With the growth of the global automotive e-commerce market forecast1 to grow from $75.28 billion in 2022 to $213.08 billion by 2029, it presents huge opportunities for automotive players wanting to compete for the more digital-savvy driver.

The digital marketplace opens new distribution channels and revenue streams for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) if they can evolve. While many OEMs have started to make the transition to their digital platforms, there is still a long way to go if they are to fully compete in the digital marketplace. This is highlighted in Sophus 3’s 2021 research which showed the average dwell time on an OEM’s website was 2 minutes 38 seconds in comparison to Autotrader’s dwell time of 9 minutes 25 seconds.

So, where are OEMs going wrong? Other automotive players in this space have a more streamlined digital purchase journey, leading with customer experience and providing the information they need to make a more informed purchase. And while the customer experience will be delivered by machines, OEMs must remember the audience and humanise the customer experience if they are to succeed. How?

  1. Interact like a human
    Use the technology available to ensure your digital platform engages its visitors by interacting like a humanCognitive technologies assist brands and their customers to relate like real people. Each encounter (using machine learning) at every touchpoint is more human as a result. Conversational Artificial Intelligence uses natural language processing (NLP) to enable a more natural voice and chat exchange.Experiential technologies such as image recognition, augmented reality, and virtual reality allow for more personal experiences across virtual channels. Contextual Artificial Intelligence helps companies know which offers to make, based on what’s going on in a customer’s life at any given time.
    ‘IBM Institute for Business Value’ “The cognitive effect on automotive” Aug 2021
    IBM said, in 2021, there were approximately 40m autonomous vehicles, generating 160,000 gigabytes of data daily! “For automotive companies, this data has significant potential for helping them create exemplary customer experiences and personalised marketing campaigns.” New capabilities are needed to access the full spectrum of available data and translate that data into insights that help drive future innovations. And that’s where cognitive computing comes in. 
  2. Care like a human
    Some people say, as a result of Covid, customer care (or customer support) is getting a “promotion” and is becoming central to brand relationship. While customer experience is so much more than what’s typically called “customer service”, customer care has never been more central.Why? Well increasingly, in a digital world, it’s the only way a customer can engage with a real person who represents your brand. That means customer care is playing a bigger role in the digital world… it’s where it all comes together.
    In the McKinsey 2022 ‘State of Customer Care Survey’, they quote…

    “These results demonstrate that in a digital world customer care is now a major opportunity for businesses. Done well—through a combination of technology and human touch—it is an area where companies can drive loyalty through a more personalised customer journey while unlocking greater productivity, increased revenue, improved job satisfaction, and real-time customer insights.” 
  3. Connect like a human
    The power of employee experience to drive your customer experience will become more apparent, as you and your customers rely more and more on digital channels. We all know it’s employee experience that so often drives the quality of customer experience. Moving forward, employee experience will be even more essential in a digital world.As customer care becomes an urgent channel for delivering customer experience, all the time and effort that goes into strengthening the experience of the customer care front line, will have a greater impact on the outcomes of your customers.The front-line employee’s ability to embody the brand’s culture, character, and values, will make all the difference.
    In April 2022, Bain & Co reported that “companies with engaged employees earn more. In fact, they can pull in 2.5x more revenue compared to brands with low engagement levels.” 
  4. Understand like a human
    Going forward, more customer interaction data will get converted into insight to drive both better experience and stronger revenue. Brands have already invested heavily in omni-channel. This enables them to interact seamlessly with customers across email, chat, voice, text and social.They own this data but very few take advantage of it and rarely is it analysed. They’re not even turning it into actionable insight or using it to improve the experience, personalise it and ideally convert opportunities into additional revenue.
    Research by ‘Aberdeen’ in December 2020 found that brands that use data to personalise experiences “enjoy 9.1x greater annual growth in customer satisfaction rates and 5.7x greater annual increase in customer lifetime value.”
  5. Provide choice like a human
    A brand’s ability to foster human decision-making is key in today’s digital world. Real people make real choices. And real people grant other people the right to choose. Brands should too if they want to interact with customers as humans.People offer choice because it honours who we are, and it’s how we want to be treated.Likewise, customers want to be asked how a problem should be remedied. Those able to exercise influence on decision-making say they have better customer experience as a result.
  6. How does this relate to the automotive world?
    There are two core areas that influence a buyer’s purchasing decision, and that’s the cost and the specifications desired. We all know several online retailers can compete on price, but it’s often the specifications functionality that sometimes let down a digital provider. If you have all the information a potential customer needs to make that human choice, you have the best chance of getting that sale. However, if your website is sluggish, lacks the most current vehicle information, or the ability to compare similar vehicles side-by-side, the digital purchase journey is broken, and your prospect may go elsewhere.

The content from this article is an extract from JATO’s recent webinar “Understanding Automotive Data in an Online World” which includes further research and insights from Sophus 3 and JATO. Learn more about automotive digital marketplace solutions here.

1 Fortune Business Insights