How Honda and Hyundai Are Driving Meaningful Customer Experiences

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The following article is by Jim Hoostal, Executive Director, Automotive at Interbrand:

Auto dealers, OEM brands, finance providers, and tier one suppliers anticipate massive changes in the automotive industry over the next few years. Technology and emerging entrants into this category are redefining how consumers shop, buy, own, use, and drive cars and, thus, the industry has to react.

TLS Summits, an event organizer that provides summits that are exclusive, relevant, and industry-focused, hosted the Automotive CX Summit in June to focus on these changes.

The interactive two-day event featured thought leaders providing their insights on how to successfully solve the challenges the industry is facing by leveraging customer experience, social media, marketing, data analytics, mobility, and service strategies. The agenda consisted of a wide array of industry experts and company leaders, all with a unique perspective on the topic.

TLS Automotive CX Summit 2018

It’s probably not a surprise to many that the automotive retail experience hasn’t met—and still doesn’t always meet—the expectations of modern consumers. Speed, transparency, and technology have improved the experience in nearly every other industry, but the car shopping and purchasing process have barely evolved over the years. Dean Evans, CMO of Hyundai Motor America, talked about how Hyundai and its dealer body have collaborated to become the first U.S. car brand to modernize the car buying experience with a comprehensive retail-focused initiative.

Called “Shopper Assurance,” this new program is positioning Hyundai as a brand that is transforming automotive retail to better meet consumer expectations which, in turn, will drive higher sales and grow market share. Hyundai leveraged data and insights to make this significant shift, and close collaboration with its dealer body made it a reality. Data and analytics, as well as customer-centric strategies, are key enablers of change to meet evolving marketplace needs.

While new marketing technologies can offer promises of improved efficiency and attribution, building a strong automotive brand still starts with creating strong consideration. Tom Peyton, AVP of Marketing Operations for American Honda Motor Co., addressed several recent marketing challenges Honda has encountered and how they overcame them by maintaining their unrelenting commitment to have the most satisfied customers in the industry.

Peyton shared that central to Honda’s brand building efforts are its product development strategy and focus on achieving retail sales leadership in each vehicle segment in which the brand competes. Honda maintains a retail focused strategy (versus fleet sales), which pays off in higher resale values for customers at trade-in time, and ultimately lowers Honda’s vehicle incentives costs, all contributing to the brand’s long-term value.

These are two examples of what leading auto brands are doing today, and they’re just getting started. Nearly every day, headlines talk about major changes that will impact all facets of retail, and the automotive industry isn’t immune to those changes. Although this industry has experienced success operating on a tried-and-true model, transformational change is on the horizon.

As Ryan Brazelton, Executive Creative Director at Interbrand, discussed in his presentation on The Future of Retail, change is happening from every direction—new technologies, entrants, business models, customer expectations—and, as a result, automotive brands and their retailers must evolve and develop new strategies to resonate with consumers in new, creative ways. It’s no longer just about selling or servicing a car; these players must become mobility providers.

Engaging consumers in this new world is dependent on delivering customer experiences that meet increasingly demanding expectations. These experiences have to be achieved in a way that is relevant, yet profitable, and accomplishing this is becoming progressively more difficult for automotive brands.

The TLS Automotive CX Summit provided a forum to discuss these imminent shifts, the changes that are already taking place, and speculation about what the future holds. Addressing these challenges in the automotive marketplace requires technology to digitize and automate processes, as well as the development of consumer-centric strategies that leverage data, customer insights, and cultural change.

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