Each day brings us a new app, solution or service that makes life easier, increases access to critical information or expands our range of choices.
This leads to relentlessly elevating expectations of the brands with whom we do business. We all now want interactions, quick responses and personalized communications on any channel.
As a result, many brands have raised the bar. They are orchestrating end-to-end customer experiences that blend product and service, focusing on the moments that matter to each of us.
Traditional automakers and dealers have begun to address end-to-end customer experience, digital retailing and F&I transformation efforts.
Yet, aftersales and aftermarket services such as warranty, maintenance, repairs, roadside and technical assistance, recalls and proactive customer service remain more of an afterthought or a set of random acts.
In a “there’s-an-app-for-that” world, vehicle owners and users demand the same effortless, personalized and just-in-time service they experience elsewhere. But when it comes to delivering effortless ownership experiences, the industry still has many roadblocks to push through.
Consider the following: A loyal customer’s SUV encounters an issue that alerts the driver via the in-vehicle display. Despite being a connected vehicle, the alert is merely a light, with no connection back to the OEM or dealer.
The driver goes to your mobile app but can’t find any more information regarding the issue or see if it’s under warranty.
So he or she pushes the vehicle’s roadside-assist button, which calls your third-party roadside contact center that can only provide general information.
The customer uses a mobile phone to contact your in-house customer service team. Instead of knowing it’s a loyal customer, the service agent engages with the person as if he or she were a stranger to your brand.
This isn’t the fault of the agent, who has little history on this customer in one place. Nor does the agent have access to a prompt with the most-likely-issue diagnosis or most-appropriate timesaving set of steps to get the customer and vehicle back on the road ASAP.
The agents are forced to do their job with blinders on. When the customer finally arrives at the service department, the dealer must capture information for the first time – because the dealer hasn’t benefited from the earlier exchanges.
The dealer’s journey to repair the vehicle and get the warranty claim approved also has yet to begin, despite information about all of this being available well before the customer’s visit.
The issue is not a lack of systems of processes on how to handle every scenario described above. OEMs have portals, countless systems and apps that deal with nearly every issue.
The dealer doesn’t lack for a range of proprietary applications and tools from their DMS, CRM and specialty apps that make it easy to get consumers into the service department.
Nor is there a lack of know-how on how to best submit the warranty claim and get that reimbursement to the dealer account.
Rather, each stage, step, decision, process, interaction and data source is part of a symphony of individual silos, solutions and interactions that have never been properly reimagined as an end-to-end journey, nor orchestrated using technologies that connect, trigger and execute these activities to deliver specific outcomes.
There’s too much duplication of effort, too many manual processes and too much “that’s just the way it’s always been.” The customer suffers. Dealers waste time and resources. Aftersales operations remain inefficient. The brand is the ultimate casualty.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Sophisticated design thinking, enhanced collaboration methodologies and tools, and modern digital process and decisioning automation tools mean OEMs and dealers can stop making excuses.
The economics of putting owners first are compelling.
- Margins for aftermarket services are 25-30%, while median profit margins for automotive sales are only 9%. (McKinsey & Company)
- Automotive OEMs alone account for between 40% and 45% of the warranty expenses of all U.S.-based manufacturers. (Warranty Week)
- 72% of vehicle owners would pay a flat monthly fee for “invisible” effortless service, including convenience services such as vehicle pick up from and return to home. (Accenture)
We know about the tectonic shifts taking place in vehicle purchase and ownership models.
If the industry doesn’t make vehicle operation and ownership push-button easy, current and future generations of consumers could opt out of personal-vehicle ownership. (Wards Industry Voices contributor Steven P. Silver)
It’s time to say goodbye to aftersales orthodoxies, interaction silos and vertical thinking. OEMs and dealers need to get horizontal with end-to-end ownership experiences.
This is not too big a hill to climb.
(Steven P. Silver is Pegasystems’ vice president and global industry market leader-manufacturing, automotive and high tech.)