CIO's Desk: The biggest CX trends in Automobile

While strategizing the digital tech roadmap, we ensure that every Digital solution conceived, developed & deployed benefits one or more of the 5Cs who are nothing but our stakeholders viz Customer, Channel, Company, Collaborator, & Community

CIO's Desk: The biggest CX trends in Automobile - CIO&Leader

The automobile industry is on the cusp of significant disruption within India and globally. People have a preconceived notion that technology adoption in the Commercial Vehicle industry is moderate. But in the last 3 to 4 years, there has been massive technology adoption in the segment riding on digital technologies. Digital is revolutionizing the automobile experience for customers.

Many recent innovations in automobiles are designed to complement the overall customer experience- from buying to driving and until scrapping. Today, we have a large fleet of young customers who are Tech-savvy and many millennials who want to get everything done from the comfort of their continually evolving Smartphones. The purpose of leveraging and adopting digital is to improve customer experience, generate additional revenues and create new revenue streams.

Digital Journey

With customers becoming increasingly Technology savvy with a growing appetite for digital solutions, pressure on organizations to create meaningful and immersive experiences is increasing multi-fold.

We started our digital journey ten years ago when people talked about digital in their boardrooms. Our journey began with developing mobile apps focussed sharply on enriching and enhancing customer experience.

Initially, the focus was on getting more customer insights, engaging them digitally, and importantly empowering our field staff with digital tools in an ever-increasing competitive landscape.

Today, I can confidently say that these digital platforms, the mobility platform, big data and analytics platform, and others, have become the organization's lifeline.

The digital marketplace suite of solutions that we launched way back in 2017 and the recently announced Digital Nxt Marketplace service laid the foundations for brand-agnostic digital platforms meant for Ashok Leyland customers but can be used by other industries and customer segments as well as we advance.

These initiatives reflect our brand promise of "Aap ki Jeet, Hamari Jeet," where we aspire to create a vibrant ecosystem of digital solutions for our Partners, Dealers, and Suppliers.

While strategizing the digital tech roadmap, we ensure that every Digital solution conceived, developed & deployed benefits one or more of the 5Cs who are nothing but our stakeholders viz Customer, Channel, Company, Collaborator, & Community.

Digital transformation impacting customer experience

Earlier, the vehicle buying experience involved physical visits to the dealership to get to the product features. However, two significant disruptions have changed the vehicle buying process and experience.

The first is the mobile-first preference of customers who have started valuing experience over possessions. Then the recent pandemic has forever changed the way industries and their customers buy and operate.

When commercial premises and dealerships were closed during the pandemic, technologies such as augmentative reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) were deployed, accelerating digital transformation.

We launched our online vehicle booking platform for light commercial vehicles (LCVs) during the pandemic, and the initial response has been positive. We are now extending this to our medium and heavy commercial (M&HCV) vehicles.

Adopting a retail approach for digital-savvy customers

E-commerce brands have not only changed the retail industry forever, but they also trained customers' minds expecting a retail service in every other industry, including the automobile industry.

The vast amount of data along with the latest technology has been helping today's customers to do thorough research and comparison by themselves, replacing the need for in-person discussions.

At Ashok Leyland, we have a wide range of customized Digital Solutions that offer exponential value to the entire Commercial Vehicle ecosystem. Solutions like iALERT (our in-house Connected Vehicle Platform), e-Diagnostics (our BLE-based Smartphone Diagnostics app), Leykart (Online Parts Booking Platform), and Service Mandi (Online Platform for Mechanics) stand testimony to our deep understanding of customer requirements and needs.

Our iALERT Platform enables real-time fleet monitoring across various vehicle parameters and brings together advanced Track and Trace (TnT), Vehicle Health Monitoring Diagnostics, Over-the-Air (OTA) capabilities, and Reports & Analytics.

These provide valuable insights into the vehicle's performance, predict service requirements, plan maintenance schedules, and help the vehicle stay on the road longer.

From 'Vehicle Uptime,' we now talk of vehicle 'Up all the time,' thanks to our 'Tech Enabled' digital solutions.

Digital adoption and Seamless customer experience – AL digital marketplace

iALERT is the industry's first telematics solution available across mechanical and electronic engine platforms.

The in-house system can monitor up to 120+ parameters on an advanced vehicle to generate the most comprehensive, real-time data on a vehicle's health and whereabouts.

eDiagnostics app aims at problem identification and offers step-by-step troubleshooting with video assistance. The app then helps owners to identify which part requires replacement.  

The Leykart is our Digital Commerce Platform. It is a 24*7 repository of genuine spare parts. Users can search for any specific spare or select it from a list through the vehicle registration number. These parts ordered directly will be delivered to customers' doorstep.

There is about one lakh+ garage in India. However, it is a highly unorganized sector. The ServiceMandi Platform connects customers with Ashok Leyland Mechanics no matter where your vehicle's location is. It also provides live status updates of the vehicle repair directly on the Mobile, and once done, customers can now login for Digital payment for the service received at a pre-agreed rate.

Each of these platforms is driven by unique customers' needs and meets the expectations of a varied stakeholder base.

Newer technologies to improve CX in the automobile industry

Like every other industry around the globe, the Automobile industry is also in a state of continuous disruptive transition. Emerging technologies like AI, ML, AR, and big data profoundly influence customer experiences with each passing day.

The company's AI-led digital initiatives help customers proactively identify issues that could have led to cases of vehicles breakdowns. It also allows customers to avoid additional costs.

We can use AI-driven prognostics to identify issues likely to lead to a vehicle breakdown and get them fixed even before a complaint is lodged.

AI is also being used in pattern recognition and predictive analysis, and ML algorithms are being applied for cross-selling parts. With the enormous data available, we have created a live, breathing Digital model of vehicles-that is the equivalent of a digital twin.

Digital twin uses data from vehicles that are running. These are continuously evolving models that rapidly reduce the time between design to production and production to service and help in improving product reliability.

Look beyond the horizon

Customers are now experiencing newer vehicle capabilities and changing their behavior with more unique realities and increased convenience.

This scenario has led to the industry aggressively shifting gears and moving towards more Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric vehicles and Mobility solutions.

Infotainment experiences like navigation maps assisted driving, watching movies, and parking with payment from the dashboard are already there in many vehicles.

Dynamic attributes such as 24X7 roadside assistance, driving analytics reports, functional alerts, live vehicle tracking, and many more add to the customer experience.

More safety-related functions are being loaded for making a seamless customer experience. Innovative vehicles detect drivers' sleepiness and galvanic skin response sensors to warn against stress and avoid harmful accidents.

The industry is also manufacturing vehicles with advanced features that lead to less and eventually no input from the drivers, what we call autonomous vehicles.

 At Ashok Leyland, we have a robust and extensive Customer Experience (CX) Strategy that spans six different legs of our commercial vehicle customer's journey.

Starting from negotiating, thorough evaluation to operate-maintain and sell-scrap-rebuy, we have a holistic roadmap of digital solutions that we want to execute over the next 2-5 years to create a 'Differentiated Customer Experience' at the industry level.

There are some very ambitious yet exciting 'Tech-Driven' experiences that we are confident in creating.

Our mantra revolves around tech, digital, data, and AI-enabled solutions. I firmly believe that the success of an organization going forward lies in its ability to mine deep insights from different datasets and make it a reliable decision-making tool for all stakeholders.

The digital transformation within the automobile industry is driving significant changes for Auto OEMs worldwide. It is opening up a substantially level playing field for all automobile players. The future of the automobile industry is challenging yet exciting.

The author is President-IT and Chief Digital Officer, Ashok Leyland

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