Auto firms adopt social, mobile for greater customer engagement

by Sohini Bagchi    Mar 19, 2013

car computer

Automotive firms including manufacturers and dealers are seeing a huge potential in online and social media for engaging with their existing and potential customers. According to a recent global automotive study by Capgemini, these companies are increasingly enriching customer experience by leveraging online and social media and this in turn is helping them in increasing their ROI.

The role of the Internet during the vehicle buying process is becoming increasingly important as web usage for both purchasing and research has increased. Most than 56 per cent of the customers are finding a dealer online, as a result of which automotive firms are and should be extremely proactive about their search activities. Moreover, websites should also offer a strong impression so that customers can get a personalized, comfortable and satisfying shopping experience, according to Capgemini.

According to the study, over 60 per cent of new car buyers have relied on positive comments posted on social networks about a car model, dealer or a manufacturer before taking a decision.  The Capgemini report highlighted the role played by social media to influence consumers is especially seen in developing markets where customers are 50 per cent more likely to purchase because of positive comments, and 35 per cent less likely to purchase because of negative comments, than are shoppers in mature markets.

Influence on purchase decision from family and friends are gradually declining paving the way for auto companies to invest in newer technologies such as social, cloud and mobile to enrich customer experience, states Krishna Dutta, Technical Head of Mohan Motors. He believes that interactive and user-friendly websites, social media profile and mobile information do play a role in attracting more customers.

Capgemini report noted that loyalty to brands and dealers is also on the rise owing to a greater adoption of this technology. In 2012, customer loyalty increased by 16 per cent for brands and by 11 per cent for dealers from 2011. The other observation Capgemini made was even though physical showrooms of automobile companies play a key role, virtual showrooms are also being increasingly recognized especially in the pre-buying research process.

The other area that is enriching customer experience is the “Connect me” technology.  Fifty-one percent of consumers in all markets anticipate that their next car will be connected. The connected car’s dashboard is “just another device” in a customer’s collection of desktops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. For the manufacturers and dealers, a connected car offers unprecedented opportunities for direct, customer-specific, targeted marketing, states the Capgemini report. Smart phone applications also provide a unique opportunity for manufacturers to have one-to-one connections to clients.

According to Vijayakrishna K.S, Senior IT manager, Hindustan Motors, mobile applications are poised to become a key channel of communication between consumers and manufacturers, consumers and dealers, and consumers and their vehicles. He believes that in the coming months, the industry will see more exciting apps with remote support features that will boost customer experience manifold.