Technology & Roadmap

How smart communication can help the automobile industry to serve the next billion

  • July 31, 2019
  • 4 mins read

India’s auto industry is one of the largest in the world and constitutes 7% of the country’s total GDP. In the last few years, many sub-industries like the vehicle rentals, used vehicle selling platform, and automobile servicing have also seen tremendous growth.

Despite the astounding growth, it is disheartening to note that the customer communication strategies employed by the automobile companies are still traditional. Take, for example, a car servicing workshop: they communicate with the customers only during pick-ups or drop-offs through SMS and ad-hoc phone calls. There is no organized platform to track these calls or a proper communication strategy to engage with the customers. 

In this article, we’ll focus on the Indian automobile servicing industry and touch upon the challenges plaguing the growth and communication solutions that help overcome these challenges.

Why is the automobile servicing industry struggling?

Over the past few years, a lot of car servicing companies have mushroomed to meet the increasing demand of the car population in the country. According to a survey, only one-third of the car owners go back to the authorized dealer workshops post warranty; the rest opt for local multi-brand garages. The main reasons being flexibility, cost, and time. Same goes for two-wheeler owners too. 

When it comes to customer communication, these are the areas auto servicing companies and multi-brand workshops are struggling with.

Customer engagement: how  to stay at the top of their minds?

There’s a great need for auto companies to define customer engagement. Most servicing companies lack an effective communication system for customer interaction. Even if a few of them have a system in place, it’s either outdated or is not in sync with expectations of the younger generation. Owing to the fact that millennials will represent more than 45 percent of the potential car-buying cohort in 2025, there’s a great need for the companies to reimagine their customer engagement.

Revenue loss: how to deal with lead leakage?

Automobile servicing companies get a lot of call queries through websites and local listings online. In many cases, calls are missed because it was non-working hours or a holiday. There’s no way these can be tracked back. This results in a loss of leads and subsequently, revenue.

Customer support: how  to aid their decision making?

Today, customer support directly affects the customer’s purchase decisions. Hence, it’s not only essential to provide support to customers but make it easily accessible too. For service dealerships having multiple support centers, it becomes quite a challenge for customers to find the right number to contact. Even after finding the correct contact number, a lot of times the number is defunct. 

Customer experience: how to increase customer advocacy?

Good customer experience is crucial for the growth of any business. For auto servicing companies, it is not only about doing the tasks at hand but to find means to improve the customer experience. This includes the ease with which customers can book a service, reschedule it, communicate their special requests & share their feedback. In the end, it’s all about bridging the gap between a customer and the brand. 

4 ways you can see immediate results   

Recent reports say that vehicle sales have declined by 10% in April. The declining sales have affected the servicing industry too. Hence it’s important for companies to try other channels for customer retention by improving communication. Here are some recommended solutions – 

Make it easy for agents to reach customers

Integrate your customer CRM (even if it is a spreadsheet)  to a cloud communication platform like Exotel automate basic tasks. 

While most auto servicing companies use SMS for customer communication, it is mostly to remind them of an upcoming service or communication regarding the service. Since this SMS communication is sent manually, periodic SMS engagement takes a back-seat as it is time-consuming. Instead, use automated calls and SMS in parallel to remind customers about upcoming service events, etc. so that your agents can save their time for other productive activities. 

You can create fun templates like “Happy car wash day” or “Check your engine oil day” to create awareness. This will also help you be the first brand that pops up in customers minds when they hear “auto servicing”.

Make it easier for customers to reach you 

Automobile companies operate on the dealership model and assign different phone numbers for different dealers. While it is convenient for the companies to implement such a system, it’s a hard task for the customer to find the right number to reach the dealer. 

Instead, get one toll-free number for your brand, and route calls to the right dealer/ department with the help of IVR. Callers can enter their pin code on IVR to be routed to the dealer in their locality.

Using a single number for your brand can help in the following ways: 

  • Improves brand recall 
  • Reduces operational costs 
  • Improves customer experience 

Track the calls that come in (even on Sundays!) 

Call tracking is a vital feature for servicing companies, especially if they’re focusing on boosting sales but keep losing the leads. This happens when the calling platform is not designed to track calls. No, the basic caller ID that comes with your landline won’t do. Neither does the mobile phone. We receive so many calls in a day that it is practically not possible to separate business and personal calls. 

This is why a cloud calling platform like Exotel is vital for your auto servicing business.

Seek (automated) feedback 

Feedback at every step of the way is crucial for customer experience. Automated feedback doesn’t always have to be a survey form. One-time feedback calls and surveys are not the ideal or sustainable way of soliciting customer feedback. Instead, you can use interesting feedback requesting mechanisms:

1. Automated IVR Calls 

Auto servicing companies can leverage automated feedback calls which can be set to trigger after an event (for example: when a service is completed). Customers can rate their experience using the DTMF input on their phone. Statistically, automated calls is proven to get more responses when compared to other traditional methods.

Example of a call flow for feedback:


2. Interactive SMS 

SMS has been a popular and favorite feedback medium for over a decade. However, they do not elicit the same interest as automated calls, because of their “bulk” nature. Personalization and interactive links in the SMS will fetch more responses. 

According to Segment, 44% of consumers surveyed said that they will likely become repeat buyers after a personalized experience with a particular company. 

Send them a birthday wish, car maintenance tips and weather alerts based on their location, etc.

Increase customer loyalty with smart communication techniques  

It is evident that there’s a pressing need for a smarter customer communication system for the auto industry. The traditional setup used by the servicing companies is not powerful enough to meet the increasing demand.

Hence it’s important for the companies to move to a communication system which helps in streamlining and organizing their workflow. This is crucial for their growth and increasing customer loyalty.  

Manisha Mishra

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