Alongside our partners HCLSoftware and AWS, we hosted an automotive panel in London and invited major OEMs as well as other innovative leaders in the industry. Mark Felix, the CMO of The AA in London, was the keynote speaker followed by Martin Tavener, CTO of Commerce at HCLSoftware. I’m proud to have been a part of such an esteemed panel of colleagues as Perficient’s Automotive Industry Lead, and would love to share with you the highlights of our lively discussion.
If you missed our Detroit Automotive Commerce Event, you can read the recap here.
Is Loyalty Dead?
One of the biggest concerns of automotive companies today is brand loyalty and customer churn. Consumers today want to feel as though they belong to something greater than themselves, and they are enabled with incredible technology that can help them find exactly that. Over 50% of automotive consumers are millennials who have very different expectations for their shopping, buying, and ownership experiences than the automotive shoppers of the past. They expect more to be easily available digitally and online than previous generations, and they aren’t afraid to jump from one brand to another to chase that experience.
We asked Mark Felix if he believed loyalty is dead, or if it could be revived in a new form. His perspective was that loyalty is not gone, but just that customers have a new idea of what loyalty should be: no longer is it sufficient for companies to offer points and rewards. Now, automotive companies must create a sense of community and membership in an experience that meets and exceeds their expectations.
What’s Ahead and How to Stay Ahead
Emerging technology is popping up left and right in automotive, so we wanted to ask our OEM attendees how they were dealing with EVs, autonomous vehicles, connected vehicles and products, emerging mobility, software updates, and more. More importantly, we discussed how to discern when a trend or disruptor is worth reacting to. Specifically, it was important to discuss the striking difference between two types of OEMs: while heritage OEMs are working hard to put out the vehicles and offerings that their automotive customers desire, EV-only manufacturers consider themselves to be software and technology companies creating products that go beyond the boundaries of automotive. Despite their differences, both depend on their ability to be nimble and agile while addressing changing consumer preferences and must discern wisely when to react.
Personalization and AI
Perficient Research Reveals Flaws in the EV Customer Journey
We surveyed more than 1,000 EV and non-EV owners to learn about their car-buying preferences. The results showed issues with the current buyer journey that OEMs need to address to accelerate EV sales.
For example, all the major OEMs have pointed out that personalization, AI, and machine learning are enabling are all worthy of quick prioritization and reaction. Consumers do not want generic messages, and their journeys are not linear. At the same time, OEMs must find ways to personalize throughout these non-linear journeys without completely exhausting resources and budgets. The panel spoke of how personalization translates beyond just the shopping for vehicles, but even more importantly, it creates that lifetime relationship with consumers. Perficient has worked with OEMs to create customer experiences that are deeper, unique, and helpful for consumers as they find their values align with the brand. While the strategy behind personalization is important, it is ultimately the utilization of technology that allows personalization at scale. Perficient has created virtual assistants with AI that help consumers find the right vehicle for them for them on the OEM’s website. Solutions like these not only deepen engagement but also drive increased conversions by having a much more qualified customer.
Sustainability and Mobility
Along these lines, sustainability was another huge topic. Being environmentally and socially responsible is not a new subject, yet it continues to gain momentum and importance in customers’ minds. We have seen this trend with the drive for EVs, but also for products as well. One example I gave was tire companies that are building connected tires and are looking for different materials than rubber to be more sustainable. While sustainability is not a driver for every consumer, it will be a driver for younger shoppers who are increasingly taking over the population. Even further, many of these younger consumers do not wish to own vehicles — they are leaning towards mobility solutions, which I’ve dubbed “car user-ship.”
Listening to the Voice of the Customer
At Perficient, we spent the last year conducting primary research on the EV Customer Journey. We spoke to OEMs, consumers, and dealers to learn about their first-hand experiences with the EV transition and the preferences that automotive customers have when shopping for their next vehicles. Ultimately, we gained great insights that will help OEMs and dealers improve the customer experience and increase the adoption of EVs. Now, it is up to OEMs to listen to the voice of the customer and implement the strategies and technologies we’ve talked about to create the best customer experience.
Accelerate Your Digital Transformation
By the end of the event, it was clear that what we started with our breakfast meeting in London was just the beginning: the dialogue must and will continue. We look forward to hosting many more industry events to continue facilitating these intimate conversations.
For a deep dive into the conversation, you can read the full recap here.
Tap into our automotive expertise to accelerate your digital transformation.