Long-term Relationships: Improving Customer Experience in the Automotive Industry
As car buyers change, the industry is learning to manage complex relationships across time.
For years, the automotive industry has focused on improving the quality of cars. But in today’s marketplace, where a reliable, well performing car is less of a competitive differentiator, customer experience is becoming the focal point of innovation.
This shift is driven in part by a change in consumer attitude. For 20th century car buyers, a vehicle allowed them to hit the open road and was often an expression of individuality and freedom. New generations, however, are driving less and use technology more. They tend to focus on mobility and convenience; a car is just another means of transportation. For this new demographic, the automobile has become secondary to the end-to-end experience of getting from one place to another.
To adapt, auto manufacturers and dealers alike are thinking carefully about the individual customer experiences they deliver. They are learning how to manage the complexity of their relationship data over time to optimize those experiences. To become customer-centric, these companies recognize that they must first become data-centric.
At recent Informatica MDM 360 Summits, we heard the approaches several automotive companies are adopting to adjust to new customer expectations.
Better experiences through relationship management
During the MDM 360 Summit in Paris, Anders Langås, Project Manager at Møller shared how Master Data Management (MDM) technology has positioned Møller to deliver a host of enhanced services to customers. For example, Møller uses mastered customer data to simplify the process of reaching 165,000 customers impacted by a recent vehicle recall, providing a vastly enhanced customer experience.
Møller distributes Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen automobiles in Norway, Sweden, and the Baltics through a network of nearly 140 auto dealerships. With a half million annual changes of ownership of private cars in Norway alone, it can be daunting to keep pace with customer activity.
The team at Møller has combined more than 100 internal and external data sources in order to enable its enhanced service portfolio, including a new My Car Ownership app and online booking services targeted at digital consumers.
“Customers expect a seamless experience across sales channels,” said Langås . “For example, if they go online and configure a car with the features they want, they shouldn’t have to do so again at the dealership. We need data out of silos and accessible at any point in the customer experience.”
Using customer data across channels and dealers is central to Møller’s future success. Its MDM platform interprets hierarchical relationship data (for example, between customer, car, dealers and brands/ manufacturers), formal and informal social relationships, and other contextual data (such as whether a customer owns, leases or uses a vehicle).
“A person’s experience with a vehicle is long and complex, and the more we know about it the better our service can be,” said Langås.
‘Moments of truth’ that feed a relationship
Similarly, another automaker is also using MDM practices to fuel a more integrated end-to-end customer experience—one that unifies the customer view across all touchpoints and interactions including marketing, call centers and dealerships.
The automaker maps the‘moments of truth’ in the customer journey, from the first point of contact, through sales, ownership, maintenance, and even post-ownership communication. The goal is to provide a highly personalized experience so the customer feels recognized and valued. To do that the manufacturer needed a 360-degree view of the customer, shared at all levels.
To create a 360-degree view of its customers and prospect contacts, data is consolidated from all of the following:
- owner registration data
- digital sources including the website
- maintenance and service records
- usage data collected from the vehicle
- and other local sources
This combined data helps deliver more relevant and personalized marketing campaigns, improve its service, identify sales opportunities, and meet the customer at critical times in its journey, preventing break downs in customer experience that limit brand loyalty.
Increased knowledge of the customer journey
Yet another automaker launched an MDM initiative to support the entire customer lifecycle. By increasing its knowledge of the customer journey, the company is poised to increase customer loyalty, improve marketing communications, and boost conversion rates across multiple geographies. They consolidated more than 100 data sources comprising millions of vehicles and millions of contacts, and leveraged that data to predict key moments in the sales cycle.
The consolidated and enriched customer database now helps to answer questions like:
- Who are our customers?
- When will a customer be receptive to repurchase?
- Who is most likely to be loyal to our brand?
- What is the best product offering for this customer?
It’s a long ride
MDM provides a reliable way to interpret the customer relationship across the entire journey. Mastered data delivers the essential tools for managing complex relationships over time: integration of data from multiple sources, resolution of poor quality or conflicting data, and modeling relationships between diverse data entities such as dealers, buyers, owners, drivers, and vehicles.
The companies mentioned here—and many others—are making a decisive leap: Rather than focus singularly on traditional metrics such as Net Promoter Score, loyalty and satisfaction they are racing to compete on customer experience. These companies are learning to extract valuable experience information from long-term relationship data. It’s not a coincidence that they use MDM to do it.
For more information:
- What kind of deep customer insight are you missing out on? Go to Informatica’s solutions page to learn how you can get a 360 degree view of a customer relationship.
- Ready to improve the efficiency of your CRM? Nissan talks about enhancing CRM, communicating to customers better, and successfully converting customers with a mastered customer database in this video.
- If you’d like to attend a future MDM 360 Summit, our next one is in London, England, on October 20, 2016. You can find more information and register here.