Customer Experience Differentiation: The Importance of Data Transparency and Collaboration

Customer Experience Differentiation: The Importance of Data Transparency and Collaboration

The Automotive go-to-market model remains in flux. Customers are bewildered, while long-standing dealership franchises face an uncertain future. Yet in a market still striving to deliver a truly customer-centric lifetime experience, dealerships will continue to play a key role in improving customer lifetime value.

David CumberbatchWith the quality of customer experience fast becoming core to brand differentiation, the pressure is on to create and share high-quality customer data and embrace a truly collaborative OEM—dealer relationship, explains David Cumberbatch, Associate Partner Customer Experience at MHP Consulting UK.

Inadequate Experience

Customer confidence in the car market is falling, especially in Electric Vehicles (EVs). With price cutting in a bid to boost sales & second-hand values plummeting, consumers are just not buying into the eco-messaging. Yet the issue is far more nuanced than customer perception. How clear and comprehensive is the quality of information available to support decision-making during the sales process.

The online tools used to compare different vehicles can be both confusing and / or inconsistent. In some instances, Dealers are compelled to use one system to price EVs and another for legacy engine vehicles.

Also read: Importance of Customer Experience (CX) in Enterprises

Moreover, there is no seamless way to manage a customer’s information for an individual moving from one vehicle type to another. This lack of data and simplicity is further undermining the level of EV sales – and, as a result, affecting the overall perception of the automotive market.

For the extensive dealership network facing declining servicing and repair revenue, due to the lower maintenance requirements of EVs, this lack of consumer confidence is adding further concerns about the future.

Yet dealerships continue to play a vital role in winning and retaining customers for OEMs. The quality of engagement they can provide will be key to rebuilding consumer confidence and core to the end-to-end customer lifetime experience that underpins loyalty and retention. However, this can only be achieved if the current friction between OEMs and dealerships is addressed. 

Inconsistent Data

The customer should be at the heart of an efficient, effective end-to-end experience. However, the lack of a 360-degree customer view continues to compromise attempts to create a robust, relevant buying journey.

Information is siloed, both within OEMs and dealership franchise networks. In many instances, there is no effective link between sales records and service records, no integration with finance systems and no way to understand how prospects are interacting with a brand, both on and offline, before making a buying decision.

Not only are OEMs still struggling with the disparity of their internal customer data, they also have little – if any – visibility of a dealer’s activity. Dealer groups are running their own Dealer Management Systems for stock, inventory and accounts, but often rely on multiple lead management systems provided by each brand. The result is a mismatch of information, an inability to understand new buying behaviors, and a lack of trusted data to support personalized communication.

OEMs are pushing hard to build a stronger direct customer connection. Collecting online prospect information, however, is just a fraction of the insight required.  OEMs and dealerships need to work together to understand how best to deliver a customer experience that extends from initial online research through test drive, purchase (with or without part exchange and finance), servicing, and maintenance.

Customer Lifetime Data

To create a single view of the customer, it is essential to take down the barriers between systems – within both the OEM and dealer networks. But that is just the start. A cultural shift is now essential if dealerships are to play their role in supporting the end-to-end customer journey.

Whether the OEM shifts to agency or remains with a traditional franchise approach, dealers remain a core component of the customer relationship. They are the point of contact for the physical introduction to the vehicle; they are responsible for problem resolution, such as recalls, and for successfully delivering regular servicing. It is, therefore, these points of interaction that will reinforce the brand image to the end-customer – or not.

Customer experience is becoming a key area of differentiation at a time of vehicle homogeneity. OEMs may be intent on managing more of the customer relationship, but without a collaborative approach that embraces dealerships, how can a brand control the quality of engagement?

End-to-end, two-way data sharing is the foundation of effective engagement. It will underpin a better understanding of the complete customer journey and empower dealerships with the information they need to ensure customer engagement is timely and relevant to drive sales, improve customer loyalty, and boost brand retention.

Check Out The New TalkCMO Podcast. For more such updates follow us on TalkCMO News

Previous articleWhatsApp Introduces AI-Powered Ad Targeting for Businesses, Marks Shift in Strategy
Next articleEffectv Extends Audience Addressable to Enable Regional and Local Market Advertisers to Deliver Household Targeted Campaigns
David Cumberbatch
David Cumberbatch is an Associate Partner at MHP Consulting UK, where his responsibilities include delivering growth, maximizing revenue, and driving margin potential within both a strategic partnership and client account development. Prior to joining MHP in 2023, David spent nearly 25 years working in the automotive retail industry, holding commercial and managerial roles across dealer process improvement, retail operations, client services, and customer experience for OEMs, including Jaguar Land Rover, Citroen, Volkswagen UK, and Ford Motor Company.