Digital and Automotive’s Second Pillar of Excellence

Digital Marketing

Despite a tremen­dous ded­i­ca­tion to tech­ni­cal exper­tise in auto­mo­tive, there is a dan­ger­ous lack of knowl­edge sur­round­ing a sec­ondary tier of excel­lence in the industry—that is, the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. While there appears to be a deep com­mit­ment among OEM exec­u­tives to change and improve in this area, there doesn’t seem to be any real progress being made. Lead­er­ship is not fos­ter­ing real trans­for­ma­tion with­in their com­pa­nies, and no one is tak­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty for mak­ing true change hap­pen. Every­one is wait­ing for some­one else to do it, and in the mean­time noth­ing is get­ting done.

One rea­son for this hes­i­ta­tion is the belief that tech­nol­o­gy alone can fix the prob­lem. While dig­i­tal is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent in real­is­ing tru­ly cus­tomer-dri­ven expe­ri­ences, cor­po­rate behav­iour sets the stan­dard for how the com­pa­ny will evolve. Busi­ness­es need to under­stand that dig­i­tal is more than just an IT project; it needs to be embed­ded in the com­pa­ny cul­ture. It is a fun­da­men­tal shift in how a busi­ness will be run in the future. Lead­ers need to ask their employ­ees for the ambi­tion and curios­i­ty that can rev­o­lu­tionise the way a com­pa­ny inter­acts with its cus­tomers and mar­kets.

I’ve seen many com­pa­nies where the exec­u­tive team has this ambi­tion, but two lev­els down in the cor­po­rate struc­ture that high-lev­el dri­ve meets with oppo­si­tion and resis­tance by employ­ees who want to hold on to how things have been run in the past. Busi­ness process­es need to be fixed to help employ­ees get past their fear of fail­ure and allow cre­ativ­i­ty to grow. The sta­tus quo needs to be defined as fail­ure and peo­ple incen­tivised to try new ideas and ways of doing things.

Chal­lenge your direct team

Chal­lenge your data and hold your lead­ers respon­si­ble to their com­mit­ments to cul­ti­vate change. Chal­lenge your ven­dors and treat them like real part­ners in your jour­ney to dig­i­tal bliss. The adver­tis­ers, mar­keters, and oth­er third-par­ty ven­dors that you use have touch­points with your cus­tomers that you don’t have. Use them.

Use them to help mea­sure brand aware­ness, mar­ket sen­ti­ment, and cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. Busi­ness­es need to be less arro­gant and actu­al­ly lis­ten to what the out­side world is telling them. And when change begins to take place, don’t dilute it with sta­t­ic busi­ness process­es. Road­blocks will be every­where, but deal­ing with them proac­tive­ly with new think­ing will be key. All too often, big ini­tia­tives wind up as minor process changes in the sta­tus quo that don’t cre­ate results for the organ­i­sa­tion. Real ideas are writ­ten off, and these ini­tia­tives fail.

Lead by exam­ple

Ful­ly sup­port those in the organ­i­sa­tion who are tru­ly try­ing to cre­ate change—regardless of where in the organ­i­sa­tion. Praise them, help them, incen­tivise them—they are your change agents! Also, make sure you aren’t leav­ing behind non­tech­ni­cal­ly savvy employ­ees due to learn­ing hur­dles. Edu­cate them. These peo­ple have val­ue and expe­ri­ence that are crit­i­cal to assem­bling the over­all wealth of knowl­edge con­tained in the employ­ee base. As the world goes dig­i­tal, every­one in the organ­i­sa­tion needs to adapt to the new rules of the game.

As we all know, in the busi­ness world a great prod­uct is nec­es­sary to suc­cess, and Euro­pean auto engi­neer­ing is the best in the world. How­ev­er, even those com­pa­nies with supe­ri­or prod­ucts still need to become mas­ters of the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. It’s an emerg­ing sec­ond pil­lar of excel­lence in this indus­try and fail­ure to achieve the high­est stan­dards will result in stag­nant growth.

Digital Marketing
Axel G. Heyenga

Posted on 02-20-2017


  • By Sameer Nanjangud - 4:59 AM on March 1, 2017   Reply

    Thanks for the arti­cle. I don’t agree to some of the points that you make. Like data dri­ven deci­sion mak­ing in the auto world. Dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion is already hap­pen­ing by huge leaps and bounds in mar­kets like India and Chi­na. Automak­ers are lead­ing the change is some cas­es, be it con­nect­ed retail expe­ri­ence of a full dig­i­tal immer­sive expe­ri­ence at an auto show. It gen­er­ates a lot of data and uti­liz­ing it as a part of sales fun­nel CRM and after-sales is crit­i­cal. Brands today are uti­liz­ing this data in order to reach out to prospects, cus­tomers and even repeat cus­tomers via car exchange pro­grams.

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