As cars move towards full autonomy, carmakers need to move towards an end-to-end customer experience (CX) to serve their customers when everyone travelling is a passenger

“The iPhone changed our culture but its impact is just a pinprick compared with what the age of the smart car and the autonomous vehicle will bring,” explains Sitel Group Americas VP Business Development Matt Fry. “Imagine a device that lets you have real-time personal interactions with brands, services and even your connected home devices, that serves as a concierge, that can interact with buildings and the wider transport infrastructure, that can serve as a temporary address for deliveries, yet is also form of personal mobility.”

The automotive industry is going through the greatest and most exciting revolution in its 130-year history. The changes it will bring will be more profound than the launch of the Ford Model-T – the vehicle that made car ownership and mobility accessible to all. However, for OEMs to stay in the driving seat in an era where the car becomes a platform for connecting consumers to goods and services and for managing aspects of their daily life, they need to own the CX.

“The OEMs who own the complete experience will become the platforms of the future,” forecasts Fry. “I can see a day where automakers’ app stores, or payment platforms are spoken of in the same breath as iOS or Android platform providers. But for OEMs to get to this point, they need to understand their customers, now and the needs of drivers and passengers. Simply being omnichannel is quickly becoming table stakes.”

Connected cars connect with consumers

Carmakers have struggled to make the path to purchasing and owning a new vehicle an omnichannel, end-to-end experience. There are gaps between channels and between OEMs and dealerships. However, thanks to internet connectivity as standard on the majority of new cars sold in the U.S., plus hands-free support for both major smartphone operating systems, car companies have been quick to exploit this new channel’s potential. They’re already offering passengers access to parking, refueling and even retail services, as well as hands-free control of social media and messaging. But this is just the start.

“As the driver and passenger experience continues to offer owners more time and more in-car interaction and transaction opportunities, the need to provide a rich, personal experience grows,” says Fry. “Personal service has a much deeper and wider potential for carmakers than perhaps any other market. Brands that take a customer centric approach in rolling out features, services and end-to-end experiences will take the lead.”

Welcome to the passenger economy

Chip maker Intel, which is heavily involved in the push to make autonomous vehicles an everyday reality, believes that when cars are capable of driving themselves, they will create what in 2017 it dubbed the passenger economy – a $7 trillion business by 2050.

“Less than a decade ago, no one was talking about the potential of a soon-to-emerge app or sharing economy because no one saw it coming,” said the then Intel CEO Brian Krzanich “This is why we started the conversation around the Passenger Economy early, to wake people up to the opportunity streams that will emerge when cars become the most powerful mobile data generating devices we use and people swap driving for riding.”

Data-driven experiences and services

For OEMs to profit from the passenger economy, they will need to be able to harness data from every stage of the customer journey and be able to have a structured view of who each customer is and what he or she expects.

“So much of the experience must be driven by real-time, historic and predictive needs for customer care, sales, and maintenance support,” Fry points out. “The rich data generated by consumers pre-purchase, post-purchase and while in the car.”

An inability to do this could leave automotive firms vulnerable to disruption from companies that can. “OEMs have procured their brands over decades and have earned the sale or lease of their product,” says Fry.  “They should not give up the in-car experience to anyone – partner, yes, cede, no! That’s why when a customer is in a car, using the car’s platform, the carmaker has to meet that customer’s needs either directly or via an ecosystem of providers and services. But that ecosystem has to be built around customer experience.”

A partner for integrating customer experience

“To provide end-to-end services OEMs are going to be faced with a myriad of decisions in terms of how to integrate upstream and downstream service providers and their underlying systems,” Fry says. “For instance, think about the number of vendors and partners it takes for a car company to offer its customers the ability to use their cars as a delivery address for packages.”

Automakers are going to need to partner with an organization that can join the dots and ensure a unified, consistent CX.

For the past 30 years Sitel Group has been providing this missing link in delivering a connected customer experience. From leveraging data insights to get closer to customers to implementing and optimizing an omnichannel strategy that scales with your customer base, find out how we can help your business take advantage of the passenger economy.


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