In a turbulent automotive market Japanese manufacturing giant Nissan have had to take the hard path to find success writes Laura Anne Danaraj...
The automotive industry has been going through a state of disruption in recent years challenged by consumer-centric approaches, driving transformational changes and adopting new technologies.
With so many options available in the market, automakers need to stand out amidst economic, environmental, and emotional preferences. But how? At Field Service Asia, organized by WBR Singapore, we had the privilege to interview Jamie Morais, Head of Aftersales Dealer Operations, APAC, Nissan to learn more.
Full Cycle Service Management Across OEM, Dealer and Customer
Well, apart from doing what they do best - designing and manufacturing cars, automakers have realized the importance of giving a full spectrum of services to build brand loyalty. In the case of Nissan, the Japanese automaker is working hand-in-hand with an authorized network of dealers from different countries as their partners, seeing them as an integral part of their ecosystem.
“They (dealers) are the ones who take care of the cars for the customer," Morais explained. "Therefore, what we do from our side is to come up with policies and strategies that focus on enhancing customer experience and customer’s journey. We then work with the dealers to ensure that the kind of service delivered to the customer is accomplished.”
As such, when automakers and dealers form a collaborative partnership, customer retention improves, brand loyalty is achieved and customer engagement process is standardized. This in turn influences the overall market share gained.
However, some relationships have often been fraught with friction, as automakers appear to be occupying the passenger seat, with dealers engaging with the customers directly. How then does Nissan manage expectations and delight customers in this situation?
“Well, it’s only a challenge if you don’t put yourself in your customer’s shoes." Morais continued, "If you do put yourself in your customer’s shoes, thinking from a customer’s point of view, it becomes a delight. If you can achieve or exceed you customer’s expectation, you are already building loyalty. Our focus now is customer retention, in order to build what we call a ‘family’ of Nissan owners.”
"To minimize disruption, predictive maintenance can be performed while equipment is operating..."
Since dealers manage customer relationships, they are in the best position to build trust and personalize experience, thus, seen as enabler rather than a hindrance, a partner rather than a competitor. For Nissan, getting the buy-in of the dealers to deploy their strategies is a priority. When both manufacturer and dealer have the same goal, training and development is next to ensure that what the frontliner is saying and acting are according to the designed strategy.
And one of the strategies include embracing technology to satisfy customers, which as we all know influences the customer’s perception of the brand, and decision to buy. What kind of projects involving technology did Nissan have in place for their customers then?
“We are working on this project for ‘last mile, first mile’." Morais responded. "After you buy a car, you would then need servicing. The question is when. So instead of waiting for the customer to call you for servicing, why not call the customer instead. You are predicting when the car is going to need servicing. And, this requires technology. For us (Nissan) to be able to communicate with the car – like an indication when it needs servicing, the car should inform us of its problem first.”
To minimize disruption, predictive maintenance can be performed while equipment is operating. The transition from a reactive to a predictive mindset enables automakers to respond to the warning indication the moment it is received. Going the extra mile to provide high quality aftersales, enables manufacturers to reinforce their ties with their customers through a satisfying experience.
"Automakers should adapt to their customer’s preferred communication channel..."
Nissan is also going digital when it comes to customer interaction. With the prevalence and ease of mobile phones and tablets, Morais believes customers are after non-verbal communication these days. Looking at how customers currently interact with them, service appointment and engagement process are done without opening their mouth, but all in the palm of their hand. And with this, automakers should adapt to their customer’s preferred communication channel to make information readily available through these commonly used platforms.
“When they come in for a service, actually coming in and bringing the car to us, we try to make the process more convenient, making sure that the time that they come in to the time they go out is the shortest possible, with least disruption to their regular routine,” he said.
Convenience is key in fueling high quality aftersales; and should be infused into every single customer experience. Automotive industry is no exception when it comes to dealing with the ramifications of customer’s expectations. These expectations have a profound effect on brand loyalty, and are crucial in firming up purchasing decisions. No longer separated by dealers, automakers have to collaborate with them in bringing the brand closer to their customers.
Finishing, Morais shared the benefits of attending Field Service Asia, how it gives him the chance to not only discover the latest technology in the market at present, especially when it comes to aftersales service, but also engage with like-minded people.
If you want to learn more about digital transformation in your business or on how to engage with your customers, then make sure you attend Field Service & B2B CX Asia .
- Read more about digital transformation in field service @ www.fieldservicenews.com/digital_transformation
- Read more about Customer Satisfaction @ www.fieldservicenews.com/Customer_Satisfaction
- Read more articles from Laura @ www.fieldservicenews.com/blog/author/laura-danaraj
- Find out more about Field Service Asia @ fieldserviceasia.wbresearch.com
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