Even with changing consumer trends, disruptive competition and increased innovation, traditional automotive firms can secure their future by embracing digital and customer experience

It’s no exaggeration to say the automotive industry is going through the greatest revolution in its history. The impact of the changes we’ve already seen and the changes to come will be more profound than the launch of the Ford Model T or the assembly line on which it was mass produced. 

If automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and established ecosystem providers want to be at the wheel as we drive into an era where the car becomes as much a platform for connecting consumers to goods and services as a means of connecting them from point A to point B, they need to take full ownership of the customer experience (CX) today. 

But this is a challenge because the very notion of CX, of what you’re expected to deliver, is also changing. Your customers are already digital by default and thanks to their interactions with the likes of Apple, Netflix and Amazon, their expectations have never been higher. A tailored service personalized to an individual customer’s specific situation is quickly becoming the norm.

However, what remains constant is that consumers still value convenience, ease and a speedy response with the right resolution whenever they have an issue.

Time to close the gaps

This is why traditional industry participants are playing catch up. Gaps have opened up in their customer journeys – whether it’s between physical and digital channels; between manufacturers and dealerships; or between dealers and financing and after-sales services – and this is leading to weaker bonds and missed opportunities across the overall vehicle ownership experience.

And, of course, at the same time the size of these gaps are being compounded because a new breed of disruptive businesses has driven into town. From ride hailing and ride sharing, to flexible leasing and subscription services, they’re expertly leveraging data and analytics and pose a genuine challenge to the establishment. 

Existing beyond the traditional automotive value chain, these businesses are being powered into the mainstream thanks to the data which flows throughout their organizations unimpeded, enabling them to put the customer at the heart of every decision they make. 

And, as the wider industry grapples with digitalization, these disruptors would appear to be in pole position for winning the race for the customer. But the race has only just begun.

Shaping the automotive experience of the future

Automotive OEMs have brand power and the ability to build partnerships across the ecosystem on their side. People will always need personal mobility and over the past 130 years, the world’s defining automotive brands have been its most trusted providers. There is still a huge value in their brands that the new players are yet to earn. 

This is why even as the sharing economy expands, OEMs can remain a central force in shaping the automotive experience of the future. But only if they continue along the road to digital, connected and personalized customer experiences. 

All businesses within the automotive ecosystem need to move from being product-centric to customer-centric. They need to look beyond the traditional value chain for partners that can help them develop the products and services that will define the mobility services of the future. And they need the tools and the capabilities to decode the data that reveals consumers’ needs in order to deliver on their expectations.

But crucially, they have to do it all without ever forgetting that what customers value most is an experience that maximizes their ease and convenience.

From the road to production to the path to purchase via finance, insurance and dealing with dealerships; Sitel Group can help any business in the automotive industry get closer to their customers.

To learn more about the challenges facing all businesses within the automotive industry download our white paper: 


Mike Small

CEO Americas for Sitel Group