In the first post on customer centric business models Jarther Taylor, CEO of Datarati, shared insights on how to respond to disruption. In this post, he explores the how the automotive industry can organise around the customer, drawing from a panel discussion on the Future of the Automotive Industry with leaders from technology and vehicle sectors, co-hosted by Datarati and Saasfocus.
If customer centric marketing and fulfilment models are logical ways to future-proof your business, what is the biggest challenge in engaging with the customer?
The first challenge for car dealers is to understand and meet customer expectations profitably. They also need to meet the car manufacturer’s expectations, and addressing both simultaneously is made harder by rising expectations.
The typical response to these rising customer and manufacture expectations in the car industry is to follow the existing orthodoxy explained Carlos from Salesforce.com.
Carlos added that the very fact C-Level leaders have usually spent decades in the automotive industry, makes finding a fresh response from within the industry challenging.
What is needed, immediately, is executive-level sponsorship of the voice of the customer, based on genuine customer centric data and insights, not executive experience. Tellingly, Carlos noted that adapting internal culture to respond to the changes in customer culture is probably the most significant organisation risk.
Customer ownership is also a complex challenge in the industry. The conversation has expanded from one mostly conducted between sales, marketing or service functions on who “owns the customer”, to include discussion between manufacturers and dealers. Regardless of which function becomes the custodian (not the owner) of the customer relationship, the industry leaders we met with agreed that it needs to be directed from the CEO down.
Ultimately, strong customer engagement will come by developing the relationship – and improving the customer experience – beyond the sale of a contract. Critical factors include understanding that customers want an appropriate experience throughout their journey, from shopping, buying, servicing and then selling their car.
While the idea of lifecycle marketing is not new within the automotive industry, the execution of it is not always working well.
- No single person (or business unit) owns the customer, though it’s important the customer custodian has a seat
at the executive table
- Adapt to changing customer expectations by making a break from history, because what made you successful in
the past will not make you successful in the future
- Organise around customers not transactions
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