Mobile Engagement for the Automotive Industry: Kickstarting Your Customer Experience

OpenMarket – November 7, 2014

If there is one thing that most people will always want in their lives, it arguably has to be a car. Cherry, beast, storm are just a few of the popular nicknames we use to describe our vehicles. Automobile companies understand this relationship much better than the others (that’s why, perhaps, they are in this business), and hence aim to offer new and innovative beasts to their target audience.

For potential customers, however, one of the most important factors while buying, or even shortlisting a car, is the experience that they expect to receive from the auto company during the entire purchasing lifecycle. When I say experience, I don’t mean the quality of the product (that’s for the designers and engineers to decide), but rather the ease and simplicity of interactions between the buyer and the auto company, right from the day he or she books an appointment for a test drive to the day the car is unowned. These interactions usually take place over both offline and online channels, but with a growing preference from both the parties to interact over online channels like portal, mobile, social media, and email.

One such channel that provides an excellent opportunity for auto companies to connect and engage with their target audience over entire lifecycle is mobile messaging.

Let’s delve into some details, and for the sake of simplicity, let’s divide the interactions that happen between the customer and the auto company in two categories – Pre-Purchase phase and Post-Purchase phase – practically covering the entire customer lifecycle. During the Pre-Purchase phase, the buyer focuses on gathering information about the car, interacting with dealers, taking test drives, checking the availability of financial assistance, etc., while the Post-Purchase phase includes the service and maintenance aspects associated with the car.

Now let’s look at it from the eyes of the customer and understand how self-service features enabled by mobile messaging can help the auto company provide an exceptional experience during both phases.

Pre-Purchase phase

  • Book a test drive – instead of calling the dealer and booking an appointment, the prospect can send an SMS to achieve the same. For example, “Text <model name> to book a test drive.”
  • Locate a dealer – in addition to searching for a dealer’s location on the web, the prospect can trace the dealer location by texting a simple message. For example, “Text HONDA <Zip Code> to get the address of nearest dealer.”
  • Get personalized offers – if the prospect looks like a potential buyer, the dealer can shorten the purchasing cycle by sending personalized messages about special offers only for her. For example “Reply to get special financing deals for Hondas this month!”

Post-Purchase phase

  • Check delivery status – some vehicles have waiting times associated with them. The customer can track the delivery status by just sending a message. For example, “Text <booking receipt #> to find the tentative delivery date.”
  • Receive reminders on service – forgetting to take your car for service is no big deal. Auto companies can leverage SMS to remind customers about the upcoming/overdue service schedules.
  • Book a service – instead of contacting the call center every time (and potentially waiting on hold), the customer can send an SMS to book a slot. For example, “Text <Car model> <date> to book a service appointment.”
  • Provide Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSS) – enable a two-way communication for customers to provide service feedback to the company via text messaging. No need spend time calling or emailing customers during office hours.

The above list is not exhaustive, but only a subset of ideas for how auto companies can use mobile messaging to transform the customer experience. Also, this list only references SMS. If other messaging options (MMS and Push Notifications) are added or mobile is integrated with other communication channels, companies can move a few steps further in delighting their customers.

One important point before companies proceed with mobile – mobile messaging is not for every communication. It does not make sense to bombard customers by sending too many messages; this will certainly antagonize them. However, the trick lies in wisely mixing mobile with other relevant communications happening across other channels to provide a consistent and simplified customer experience.

OpenMarket’s Mobile Engagement Platform can ensure easy setup and configuration of the above- mentioned use cases to provide an exceptional customer experience. Further, the modular nature of our platform allows companies to integrate these mobile initiatives with existing campaigns across other channels.

If you are interested in knowing more about other ideas that can increase customer satisfaction or if you have any questions, please contact us.

As they say at the end – that’s all folks. Time to head home on my cherry.

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