Regardless of whether we’re talking nostalgia or the future of driving, people have a strong connection to their cars. Most of us remember the feelings of joy and independence that came with taking to the open road.

Ever since Henry Ford produced automobiles for the masses, the car has taken center stage in popular culture. Think of all the Hollywood road movies celebrating the transformative power of journeying towards new life experiences, or how characters like James Bond are associated with an iconic make of vehicle.

Over the years, the automobile has evolved from simply being a means of transportation to a lifestyle statement or status indicator. For many, their car reflects who they are – their values, their self-image, what’s important to them at this moment in time in the life journey.

When it comes to purchasing or driving a car, it’s both personal and emotional. So, underperforming on customer experience (CX) simply isn’t an option for automotive brands.

The digitally empowered consumer rises

Thanks to the Amazon effect, consumers expect a seamless end-to-end experience when choosing, buying, and owning a big budget item like a car. This means the pressure is on for car companies to deliver the right customer experience. Yet all too many are still locked into a transactional product-centric approach that fails to put the customer at the heart of their business.

From engaging with customers via digital channels to ensuring they have the visibility needed to guarantee optimal pre and post-purchasing services in ways that build brand loyalty and advocacy, the future of driving means delivering personalized services. Today’s consumers want outstanding CX, and delivering it has become a strategic priority for auto makers.

But that’s not the only challenge. In an increasingly connected world, customers want new technologies to deliver innovative driver experiences – optimized vehicle controls, multi-channel infotainment, and connected services that keep them up-dated in the moment. This includes real-time notifications on everything, from navigation updates to the latest weather driving conditions, vehicle usage data, and next-service alerts.

In other words, customers expect their cars to be connected, smart, and personalized so they can go where they want, when they want, and how they want. This is a fundamental shift that involves subscription models and services to address the rising digitalization demands of consumers.

Eliminating pain points and frustrations at every step of the purchasing and ownership journey, while proactively delivering the features, services, and information today’s customers expect can help automotive companies get a head start on the competition.

The future of driving: Competing on customer experiences

The adoption of customer experience-based strategies represents a fundamental shift in how automotive companies compete for the hearts and minds of consumers.

To turn customers into fanatics, brands need to know exactly what customers are feeling. To do this, they must understand human experiences (X data) and fuse that information with operational insights (O data), creating a virtuous cycle of learning and continuous feedback.

Because people’s opinions and expectations change daily, the ability to constantly pulse attitudes of customers or know which real-time demand signals directly from the dealer network are resonating with customers is critical to CX.

Only by becoming truly customer-centric can you keep up with evolving consumer preferences and usage behaviors – or drive improved dealer interactions that generate lasting loyalty and revenue uplifts.

Revving up customer experience management to navigate the road to success

BMW re-engineered its CX program in a bid to increase repurchase and return service rates. Knowing that customers consider the service experience more influential than their last buying experience, they identified specific touchpoints for focused interventions to improve the service experience.

This led to the implementation of simple and automated electronic questionnaires asking customers to rate their experiences following a purchase, a service, a repair, or encountering a problem.

Providing immediate insights into what impacts customer satisfaction, automated alerts were triggered to dealership employees who were empowered to respond to customers within 24 hours. Capturing those real time insights generated some impressive outcomes.

The ability to identify – and fix – the root cause of customer complaints by implementing a closed-loop feedback-management process has enabled BMW to resolve 90% of all customer issues within five days or less. The results from systematically measuring customer satisfaction levels speak for themselves: re-purchase and returns for service are up. Within just nine months, the brand experienced a 23 point NPS increase – generating a major boost to customer lifetime value.

It’s a similar story at Porsche, where delivering ‘love at first drive’ has seen the manufacturer put the focus on elevating customer satisfaction.

The program involved every function of the business as well as its dealer network, and led to the launch of a virtual delivery app that enables customers to become familiar with how to use their car’s features before they take receipt of their new purchase. Realizing what customers really want also resulted in a raft of new value-add services. Today, Porsche ranks highest of all automotive brands in customer satisfaction with recently purchased models.

Driving outcomes via CX

Embarking on a data driven approach to customer experience management generates significant outcomes. Patterns and trends across transactions, services, and associated CX data can support increased vehicle sales and repeat purchases through improved targeting. Plus, it’s easier to understand where each individual customer is on their journey right now – and how likely they are to continue in the busying process or defect.

By improving the overall CX, it’s possible to improve retention from lease to purchase, enhance the pricing performance of dealerships, and gain a better understanding of consumer brand sentiment and intent. But that’s not all.

For today’s younger customers who value personalized omnichannel communications, 24/7 support, and an interest in flexible mobility options like ride sharing, automotive brands will need to ensure there’s no disconnect between expectations and the actual experience.

Automotive brands using CX management can identify key action areas and understand exactly how customer-centric their organization really is. In today’s market and the future of driving, CX data is the key to delivering a more curated and convenient experience that makes customers want to come back for more.

Get ready for the future of driving.
Deliver the CX that your customers want.

Author: Ursa Mihajlovic - Global Director Industry Marketing - SAP