The advantages of digitizing the after-sale process in the auto industry | NTT DATA

Mon, 06 February 2023

Leveraging technology to elevate what comes after purchasing a vehicle

The automotive industry’s investment in digitalization and advancements in technology is thought to be around $82 billion. This includes headline-grabbing transformations such as self-driving technology and digital keys on smartphones. However, digital transformation in the auto sector has a much wider impact. It can be used across the whole lifecycle of a car from manufacturing to sales to what comes after a purchase: maintenance.

As all industries prepare to face even greater economic turmoil that could impact their bottom line, providing a loyalty-building customer experience that encourages the retention of customers is a priority. With 96% of customers believing that customer experience is a key part of brand loyalty and it costs less to retain customers than attract new ones, the digitalization of the aftersale process is a smart move for innovative automotive companies.

The advantages of digitizing the pre-sale process

While the auto sector involves the sale and maintenance of physical products, there are elements of the after-sales service that can be digitized to improve efficiency and the quality of the customer experience. When buying such high-ticket items, the expectations of customers are elevated and digital components enable companies to achieve high standards.

Purchasing an auto maintenance service is typically a multi-step process that includes drafting contracts, setting up payment plans, and mechanic appointments. For this process to be seamless and transparent, the customer should have easy access to regular updates and check-ins through the use of, for example, a customer-facing app.

From the perspective of the seller, streamlining the customer experience not only improves their customer retention rate but saves them time and money during the purchase process. When dealing with repairs, they can increase the number of cars they can service per day through the digitalization of appointment booking, billing and customer updates.

These processes have previously relied on paper trails, phone calls and physical visits. By migrating to technology where possible, they are much more efficient for all.

So, what does the digitalization of the aftersale specifically involve?

Digitizing the after-sale service and why it’s crucial for a high-quality customer experience

The chance to create a loyalty-building customer experience starts from the first interaction. In the case of maintenance or having to repair a car, this is usually booking an appointment to visit the dealership. Issues such as customers not receiving appointment confirmations or the aftersales team not receiving all the information of a client, can arise when there’s a lack of a centralized system.

The right software ensures centralization, accessible data storage and communication between key parties automatically. An app can be linked to this software to make booking appointments convenient while gathering key information about the enquiry.

Also, since the information about the customer is stored in the cloud, preparation can be made for the appointment from anywhere. Instead of waiting for the customer to arrive to make any progress towards processing the sale, the aftersales assistance can prepare a budget according to the needs the customer has stated from their home. As always, the less time customers have to spend waiting, the better.

BMW has driven innovation in this area by automatically sending out questionnaires to customers to analyze their performance. Negative feedback automatically triggers a ticket to be opened and notifies the team to take action. The Northern Europe team was able to respond to customer comments within 24 hours and resolve issues within 5 days.

Improving workshop repairs and maintenance

Workshops are also responsible for maintenance and repairs which in itself can be a time-consuming and frustrating process for customers. Digitization can streamline and elevate this as a digital file is created for each and every customer and shared throughout the aftersale team. This team includes the mechanics that can ensure they have the right spare parts in stock ahead of time. Waiting on the right part lengthens repair time significantly.

By having access to both the digital file and the app which facilitates a fluid communication, the company can anticipate customer needs such as notifying them of software updates and when they need to renew their guarantee. It can even be used to confirm approval for maintenance jobs and changes without the owner having to go in-store.

An issue with branded workshops and dealerships in particular is an inconsistency in customer service across locations. Volkswagen Group Australia used digital transformation to solve this by introducing the Accelerate to Wow program that gave centralized insights into both customer and employee experience. This gave them the data they needed to ensure consistency across the brand and from end-to-end of the sales process.

The advantages of aftersale optimization

Digitizing the after-sale process in the auto sector comes with many benefits. By enhancing the customer experience, customer retention and loyalty are improved. This directly impacts a company’s bottom line.

It also provides workshops and dealerships with the data they need to make all their processes as efficient as possible. Being able to book an appointment digitally saves time and money, it improves customer feedback and tracking, and facilitates the ability to analyze best practices and identify areas for improvement. Are they meeting demand? Or have appointment and response wait times got too long?

Technological advancements are providing the automotive industry with new ways to manage their workflow and fulfill the needs of customers. With an improved performance on all counts, an improvement in profit will follow. Here at NTT DATA we pride ourselves in having extensive knowledge and hands-on experience digitizing the after-sale process for countless clients.