Driving Innovation into Today’s Automotive Market: Powering Stronger Customer Experiences

by Nico Schilling, CTO Automotive, Rackspace Technology

Automobile in gradient colors


The journey from purchasing a car to cultivating a lasting relationship with the brand has become paramount in today's automotive landscape. As technology redefines consumer expectations, automotive companies must adapt and innovate to thrive in this evolving ecosystem. The automotive team at Rackspace Technology® is helping automotive companies deploy cloud solutions and use the immense potential of digital customer experience solutions to drive transformation and unlock new avenues for growth and engagement.

Transitioning from purchasing to brand relationship-building

In the past decade, the automotive industry has seen a significant shift in how brands engage with customers beyond just the vehicle sale. Today, having a relationship with a brand is crucial. It’s almost as important as the product itself. According to Deloitte’s 2018 global automotive consumer study, Over 78% of consumers rated the customer experience as a critical factor in their decision to purchase from a particular brand. This highlights the importance of not just selling a car but fostering a lasting relationship with customers.

Automakers are now leveraging leading-edge technologies to enhance their customer relationships. For example, cloud-based data lakes play a pivotal role by integrating customer data from various touchpoints — dealerships, after-sales services, and call centers — into a unified view. This consolidation enables brands to deliver personalized experiences tailored to individual preferences and behaviors. For example, if a customer shows interest in EVs, brands can customize their communications to highlight relevant features or offers for EVs.

Also, by maintaining an integrated customer database, automakers can avoid redundancies and enhance customer convenience. Vehicle buyers expect interactions with automakers to be as streamlined and personalized as the interactions they enjoy with leading digital companies. For example, customers do not want to re-enter personal information, like addresses or phone numbers, at different stages of their journey. They don’t have to with an integrated customer data system, which automatically provides that information when necessary.

Strategies like these examples enhance the customer experience and build stronger brand loyalty with consumers. This is critical in today's highly competitive global market, where the number of high-quality vehicle options continues to increase every year.

Creating value through connectivity and data

The constant connection between vehicles and manufacturers unlocks substantial opportunities for creating new revenue streams and enhancing customer services. However, it's crucial that the services provide real value and are not merely expected as standard features in modern vehicles.

For instance, bus and truck manufacturers are seeing increased interest from logistics companies to use vehicle data to optimize routes and fleet management. Similarly, sports car enthusiasts are keen on accessing detailed performance data to improve their skills on racetracks. McKinsey reported that revenue generated from recurring services and digital enhancements could boost original equipment manufacturer (OEM) revenues by up to 30% over the next decade​.

Beyond logistics and performance data, there is significant consumer interest in digital enhancements that improve convenience, safety and entertainment. For example, the market for connected car services, which includes advanced navigation systems, real-time vehicle diagnostics and automated emergency calling, is projected to grow.

As the data generated by vehicles becomes increasingly valuable, questions around data ownership and utilization will become central. The industry is moving toward a model where the data produced by a vehicle can be monetized in various ways, whether through enhanced service offerings or partnerships with insurance companies and other third-party service providers.

The future of automotive marketplaces will hinge on how data ownership is defined, who has the right to use this data and how it can be monetized. This transformation presents exciting opportunities for manufacturers, technology companies and service providers, including the opportunity to create new business models centered around connected vehicles’ data-rich ecosystem.

Unified customer care and the rise of self-service

Customer care is the cornerstone of our digital strategy. Research on the Customer Effort Score reveals a direct correlation between customer satisfaction and the ease of problem-solving. This underscores the crucial role of unified communication across all customer service channels in enhancing customer experience. Effective integration ensures timely support and problem resolution, which in turn builds trust and loyalty.

Our approach, at Rackspace Technology, is to provide a seamless and cohesive experience across phone, email, chat and social media. By maintaining a consistent customer profile, we enable personalized interactions that directly address each customer's needs and preferences. For example, if a customer’s vehicle reports a brake issue, the system automatically informs the call center, so the agent can begin the conversation with specific assistance rather than a generic greeting. Similarly, customers interested in EVs will receive information relevant to EVs rather than promotions for combustion-engine sports cars.

Moreover, self-service is becoming increasingly pivotal in customer support strategy. According to the  Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey, approximately 81% of consumers try to resolve issues on their own before reaching out to a live representative. Recognizing this trend, OEMs must empower customers with robust self-service options that allow them to independently manage many aspects of vehicle maintenance and support via digital touchpoints.

This strategy not only meets customer expectations for quick and efficient service but also reduces the strain on traditional support channels, enhancing operational efficiency. By leveraging advanced CRM systems, AI and machine learning, we can further refine these interactions to ensure that every touchpoint with the brand is informative, relevant and effective.


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