Next-Level Customer Engagement in the Automotive World
For the past few months, I have been travelling around Germany, advocating both mindset shift as well as the strategic change that should take place in the world of contact centers. From the IBM Think stage at the IAA Mobility 2021 in Munich, to the Green Auto Summit 2021 in Stuttgart, all the way to the World Class Customer Interaction 2021 in Frankfurt, I tried to get both the Automotive world as well as the Contact Center & Customer Experience world to understand and accept that a change should happen in the Contact Center industry. And during these events, I came across many experts, had great discussions & I think it is time to share some of the insights, that I have shared already, with the LinkedIn Community.
From Cost-Consuming Center to Value-Generating Center
The idea of having a contact center for transactional and support related operations is very common, yet an outdated approach. For ages, contact centers have been considered as an inescapable cost rather than a meaningful value addition to the organization. All that is fast changing thanks to the rising expectations of customers who won’t compromise on customer experience anymore & the rise of new digital tools. The increased customer adoption of remote and digital channels is providing an invaluable opportunity to evolve contact centers into real revenue/value generation hubs. And value can be many things that positively influence the bottom-line of a company, e.g. revenue, customer experience.
By changing mindsets and adapting the new role that your contact center should have, you will be transforming the contact center to a value generating customer engagement hub. And only by integrating Customer Engagement activities and include it part of both Customer Experience & Marketing strategies, that’s when the true value of the Customer Engagement Center can be realized.
The Contact Center Evolving Role in the Automotive world
Many of the automotive contact centers are focused on supporting customers & drivers during breakdowns or when there is a complaint, yet the contact center definitely has an evolving role in the automotive world, especially in the context of new sales models. With the introduction of direct2customer sales along with much higher need for assisted sales funnel & with less involvement of traditional dealers, the need to change the perception of what automotive contact centers should be is required, to ensure the success of the new sales approaches being adapted by many OEMs.
Buying a car has always been a personal & emotional process for most of us. It has always been influenced by the physical & direct contact with both the car salesperson. Yet, things have changed for a while now and customers gotten used to buying products online, especially since the COVID19 pandemic, according to a study, organizations’ customer interactions were 80% digital in 2020. Today, end customers are increasingly comfortable doing business online. Even after the pandemic, online sales in the automotive industry will remain an integral part of our daily lives.
With OEMs moving towards direct2customer sales approaches and the need to keep some personal interaction on a digital level is highly crucial to create added value for customers, it is important to offer them direct communication in these early phases of the purchase cycle. Social media, telephone, video and live chat on the website are great contact channels to enable the customer to get in touch with the relevant contact person quickly and individually, thus increasing customer satisfaction right at the start of the customer journey. Even in more flexible usership models, such as Subscription & car sharing, the need for customer engagement is still there.
How Contact Center can add a value?
There are many different way a Customer Engagement Center generates value for the company, be it in sales or aftersales, also by taking an active role in managing the sales funnel and customer lifetime value. Part of the key value generating opportunities are In-/out-bound telephony as well as digital channels (such as chat, messaging and social media), where the Customer Engagement Centers can support in, as the natural role, providing exceptional customer support and services as well as roadside & technical assistance. But also enable more value generating opportunities by enabling the following:
- Inbound Sales: Selling products and services to incoming customer traffic generated by sales campaigns via phone, chat, SMS, messaging, and email.
- Outbound Tele-sales: Acquiring new customers and selling additional products and services to existing customers.
- Service to sales: Transforming customer-service inquiries to up-, Cross- & on-Sell opportunities.
- Outbound Retention: Retaining customers, responding to customers’ cancellation requests with efforts to retain them-or winning back previous customers with specialized offers.
Proactive Customer Engagement is Key in Value-Generation Engagement Operations
Proactive service places customer convenience at the center of its engagement strategy, preemptively delivering information and support before the customer has to make the ask.
Value -Generation through Customer Engagement Centers also includes a transition from reactive customer care to proactive customer engagement — especially in a high involvement, high-value product like cars, where the customer desire for authentic, meaningful experiences is real! (e.g. knowing about an upcoming service need and addressing it before it comes up). This can only be achieved with enabling the Customer Engagement Center agent the access to some Customer Insights.
Customer insights are the key differentiator, because actual knowledge (or reliable predictions) are the best triggers for proactive customer engagement (e.g. insights about car usage as trigger for personalized engagement). Proactive Customer engagement is the next big thing, as according to some studies, 68% of customers are impressed when they receive proactive customer service calls and notifications.
Fast insights-to-action is very crucial differentiator in the world of modern automotive customer engagement, being able to predict issues before customers encounter them and proactively contact the customer to resolve it before it happens, will lead to higher customer satisfaction and increase their loyalty to the brand. With data ingested from surveys and used to gauge metrics like customer sentiment that automatically appear in employee dashboards, businesses of varying sizes can better identify deficiencies before it’s too late.
So, For the world of automotive to leverage the major opportunities that most of the OEMs have neglected in the past years, is of them to follow the following steps:
- Transform the Contact Center from Cost Center to Value Center.
- Develop your Sales, Marketing & Aftersales business development strategies with the Customer Engagement Center in the heart them.
- Utilize data to enable the Customer Engagement Center agents to provide pro-active customer services as well as cross/up/on-selling opportunities during their interactions with your customers.
And remember, Customer Engagement Center is all about creating value for both customers as well as brands.