14 Oct 2015

The Auto Industry is on self-drive. Does it need Customer Experience Management?

The wheels of the auto industry are rolling quite well in India, thank you. And yet, is mileage the only factor that makes an Indian choose his car?
Some time ago a colleague wanted to buy a car.
While all background work had been done as to which were the possible choices, the final decision was going to be (obviously) based on the test drive. Read that as the Showroom Customer Experience.
It was shocking then to realize that some of the finest brands left much to be desired.
First a couple of brands did not return his call for a test drive.
Second a couple of brands did not, I repeat, did not have a test drive vehicle!
Third, the gap between advertising, marketing, sales and finally the actual sale was huge.

In my mind the auto industry is the perfect show space for Customer Experience. Not only do people buy cars but people keep on buying cars. From one car to another car. From a smaller car to a bigger car. From a hatchback to a sedan to an SUV. The upgrade is almost endless. Which means customer loyalty is already a given. Why wouldn’t you cement this loyalty with the right experience?
Keeping the wheels of Customer Experience turning.
Here are three key factors that could ignite brand loyalty through a better Customer Experience
1. The Auto Customer is a Customer for life
While you are measuring the lifetime value (LTV) of a customer remember, once a car owner, always a car owner for a lifetime. This is not true of any other vehicle – and this is why the customer experience management becomes even more important. A customer who is engaged with a brand is most likely to be a repeat customer – this one for life.
2. After-sales is pre-sales in the automobile industry
Microsoft’s annual Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report 2015 shows that
97% of global consumers surveyed said customer service is somewhat or very important in their choice of or loyalty to a brand. 62% also said that they’ve stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service.
The investment in service and engagement and innovations to empower agents, employees and customers can no longer be ignored or postponed.
In the automobile industry particularly, after-sales is tantamount to pre-sales. I continue buying a brand well after I have outgrown the product. And this is where terms like upsell, cross-sell and retention make more sense.
3. Your Customer Experience is your brand champion
A positive customer experience is what makes for stickiness to the brand. It makes the customer come back for more. It is what makes the customer loyal to the brand – to a point where the customers not only repeatedly use the brand but also endorse it and become credible champions of the brand. That is the best form of advertising your brand can ever get. And the investment in it pays off in huge numbers.
To the car manufacturers who’ve taken Customer Experience seriously, I’d say there’s no looking back. To those still in neutral gear, I’d say it was time to shift to drive.