Making proper use of these NBAs and NBOs can boost the dealer’s business directly through improved targeting (e.g. personalization), higher conversion rates and more effective communication measures such as micro-campaigns.

Intelligent customer selection

Keeping all customer and vehicle information in a database provides the ability to easily create target groups for campaigns through a selection mechanism, as an example. Users will be able to set selection criteria and the customer dashboard will provide a list of those customers that fit the criteria within seconds.

An example of an easy segmentation might be the selection of all customers that are between 20 and 30 years of age, drive a vehicle that was priced between €20,000 and €30,000, come to the workshop annually and haven’t been targeted in any other campaign within the last 12 months

Availability everywhere and every time

Employees at dealers who are supposed to spend most of their working time in direct customer contact should not waste time sitting at their desk doing administrative tasks in the back office. Instead, they should be walking around in the showroom, talking to customers. To make their life easier and improve their time management, the customer dashboard is optimized for the usage on mobile devices like an iPad.

Sales and service employees no longer need to get back to their desk in case they want to prepare for an upcoming customer visit. The mobile tool enables them to check customer data everywhere, every time and in every situation.

Automotive sales and service processes are changing, and so do dealers and their showrooms. The customer dashboard is one example of a very effective tool that supports the dealer’s employees in data-driven customer management and helps to satisfy customer demands regarding personalized communication and a sophisticated customer experience at the dealer.