Consumers Want Automakers to Do Better—Here’s How to Meet Their Expectations

As cars become more advanced, styled and technology-rich, purchase and service environments have stayed largely the same. In the world of same-day delivery and instant gratification, today’s customers expect more and automakers aren’t keeping up.

Many automotive manufacturers have handed off the customer experience (CX) to dealers. According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Automotive Consumer Study, 78% of surveyed consumers rated the customer experience as a somewhat important or very important factor in choosing where to buy a vehicle. Unfortunately, survey respondents saw the dealership experience as a detriment. Over half (57%) said the dealership required too much paperwork and 42% said that the overall experience took too long. On top of that, price issues and haggling was an issue cited by 40% of respondents and lack of stock was problematic for 30%.

The survey results were loud and clear: Manufacturers are missing an opportunity to deliver on the promise of CX after a vehicle purchase. Nearly half of survey respondents (48%) were never contacted by the manufacturer after acquiring their vehicle and 22% were never contacted by the dealer. Digital touchpoints along the customer’s shopping journey are also missing the mark, including in-dealership tools like kiosks and tablets, (only 7% exceed expectations) communications like chat, email and social media (9%) and dealer websites (13%).

Exceed customer expectations

 We believe the time has come for automakers, dealers and financers to transform the customer journey, weaving not only CX, but workforce and partner experiences into an integrated human experience. This is the important part and it’s not optional: Involve all the humans in the value chain. And do this not only on the transactional level, but on personal, emotional and experiential levels as well.

Getting the human experience right requires understanding human values inside and outside of the category transaction. Analytics can help provide that insight. Values can shift based on a customer’s mindset and moment in the journey, so it’s critical for companies to understand which experiences and digital touchpoints drive loyalty and business results.  Automakers and dealers should also assess their organizational readiness to deliver on these values and develop a plan to respond.

Here’s the good news: Organizations that create exceptional experiences for their human ecosystems (customers, employees, partners) are twice as likely to outperform their peers in revenue growth over a three-year period. Aligning your company to human values has distinct economic value. But where to start?

When ready, automakers should focus on these five best practices to craft a successful human experience.

1. Be obsessed with the individual

Organizations can foster a more human and intimate approach by connecting with peoples’ values and continually finding ways to delight, empower, hear and engage them. Every interaction provides automakers the opportunity not just to meet expectations, but exceed them.

2. Proactively deliver on human needs

Automakers can improve on anticipating and understanding consumers’ individual needs. This means thinking about how values and engagement with their vehicles might shift over time. If automakers can increase satisfaction and make the individual’s life better in some way throughout the ownership journey—whether with an owner’s fan group, roadside assistance or traffic updates—they can drive lasting loyalty.

3. Execute with humanity

A vehicle is one of a consumer’s most expensive purchases. With this in mind, automakers can consider how to slow down or speed up the process according to the consumer’s desires. For example, allowing more time during test drives but cutting down on paperwork. To deliver exceptional experiences at scale, organizations should explore how advanced analytics and AI can help.

4. Instill an authentic human focus

Automakers should build an organizational culture where human needs and desires are at the center of everything they do. It’s critical that all stakeholders, including the manufacturer, dealers and aftermarket vendors, embrace the approach and work together to advance it.

5. Extend human-centricity

Automakers should consider how they can improve lives more broadly. By committing to reduce emissions or improve traffic, they can create change around the issues that are most important to their customers.

Embedding these practices requires organizations to shift from merely doing customer-focused actions to being obsessed with human experiences. Automakers have a unique opportunity to relate to human values, deliver powerful experiences and enrich their customer’s lives. Establishing these connections builds loyalty, and loyalty drives business results.