The events surrounding COVID-19 have drastically altered the automobile market in Europe as consumer spending on vehicles slowed. UK vehicle new registrations in September dropped by 4.4% from last year to 328,041, the lowest volume in new cars since the current license plate system began in 1999, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). "Unless the pandemic is controlled and economy-wide consumer and business confidence rebuilt, the short-term future looks very challenging indeed", said SMMT Chief Executive Hawes in a BBC interview.
The road to recovery will not be simple, but understanding the state of the automobile industry and customer experience preferences is key to boosting loyalty and succeeding during down times.
The industry in changing, whether you like it or not
When TTEC reported on the auto-industry last year, we were looking down the barrel of change. Environmental impact, political uncertainty, tariffs and technological innovation were shaping the industry. No one could have predicted the factors we face now. The sector is now truly facing a storm.
But some things don't change, despite uncertainty. Last year we saw digital adaption on the rise, increased awareness of environmental impact and the need for tailored services. It's essential to reevaluate the factors we believed where changing the industry and how customer service can meet these needs.
Electric vehicles continue to rise
According to the Financial Times, electronic vehicle sales in the UK have more than doubled in August with electronic battery and plug-in hybrids constituting 1 in 10 vehicles sold that month. This is despite an overall decline in vehicle registrations felt across Europe. And in the wake of UK government officials expected to announce future bans on fossil fuel vehicles, environmental concerns and legislation are continuing to pave the way to a greener future.
This will mean a continued focus on new vehicle sales and service with transparency in articulating environmental impact and regulatory compliance. Consumer expectations are beginning to be enforced, it's time to meet them head on.
Within the contact centre, agents will need to understand on how their products fit the preferences of customers by utilising knowledge bases and intelligent automation to better communicate information customers want. This leads us to our next two factors:
Preemptive service is no longer a luxury
The pandemic acted as a catalyst for increased digitisation. From retail to healthcare, most customers must now contact brands remotely to assist their needs. This unforeseen circumstance overcrowded contact centres and caused long queues when help was needed most. In the automotive industry, proactive and preemptive service is how companies will stand out among competitors to address customer needs before they even arise.
Data analytics can help create an enhanced view of the customer journey to help identify milestones and events that 'trigger' a need for service such as purchasing a new vehicle, servicing or checking in on parts that may need replacing. By anticipating the timing of events, automakers can deflect many interactions before they even hit the contact centre. In result, agents are helping customers before a negative situation arises to turn it into a positive and personalised experience.
Empower agents to deliver great experiences
On a global scale, remote work and learning is here to stay for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021. Automakers need to give their agents the right tools to properly serve customers with a hybrid of remote and physical service. Meanwhile, as the need for remote work remains steadfast automakers need to prioritise AI-enabled remote training.
We made this a reality when a leading automaker needed to reimagine its contact centre training to become more flexible and ensure superior service. Using TTEC's RealPlay Bot we leveraged AI and machine learning technology to simulate real-world customer scenarios, giving employees the freedom to practice and perfect problem-solving techniques. These customised scenarios based on real customer interactions, allowed employees to practice at any time and as frequently as needed.
This is incredibly important as the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt across the globe and organisations aim to adapt to the new-normal at various capacities. The tools that enable agents to hit the ground running in any industry need to be obtainable in any environment.
Accelerate towards a better future
The automobile industry one of many facing difficulties in times of uncertainty, but its moments like this that shape organisations into stronger and more adaptable versions of themselves. Consumer preferences haven't shifted from last years, rather they have been accelerated. Organisations who can meet the need for customer values, digitilisation and service will be the true winners of the following years to come.