Top Lessons for Creating a Differentiated Connected Car Experience

September 3, 2015  |  By John Jasper  |       

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Car shoppers today have many more choices of models and brands, even within the same vehicle segment, than they did just 10 to 20 years ago. To attract and retain loyal customers in this competitive market, OEMs must differentiate their products and brand beyond the traditional factors of performance, quality, and price.

This is particularly important when it comes to younger consumers, many of whom prefer ridesharing to car ownership. According to Deloitte’s Gen Y Automotive Consumer Study, consumers born between 1997 and 1994 say the customer experience is three times more important to them than vehicle design when making a buying decision. Ultimately, taking the time to carefully engineer the customer experience will make your connected car stand out from the pack, no matter what your customer demographic.

Here are the top lessons we’ve learned when it comes to creating a differentiated connected-car experience:

Differentiate Your Brand During the Entire Shopping Continuum

It’s not enough just to create a good experience at the point of sale. To keep customers coming back, OEMs and dealers must differentiate their brand throughout the shopping process -- that means before the sale, during, and after (i.e., service and maintenance throughout the ownership lifecycle).

One way to do this is to provide ongoing services to consumers through in-car apps. Think about General Motors, which has generated billions of dollars in revenue through its subscription-based OnStar service since 1996. The system relies on voice and data communications to provide customers with emergency services, remote diagnostics, in-vehicle security, and even navigation. Today, OnStar is synonymous with GM -- it’s a heavily branded service that has created a unique advantage and a huge revenue stream for the American automaker.

Customize Your In-Car UX

It’s imperative that OEMs create a unique branded experience to greet customers each and every time they bring their smartphone into the car, whether they drive a minivan or a convertible. That may seem obvious, but when an OEM uses an integration solution engineered by a specific smartphone manufacturer (Apple Car Play, for instance), they lose out on that differentiation. By their very nature, vendor solutions like these limit branding, customization, and even potential revenue-generating opportunities for OEMs (such as the in-car apps we mentioned previously).

A third-party solution like AbaltaTech’s WEBLINK® gives OEMs much more control over the user experience. With WEBLINK, you can tailor your customer’s IVI experience down to the make and model of car; control the experience with advertising; and keep data proprietary.

Provide Smartphone Integration that Works for Everyone

A common challenge OEMs face when building out a widely-adopted smartphone integration is making sure that it can scale across mobile operating systems and price points. And all too often, OEMs end up with a solution that only works for just iOS or Android, but not both. The problem here is you’re alienating what could be a huge part of your customer base.

Abalta’s WEBLINK enables auto manufacturers to seamlessly reach both audiences. It gives drivers the ability to display the smartphone interface from a variety of mobile operating systems on the vehicle’s head unit. Plus, it’s scalable. WEBLINK operates on the widest range of in-vehicle infotainment platforms of any connected car platform, so OEMs can offer a consistent connected car solution globally across all their models.

Make the Ownership Experience Easy and Consistent

Connected-car technology presents an opportunity for OEMs to radically transform the automotive customer experience. In a report on the connected experience, Deloitte describes one future scenario that would offset the burdens today’s younger generations see as part of car ownership:

“Imagine the day when a vehicle will be able to sense that it needs to be serviced, and can automatically schedule an appointment with the dealer based on the availability on the owner’s calendar. Then, imagine the vehicle driving itself to the dealer for that appointment.”

Deloitte goes on to describe the “automotive customer experience of tomorrow,” in which customers handle all aspects of their connected car services in a one-stop-shop portal. Their account information is shared across dealerships to keep the experience consistent. The connected car notifies them of service issues or required maintenance as well as when and where to take the car. The dealer already knows the car is coming because the connected technology has transmitted that information. Once the customer drops off the car, the dealer has a loaner vehicle of their preference waiting for them.

Now, imagine knowing all this when making a choice between two similar automotive brands. One offers the hassle-free service and maintenance experience, the customized in-car UX, the easy smartphone integration, and the other doesn’t. Which brand would you choose?

Topics: Connected Car - Other

John Jasper

John is the President and COO of Abalta Technologies. Abalta Technologies, Inc. is an emerging leader in the connected car landscape. Abalta has developed an innovative platform to enable car companies, automotive electronic firms and tier 1 suppliers to bridge the gap between the smartphone and the car’s infotainment system.

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