Authored by David Morton, Sales and Solutions Director at Arvato CRM Solutions UK
As technology advances our cars are becoming increasingly reliable and the traditional customer touchpoints of routine servicing and maintenance are becoming less frequent. This trend is set to grow in prominence as more electric vehicles (EVs) join the vehicle parc, leading some industry voices to question if regular monitoring, such as the MOT, will even be required at all.
To put the potential reliability of EVs into perspective, a standard battery electric car can contain as few as 20 moving parts compared with a traditional internal combustion engine, which typically contains over 500. This significantly reduces the chances of failures in EVs.
With more reliable cars and less maintenance on the cards, the traditional opportunities for manufacturers and aftercare providers to interact with customers will become increasing limited. It’s time for the industry to start finding new ways to maintain customer contact and build relationships.
So how can you navigate this new customer service landscape?
Manufacturers: data-led communications
Through the rapid advancement of vehicle technology, we’ve hurtled firmly into the new world of the connected car. And, it’s the manufacturers that are in pole position to use this to their advantage as the primary relationship owner responsible for building technology into their models.
Ultimately this creates the knowledge silver bullet – ‘data’. Increasingly, manufacturers can access information around driver behaviour, alongside vehicle health, and this opens the door to new and interesting opportunities to communicate with customers.
While it’s anticipated they’ll be less frequent, on a practical level, manufacturers will hold the knowledge needed to assist with any technical queries or maintenance requirements. With many customers experiencing some level of distress or frustration when things go wrong with their vehicle, as always, this a vital opportunity to demonstrate exceptional customer service while solving problems.
Moving beyond the maintenance relationship, understanding a customer’s driver behaviour and vehicle usage means manufacturers can start to communicate on a more proactive and personalised level. For example, this could mean offering customers regular reports and advice on their usage or tailoring offers and finance deals to suit their needs, before the customer even starts their research or reaches out to manufacturers themselves.
It’s these additional routes to providing consistent, contextual communication which add value that will help nurture long-term relationships between a manufacturer and their customers in the future.
Aftermarket garages: catering for loyal customers
Nowhere is the emergence of electric vehicles anticipated to cause more disruption than in the independent aftermarket.
But, there is a real opportunity for garages to become an indispensable part of the EV maintenance journey. The traditional garage is built on the strength of its relationships, with loyal customers returning again and again once they have found a trusted mechanic that provides exceptional service.
There’s no denying car mechanics face a complex training landscape to equip themselves with the skills they need to service and maintain EVs. However, if garages can invest in the correct tools and develop the necessary skills now to continue to service those loyal customers, they will give themselves an advantage as EVs become a more regular feature on UK roads.
Infrastructure service providers: new opportunities
A key element of the new automotive landscape, and one that has not previously been part of the customer service maintenance mix, is EV infrastructure. Refuelling has shifted from filling up at a petrol station to navigating a new network of vehicle charging points, be it in carparks, along streets, retail parks or in drivers’ own homes.
This opens up new opportunities for manufacturers of these charging points to develop a relationship with their customers and provide them with an outstanding experience.
Perhaps the most straightforward is managing infrastructure within drivers’ homes. Depending on the technology, there may be an opportunity for charge point manufacturers to gather data remotely, and proactively contact customers when they require repairs or servicing. Or, they can maintain regular dialogue with drivers, offering advice and guidance on how to use their technology, so they will naturally be a customers’ first choice in the event of any queries.
The customer service landscape for public infrastructure is more complex. It is challenging for service providers to build rapport with their customers, when interactions will be limited to drivers experiencing problems when using these charge points. Instead, providers must ensure it is as simple as possible for customers to contact them if they are having difficulties – and that the agent they are connected with has the knowledge to help them solve any challenges quickly and easily.
This comes down to a number of key factors, beginning with training. Customer service agents need to be equipped with robust technical knowledge. They will also require an intuitive knowledge base from which they can provide qualitative responses and, importantly, access vehicle data in order that relevant, intuitive insight can be provided to the customer in real time. This combination will support drivers on the go, who will have limited expertise and will rely on clear guidance to help them get moving. Ensuring that charge points are built and installed with customer service in mind is a key consideration for infrastructure providers.
The electrification of our road transport is set to turn customer service as we know it on its head. By preparing now and embracing the customer service opportunities presented by the growing adoption of electric vehicles, each link in the automotive supply chain can continue to develop meaningful customer relationships.
Read how these data-led customer solutions can futureproof your customer experience in the EV era
Read more about how the industry is preparing for the electric vehicle take over.