The multi-channel way to multiply after-sales success
Five ways automotive dealerships can boost the online take up of after-sales services.
The spectacular rise of online car buying over the last couple of years reveals how much many customers like the convenience and clarity of dealing digitally with distributors. Applying a similar digital approach to transform the customer experience of buying after-sales products and services holds equal, if not greater, potential to boost car dealer profitability.
A survey of dealers and OEMs by NTT DATA reveals five key recommendations for dealers looking to raise their competitiveness by improving the online after-sales purchasing process. The measures apply across the four most important digital channels dealers use when reaching out to their customers – website, app, connected car and social media.
Each channel offers distinct opportunities to engage with customers and help them reach a buying decision.
- Website: A website enables a dealer to provide comprehensive information about the products and services available. This is already a well-used channel by customers, so it’s vital to make after-sales prominent on the home page, with clear pricing and a guide to the booking process.
- Apps: Like websites, apps are used widely and enjoy good customer acceptance. A dealer’s customer data can provide new ways for selling after-sales products and services via an app. For example, an app can create opportunities for presenting personalised service booking suggestions based on information such as the vehicle’s mileage and the customer’s calendar availability.
- Connected car: A fast-growing opportunity as OEMs build connectivity into their cars , this channel offers similar opportunities for personalisation as apps. However, the full potential of the connected car lies in its ability to take advantage of the vehicle’s sophisticated infotainment system. High-resolution display, intelligent voice control and touchscreens are compelling features that enable customers to access personalised information and conveniently order after-sales products and services digitally.
- Social media: A valuable channel that taps into the latest social media developments to target specific offers, such as parts and accessories, to individual groups of potential buyers. The challenge lies in the early recognition of innovations arising from the constantly changing social media landscape and using them to become a frontrunner in winning new customers.
Five recommendations to drive the shift to digital after-sales
1. Offer superior added value:
Customers will be more willing to use digital channels to buy after-sales products and services when it is more convenient and informative than using other channels. Offering tangible added value, such as an easy service booking process with clear pricing, not only increases use by customers but creates ways to upsell and cross-sell products and services.
2. Design a clear channel strategy:
The distinct and powerful advantages of each channel need to be exploited to the full. A clear strategy with data being shared across channels is therefore vital to make channel use efficient for dealers and OEMs. It’s also important to monitor changes in digital behaviour to be able to swiftly adapt to meet new customer expectations.
3. Rethink dealership processes:
To get the highest returns from online after-sales interaction, dealers need to change employee thinking and encourage them to use digital processes and actively promote the channels to customers. This will increase online bookings for routine servicing and other regular work, reducing the handling of time-consuming telephone calls to make bookings, freeing up staff time to focus on more difficult customer enquiries.
4. Accelerate system integration:
The full potential of digitising after-sales can only be achieved by adapting dealer IT systems. This means integrating internal systems and eliminating siloes for a smooth and seamless flow of data for streamlined processes with minimal administrative effort. System integration between dealers and OEMS also needs to be addressed.
5. Improve cooperation between dealers and OEMs:
For dealers to take full advantage of the app and connected car channels, they need the support of the OEMs. In particular, a comprehensive after-sales customer experience entails "data sharing" between OEM and dealer. Consolidating dealer and OEM data is hugely beneficial for both parties, although data protection and data sovereignty must be taken into account.
Customers do not typically differentiate between OEM and dealer. From the customer’s perspective, there is only interaction with the brand. The message the brand conveys, for example innovation, exclusivity or lifestyle, needs to be part of the customer experience across all channels and interactions. This can only be achieved by consistently seeing things from a customers’ point of view and applies to all the above recommendations. Only in this way is it possible to overcome organisational boundaries that create the shortfalls that customers see.