Driving sales in digital lane; Challenges and opportunities in connected vehicle revolution, ET Auto

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<p>The discussion also underscored the critical role of customer education in ensuring the continued success of connected vehicle technologies. </p>
The discussion also underscored the critical role of customer education in ensuring the continued success of connected vehicle technologies.

New Delhi: The 4th edition of ETAuto Connected Vehicle Summit ’24 convened industry leaders to delve into customer trends, challenges, and evolving strategies essential for maximizing the potential of connected vehicles in the dynamic automotive landscape.

Sanjay Gopalakrishnan, SVP – Electric Passenger Vehicle Business at BYD, highlighted the challenges customers face in fully utilizing connected vehicle features. He specifically pointed out connectivity issues across India and stressed the need for improved training for trade consultants.

“The challenge is the connectivity problem across India. There are three or four telecom companies… If you go to a small, minor city or a small street in a developed country, the hotspot works, the WiFi works. But in India, that’s not the case,” Gopalakrishnan said.

Kaushik Madhavan, VP and Head of Consulting, Market & Markets, emphasized the importance of customer awareness and education regarding connected vehicle features. He acknowledged a disconnect between the cost of features and the perceived value, leading to challenges in subscription renewals.

“If people do not see value in it; they will not renew the subscription. Many OEMs face substantial drop in annual renewals. because the customers do not see value,” he said.

Amit Kaushik, MD India, Urban Science, explored evolving customer behavior, shifting from cost-consciousness to a focus on value propositions. He emphasized the need for comprehensive training for both the dealership personnel and consumers to bridge the existing gap in understanding connected vehicle technologies.

“The customer has evolved from a cost-conscious behavior to, I would say, value proposition behavior. I’m value-conscious. I’m ready to spend a little bit more for these features to fulfil my aspirations,” Kaushik said.

Arun Subramanian, CBO and co-founder, Sharpsell, shed light on the challenges in the showroom environment, where tangible features often overshadow the intangible benefits of connected vehicles. He stressed the importance of effective communication and education to bridge the awareness gap.

“Today it’s like you get something better physically, so you buy it. And from what we’ve seen, most of them don’t really understand what benefits you’re pitching to the customer,” he said.

The pervasive issue of connectivity across India impacting the seamless utilization of connected vehicle features was highlighted, emphasizing the need for infrastructure improvement and collaboration with telecom companies to enhance connectivity.

The discussion also underscored the critical role of customer education in ensuring the continued success of connected vehicle technologies. The lack of awareness about features and their benefits contributes to low subscription renewals.

The evolving nature of showrooms and the increasing digitalization of the buying process were discussed. While digital screens play a role, the physical experience remains paramount, requiring a delicate balance in showcasing features effectively. The challenge of training sales consultants to effectively communicate the benefits of connected features was a recurring theme. The diverse educational backgrounds and experiences of sales consultants pose a unique challenge that OEMs and dealerships need to address.

The potential of data analytics to enhance customer experience was recognized, but the current connectivity issues hinder effective data utilization by OEMs.

Citing Citroen’s ATAWADAC concept as a successful example, Kaushik Madhavan highlighted the importance of a phygital (physical + digital) approach for the Indian market, emphasizing the need for a seamless customer profile across all stages of the ownership lifecycle.

Training

Sanjay Gopalakrishnan shared insights into BYD’s approach to training, focusing on educating both fleet and retail consumers about driving electric vehicles. He emphasized the necessity of training programs for dealership staff to educate consumers on driving electric vehicles and understanding connected vehicle features.

Arun Subramanian highlighted the need for a deeper understanding of the customer’s lifestyle, suggesting that sales professionals should engage with customers on a personal level to create relevant conversations. He stressed the importance of understanding the customer’s lifestyle to create relevant conversations during the sales process.

Data generation and privacy

Amit Kaushik and Sanjay Gopalakrishnan underscored the critical role of data generation and the importance of addressing privacy concerns in the connected vehicle landscape.

The panellists unanimously agreed that education, both for customers and sales consultants and the effective use of data will be crucial in navigating the challenges and leveraging the opportunities presented by connected vehicle technology in India.

  • Published On Feb 18, 2024 at 12:59 PM IST

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