VRM! Cars provide new data for relationships

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on September 30, 2005

VRM! Cars provide new data for relationships

When it comes to car dealerships and the way they interact with their customers, the more data that's available and the more contact points there are, the better. Now car dealers in the US are looking to the vehicles themselves as a CRM data-gathering tool.

Sales and service managers from a cross-section of US car dealerships see enhanced value in using real-time, telematics-generated data from the vehicle for generating new service revenues and augmenting their current customer relationship management (CRM) processes, according to research conducted by automotive telematics provider ATX Group. The research was conducted among 30 dealerships located in 10 states, representing both luxury and mass-market brands.

According to ATX, most respondents said that data generated from telematics-equipped vehicles was unique, and would enable them to be more proactive in servicing their customers' needs. Respondents also said that telematics seems likely to generate more valuable and credible customer leads for vehicle service because the diagnostic information is coming directly from the vehicle itself, not customers' observations. This in itself is an attribute the dealers believe will win trust among their customers.

Customer recordings It may sound far-fetched but the fact that telematics-generated vehicle data can be supplemented with actual audio clips of user comments, or even survey responses from customers in their vehicles, could increase the value of telematics-based systems for both sales and service functions.

Among other key attributes cited by respondents of such real-time vehicle data systems were the general ease of use and accessibility as web-based services, the timeliness and depth of information that could be generated, and the fact that the data can be both customer and vehicle specific.

Deeper insight Ron West, executive vice president of sales and marketing for ATX, said: "Current practices seem to provide only bits and pieces of information that dealerships need, whereas telematics is able to blend both vehicle and customer data into a more organised, real-time, and in-depth insight. Both sales and service managers view telematics as bringing a higher level of real-time interactivity with their customers as well as with the vehicles they've sold them."

Most of the dealerships also believe that telematics can enhance the information they currently receive, mainly because its more timely and can be obtained quickly and efficiently.

Combined data The system that was demonstrated to the dealership managers (for the purpose of the survey) was a component of ATX's vRM (vehicle relationship management) system. While the CRM that we all know about involves the management of data resulting from every interface with a customer, vRM adds to that model through its ongoing interface with the vehicle, even recording real-time vehicle data and location.

The company's own vRM system makes use of telematics and interactive voice response (IVR) technologies in the vehicle itself, as well as data processing and information in ATX's Telematics Response Centres (with which the vehicle communicates).

Real-time control But beyond the use of vehicle diagnostics data, other interesting (and potentially controversial) aspects of these systems include the ability to extract mileage data from a vehicle in real-time, and even to remotely activate or deactivate certain vehicle functions from a wireless device.

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