Driving Customer-Centricity in the Automotive Industry


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Monday, December 13, 2021

Gone are the days where customers would wander from dealership to dealership until they found the right car for the right price. Nowadays, automotive brands have to go above and beyond if they hope to engage and attract today’s consumers.

Article 5 Minutes
Driving Customer-Centricity in the Automotive Industry

This means that not only are vehicles getting smarter and more sophisticated, but so are the marketing techniques and customer service strategies of the brands trying to sell them. It also means that car retailers need to place customer-centricity firmly in the drivers seat if they hope to reflect the increasingly sophisticated needs and behaviours of todays automotive consumers.

In this article, well take a look at the customer experience (CX) challenges facing the automotive industry, and how these can be tackled to help drive innovation.

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The CX challenges facing the automotive industry

Retailers in the automotive industry are facing a number of CX challenges, hindering their abilities to become customer centric:

  • Cars no longer being seen simply as a must-have possession; instead, they are increasingly being treated as a service, increasing the long-term demands on dealerships and manufacturers.
  • Greater connectivity and new technologies built into cars means that there is now a greater demand for connected technologies and cross-channel integrations throughout the customer lifecycle.
  • The younger generation is buying more vehicles than their predecessors and when they need help, they want a quick and easy way to speak to the manufacturer or their teams.
  • Marketing to Millennials and Gen Z is more difficult and requires omnichannel approaches and the use of online tools like social media and WhatsApp.

How automotive retailers can tackle these challenges

The good news is there are several ways that automotive retailers can tackle the CX problems weve outlined above and put customer-centricity at the forefront of their automotive business in 2022.

1. Creating connected customer experiences is a must

Consumers want convenience whilst also getting the best quality goods and services, and in todays always-on culture, their expectations are only increasing. To do this, automotive retailers need to merge and connect their online and offline processes, in order to allow customers to switch between channels throughout the entire customer journey.

A survey conducted by Harris Poll found that, whilst 64% of people still aren’t completely comfortable buying entirely online, there’s a strong preference for making certain parts of the buying process virtual, namely searching for a car (80%), taking possession of it (76%), conducting credit checks and financing (74%), and reviewing and purchasing insurance and extended warranty products (73%).

On top of this, research by Deloitte found that only 54% of consumers aged 18 to 35 still want in-person transactions, showing the impact of a digital demographic accustomed to instant gratification and the need for automotive manufacturers to be able to sell their cars entirely online in the future.

Being able to offer customers a simple, seamless and connected experience, regardless of where they are in the purchasing journey, the medium they use, or their preference for online or offline processes, will be crucial over the coming 12 months if businesses want to stay competitive.

2. Manufacturers need to ramp up personalisation efforts

Unfortunately, as automotive manufacturers adjust to move away from traditional retail methods, many are still in the early stages of digital maturity. However, if companies hope to remain competitive, improving their personalisation is going to be non-negotiable in 2022.

One way to ramp up your personalisation efforts is to get to know your customers better using by careful data collection, and then crafting detailed customer profiles from the insights gathered.

This typically involves breaking down customers into different profiles using customer data platforms (CDP), and then using this information to deliver a consistent level of personalisation across different online and offline touchpoints. This could include sending out personalised emails, offers or information about third-party services that could be of interest, such as music subscriptions, parking apps, etc.

3. The customer experience is becoming more fluid

The last 18 months have been challenging for the automotive industry, with a shortage of semiconductor chips potentially disrupting production until 2023, and car sales dropping to the lowest levels since 1992.

For those who have bought a car during this period or who needed support with an existing vehicle, the experience differed greatly from what we are used to, with more contactless and virtual strategies being put in place.

Although customers can once again return to dealerships, the customer experience looks set to be more fluid in 2022. This means that manufactures must find perfect the balance between digital and physical spaces such as online platforms and the dealership.

Not only this, but car retailers and manufacturers must use data to identify and digitise relevant touchpoints along the customers journey if they hope to make experience as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Ultimately, this means that many will have to reimagine the dealership experience to make it better suited to the customer and create a more connected experience. By combining all data sources and eliminating data silos companies can generate strong customer profiles, ideally achieve a 360° view which then will help to deliver the best possible experience – online and offline. With the help of a state-of-the-art CDP, companies can easily thrive in a fluid CX.

4. Smart knowledge bases need to be developed

Finally, we have mentioned that it can be very beneficial for customers to have quick and easy ways to get information about their vehicles, particularly Millennials and Gen Z. As a result, we’ll likely see increase in smart knowledge bases as a place where customers, dealerships, and customer service agents can source the same information all at once.

This will likely present itself in the form of an online database and each audience will have a different view. This helps to create a more seamless and connected experience for all parties, but more than anything, it gives customers a way to find the information they need quickly and easily, sometimes without having to speak to anyone else.

These central hubs for information will be an important part of the customer experience in the automotive industry in 2022 and should be embraced by customers, manufacturers and dealerships alike if they haven’t already.

If you’d like to know more about customer centricity and how you can build a 360° view of your customers in your business, you can check out our comprehensive guide here.

Further reading


Sitecore is a global leader in digital experience management software that combines content management, commerce, and customer insights. The Sitecore Experience Cloud™ empowers marketers to deliver personalized content in real time and at scale across every channel—before, during, and after a sale. More than 5,200 brands—including American Express, Carnival Cruise Lines, Kimberly-Clark, and L’Oréal—have trusted Sitecore to deliver the personalized interactions that delight audiences, build loyalty, and drive revenue. 


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