Part 1 – Know your customers

By August 25, 2014 February 6th, 2017 Think Tank

This first instalment of the white paper covers the most important aspect of the dealership: the relationship with their customers. Many dealerships express the difficulties that they face in trying to understand their customers, and how to form strong relationships with them.

In this week’s blog article, we explore the current dealership practice, and the future 2020 vision of how dealerships will use better technology, processes and analytics to better engage and delight their customers.


“We have real difficulties in getting the right market intelligence to understand what is important from a customer perspective. There’s data everywhere and all throughout the industry, but there’s just no information. There’s nobody connecting the dots.”

Starting from Now

Many of the leaders expressed that it is difficult to understand the basic needs and wants of Aftersales customers because of a lack of deep and useful demographic marketing intelligence in Aftersales. While customer data is readily available throughout the automotive industry, it is not always converted into information that can be used to enhance the service customer experience. This leads to offers and campaigns that are insufficiently personalised or ineffectively targeted, resulting in lost opportunities and wasted effort.

Most automakers recognise the need to become ‘digital’ and have responded by launching email campaigns and websites to target some customer types. However, it is believed that used car owners hold the key to meaningfully reversing service customer attrition rates for dealerships, but there is little marketing knowhow, tools, or resources to engage with them or motivate them. Their relationship potential is reduced to simple ‘flat rate pricing’ promotions, and dealerships can’t cope with the individual complexities inherent in nurturing a profitable lower margin / higher volume relationship with them.

Vision of the Future

Fixed-Operations-2020-customers-In 2020, customer engagement strategies will commence with understanding individual needs, as opposed to large demographic segmentations. Automakers will integrate advanced situational sensors into their vehicles, which will capture vehicle and operational conditions before sending them to a central data-pool. This data, when combined with social database elements, will empower comprehensive profiling of consumers, their vehicles, and the ways in which they drive.

Automakers will treat each vehicle and customer individually and deliver personalised campaigns and offers that increase the potential for greater brand engagement. Automakers and Information Technology Providers (ITPs) will use customer profiling to develop websites and portals that are tailored specifically for new and used car owners/users. Service systems will link with authoritative vehicle ownership change records to ensure that used cars and their owners are well profiled within their brand network. Automaker systems will maintain contact with vehicle owners/users and keep them feeling like ‘a welcomed member of the brand family’.

Users will have Personal Digital Assistants (tablets and phones) that will notify them about service requirements and allow them to negotiate appointments and transactions.

Profiling will also enable automakers to pinpoint the social media discourse for effective dialogues. Service systems and personnel will have access to Big Data that allows for driver-tailored service advice and high customer satisfaction.

“You have to have knowledge about the customer and what they prefer and what kind of offers you give for that specific customer and not to give daily offers on whatever, and it should be given directly to that specific need for that customer.”

Bridge to the Future

The 2020 vision will be achieved as Aftersales applications become capable of triangulating a range of customer characteristics and behaviours that relate to vehicles and how they are used, including driving habits, servicing, and other non-technical preferences. Automakers and dealerships will employ systems that can utilise raw data and convert it into information for serving and retaining customers within the brand. Purchasing motivation expertise will be built into systems to align the content and style of communications with customers’ socio-demographic profiles.

Similarly, automakers will ensure that integration exists between customer PDAs and the next generation of ‘smart’ personal technologies, such as biometric watches and head-up display glasses, in order for all relevant information to be recorded in customer knowledge databases.

Automakers will lobby governments and consumer organisations to influence economic, legislative, and environmental trends that affect customer behaviours and attitudes toward vehicles and data use.