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Today’s Auto Buyers Expectations Go Beyond the Vehicles Themselves

Automotive manufacturers must strengthen dealer relationships for a better customer experience.

Customer expectations for purchasing and using vehicles are radically changing, according to “A Customer Experience Reboot,” a report on the automotive industry from Accenture, a global professional services company.

For the report, Accenture surveyed 7,500 car owners and 203 dealers across six countries and interviewed more than 20 automotive industry insiders, executives and experts. Accenture also analyzed more than 1.5 billion social media posts and 300 leading automotive companies’ investment transcripts.

Vehicle buyers now set higher standards than in the past for OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and dealers for a better customer experience, says the report: “The demand is shifting from vehicle performance, design and price (which remain important) toward more connected, virtual and responsible experiences.”

For a positive customer experience, Accenture’s survey revealed that beyond satisfaction with the vehicles themselves, four additional factors are critical for a positive customer experience.

Here are where the top four customer demands stood three years ago among auto buyers, compared to the anticipated importance of each three years from 2021:

1. Network and accessibility of dealers/workshop/repair shops

  • Three years ago: 66 percent
  • Three years from now: 74 percent

2. Data privacy and protection

  • Three years ago: 66 percent
  • Three years from now: 77 percent

3. Staff expertise

  • Three years ago: 65 percent
  • Three years from now: 75 percent

4. Sustainability and responsibility

  • Three years ago: 61 percent
  • Three years from now: 76 percent

Automotive manufacturers’ relationships with dealerships and repair shops heavily influence the customer’s overall experience.

“Today’s customer experience is built at multiple physical and digital touchpoints through an ecosystem of contributing parties,” says the report. “OEMs represent only one dimension of these touchpoints—through their dealerships and repair shops. These physical and digital customer interactions could act as the driving force behind the new customer experience.”

By focusing on new key performance indicators and breaking down silos to enhance data collection methods, combined with implementing “a more agile approach,” OEMs can reach consumers more easily and efficiently, says the report.

“Doing so will also require rethinking every facet of operations across the entire breadth of the ecosystem — from people to technology to processes,” according to the Accenture report. “The customer experience is, after all, a fluid dynamic—constantly changing. Serving customers today, and into the future, is no longer only about meeting their mobility needs.

“Customers can change brands at any time—and often do. Beyond engine power and vehicle features, OEMs must discern what customers really want. Today, OEMs (together with their dealers) have an opportunity to transcend their role as a mobility provider to become a life-long partner to their customers.”