In the 1970s, if you had a car with air-conditioning, you’d probably have been the envy of all your friends, and you’d even have gotten more for your car on the second hand market. Today, it’s pretty much impossible to buy a new car that doesn’t have air-conditioning. You’re more likely to find that you new car offers not just air-conditioning, but also heated seats (that you can control remotely with your smartphone), climate control, heated windscreens and a whole lot more.
Product innovation has always been top priority for car manufacturers, which is why they are among the top spenders in research and development. The question now is whether this is enough. Product innovation is taking place at such speed that a unique innovation today can easily be copied and manufactured by a rival firm tomorrow.
Product specifications and feature lists no longer offer that unique reason for the customer to choose one car model over another.So where does that leave car manufacturers? How can they find that X-Factor that will make customers desire one of their cars more than their competitors?
Can the Connected Car Save the Industry?
As analysts Gartner have noted, the introduction of the connected car holds great promise for the automotive industry but, in their opinion, “entire organizations must be transformed, and the automotive industry’s linear value and supply chains must be replaced with agile and fluid approaches that can sense innovation opportunities quickly — from ideation to market introduction.”
So how can car manufacturers tap into this “gigantic data-collection engine,” otherwise known as the connected car?
The automotive industry has up till now been one of the most innovative industries in the world – if we’re talking about products. Now, car manufacturers need to combine their world-class experience and expertise in product innovation, with the data from the connected car to create unique services and experiences that distinguish their cars from the competition. Services like allowing car owners to receive shopping deliveries securely to the boot of their car.
Start with Servicing
Car manufacturers don’t have to look far for a service that could benefit from innovation – the annual vehicle service. Competition is fierce. Customers are shopping around, looking for the best deal. Garages are already offering complimentary vehicles while the car is in the workshop, among other deals.
With the data from the connected car, car manufacturers can carve out an advantage. By using the data from the connected car, and combining it with data that they already have, such as model specifications, fleet performance and owner details, car manufacturers can craft a truly compelling, personalized package targeted at individual customers.
So, in this example scenario, what can help car manufacturers identify the elements that will help them put together the right offer to demanding customers? Car manufacturers will need the answers to these questions:
- When was the last service? What was done during that service?
- What additional services would the customer like to have?
- Is the customer loyal to his dealer for servicing, or does he like to shop around?
- Are there critical problems that need to be fixed? Is the customer or customer call centre aware of this? Has a service action been activated based on this?
- Are there known issues with the configuration of that car or its software versions and do they need to be upgraded?
- Are there upsell opportunities such as cleaning or reconditioning the car, a bike mount, or a new smartphone holder specific to the type they use?
- Has the customer opted-in to receiving these offers?
- Has the customer already made a service booking? Or missed earlier bookings?
Once these questions have been answered, car manufacturers will be in a much better position to make a personalized offer to the customer. One which will not only attract customers to use their servicing facilities, but also one which allows the revenue from each service visit to be optimised – for the dealer and the manufacturer.
And the customer? They will get the best possible experience.
If you’re interested in this topic, you will find in-depth analysis and innovative examples of how connected car data is being used in Winning the Connected Car Data Wars.
This post first appeared on Forbes TeradataVoice on 05/11/2015.