How OEMs and automotive retailers can connect their business to customers

9 January 2014

It’s true to say in most cases, the multiple systems that exist within Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and retailers exasperate a situation that has existed for over 125 years.  Cars have been built for that long, and yet OEMs and dealers still don’t know their customers!

What does exist, are CRM strategies that result in a database that stores data for segmentation, analysis, targeting and profiling. A huge gap remains between these acts and retailers that reach for the database when the service department is behind target or a new model is being launched and needs to find interested customers.  This reactive approach is easy to maintain as DMS and CRM systems do not allow easy access to likely in market shoppers and service clients that are 60% more likely to defect when their car reaches its five year point.

Enhanced Customer Experience and Relationship Management (CERM)

How does this relate a key item on the agenda of OEMs at the moment – improving the customer experience?

If you do not have a system that recognises who is loyal, who has been on a website, configured a car or attended an event, how can you wow a customer looking to buy their first or third car or spend £500 on a major service including brakes?

The next generation has surely moved to CERM or Customer Experience and Relationship Management.  To manage this effectively, OEMs and retailers need to work in collaboration.  Systems need to support each other’s role in influencing the customer experience by recognizing loyalty, interaction with the brand, how the customer wants to engage, , special personalized offers to be sent at key moments in the buying cycle or service experience. 

Furthermore, if a sales executive or customer service advisor is not empowered or resourced to provide a special customer experience, then they likely won’t!  They’ll  just get on with simply trying to sell a car they have in stock to a customer regardless of whether it’s what the customer really wants/needs, or leave the customer waiting in service reception for paperwork to be printed and the car recovered from the workbay…as often happens.

From data silos to a 360 degree view of your customers

A solution is required that brings the key elements of data together to shows who may be in the market for a new or pre-owned car, whose car is coming up for a service, who has been on a website, who is brand loyal and should be invited to an event and those prospects who did not buy last time around but may do this time because you are going to knock their socks off.  Building interfaces and creating KPI dashboards is no longer the complex, expensive scenario it once was.  The only way to work smarter at the CERM goal is to be connected to your opportunities.

Imagine coming in on a Monday morning and being able to see whose lease is maturing or who has filled in a car configuration sheet, what your closing ratio buy sales exec is or what customers are booked into service that did not buy their car from you.  Plus, the OEM sends you leads that merges with records in your DMS/CRM and show what event the client attended or that they asked for an online brochure on the SUV as opposed to the saloon car they drive at present. 

To work smarter means you just need the data you already have that is buried in multiple systems and owned by multiple stakeholders, to have this on view and accessible with your employees educated on how to use the tools best.

Just imagine!  


About the author

Tom Cregg has been in the automotive industry since 1983, having started with Mercedes-Benz at its UK headquarters.  Since then, Tom has occupied a number of senior regional operational and management roles including with Daimler-Chrysler and SAGE Auto Group in the United States. 

Passionate about connecting automotive manufactures with their customers, Tom has been involved in developing some of the industry’s most intelligent business tools and e-commence systems designed to provide sales, marketing and services teams with a single view of customers.

Tom is a sought after industry expert, helping clients develop business strategies and technological capabilities to better identify and convert new prospects into loyal customers.   He believes the industry has much to learn from retailers including how to engage consumers across multiple touch points and channels including the internet, showroom and service centres. 

Tom is currently spearheading the development of an industry-wide business intelligence tool to connect multiple systems including customer relationship management (CRM) to change the way dealers create and manage sales and service customer experiences so brand loyalty drives sales.  

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