Remote diagnostics has been offered as a main feature of telematics solutions from the very beginning by OEMs such as GM, Volvo, and BMW.
More recently, Ford has also added diagnostics as a feature on its hybrid phone-based SYNC system.
“With telematics penetration increasing and remote diagnostics well established as a core safety and security feature, automotive OEMs are now exploring how to extend their service approach to encompass genuine customer relationship management (CRM) to increase customer satisfaction and improve loyalty” says Dominique Bonte, Vice President and practice director for ABI Research. “Elements of this approach include predictive maintenance based on prognostics as well as up-selling and cross-selling applications and content.”
The Toyota Friend private social network, powered by Salesforce Chatter, connects Toyota customers, their cars, and their dealerships to share product and service information such as electric vehicle (EV) recharging alerts. The private network is extended to public social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It will eventually be available globally but is first offered in Japan on Toyota’s EV models and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHV).
A critical CRM issue to solve is setting up a collective and consistent ownership of the customer relationship across a multi-touchpoint environment and supporting multiple methods of communication. This includes email, social networking, face-to-face (dealer), in-car, portable devices, and print. Other issues include the complexity of communication and data collection, privacy protection, technical implementation, and integration of back-end CRM systems.
While transformative automotive trends such as connectivity, social networking, changing car ownership attitudes, and electrification tend to be overhyped, the equally important and long overdue transition from a manufacturing industry towards a service industry is often overlooked.
Interaction, communication, and the overall user experience will become as important as the physical product (the car), which has essentially remained the same for more than a century.
ABI Research says that by adopting a customer service strategy, OEMs such as Toyota with its social CRM approach will take an important lead in preparing the automotive industry of the future.