The automotive industry is 127 years overdue for a major overhaul. And I’m not just talking about bringing to market the slickest, coolest and most fuel efficient cars consumers have ever seen - though they are important.
For too long, retailers and OEMs have become complacent, expecting consumers to walk in and buy a car right off the dealer’s lot. The sales rep’s job is done.
Reality is far from utopia here, especially nowadays when consumers have so much choice. It’s a choice that far exceeds picking a car from a line-up of thousands from the comfort of a showroom. People can easily buy a car online and have it delivered the same day. In this customer experience, the sales rep has lost out on a hefty commission.
There is more at stake here than just the buying of a car
Retailers and OEMs are losing out in a big way by not having the means to keep a customer brand loyal. The reason is simple: They don’t know much about the customer after the driver leaves the dealership with a new shiny car.
It’s not as if retailers and OEMs don’t possess data. It’s just the opposite. They have more information about us than most companies. However, the data they have collected about you and I, what we drive, how we drive, and the condition of our cars, isn’t connected enough to paint a complete and meaningfully picture. It’s a shame really.
If BMW knew me like my wife does, the company would be in a position to inform me when my car needs servicing and where I should go for the best deal. When we have a new kid, and there is a need for a larger car, I will need to upgrade my car so it can accommodate another car seat. I’d like to be told by BMW what financing is available to me so I don’t need to spend days researching options (I am busy enough!).
The more my preferred brand knows about me, and uses the information to help me, the more loyal I will be.
Why don’t big brands get this right?
It’s not through a lack of trying. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars on building customer relationship management (CRM) systems. But these big IT projects always nearly fail because our favourite brands are focusing on the wrong thing – it’s not about building technology. They just need to focus on connecting terabytes of data currently residing in disparate systems including customer relationship management (CRM), finance, service, warranty and digital from across the organisation.
This may sound like a call order. It’s not. It requires a change in mindset, and doing something for the first time. That’s what leaders do.
Supporting retailers and OEMs with mobile apps
We have been working on our own skunks project, developing a prototype of a mobile app that we believe is the first of its kind for the automotive industry. We’ll be unveiling this at ENG’s annual Automotive and Retail Distribution Summit, in Berlin, on the 2nd of April.
The app has been designed to specifically support the challenges of retailers and OEMs struggling to connect with customers. We decided on a mobile app because it’s not just what consumers use every day; we’re using the latest technologies that leapfrog over legacy systems that have stopped the automotive industry from innovating at the pace of consumer change.
In my next blog post, I’ll give you a sneak-peak into our new app, and what it means for customers, retailers and OEMs.