Customer engagement puts the Digital Consumer in the driver's seat

June 15, 2011 // By Steven P. Silver, Vineet Bhagat, and Bharat Nagarajan, Infosys
This article aims at identifying and proposing customer-centric strategies for reducing "interaction friction" during Digital Consumer interactions. By striving to better orchestrate and socially-enable the automotive customer experience, automotive enterprises will increase Consumer delight and advocacy to realize greater economic returns from marketing and service interactions. While the article was written with the US automotive industry in mind, we believe that there are similar trends in Europe.

Digital Consumer is armed with many brand and product choices. While various industries have adapted their customer engagement strategies to engage the Digital Consumer, the automotive customer journey remains a path of multiple years, players, and disjointed interactions. But, in fact, the vehicle just might be the most important digital consumer domain.

The Digital Consumer is armed with many brand and product choices, infinite pieces of data, social recommendations or words of caution—all of which are delivered via various devices, interfaces, and "experiences", including the vehicle itself. While various industries have adapted their customer engagement strategies to address the reality of engaging the Digital Consumer, the automotive customer journey remains a path of multiple years, players, and disjointed interactions—all creating obstacles to vehicle sales and service loyalty.

Impact of Great Recession and the Digital Consumer on the U.S. auto industry
The post-recessionary U.S. automotive sector has witnessed a loss of nearly 6 million annual sales in the space of three years. This has resulted in unprecedented and unsettling changes in the automotive world.

Historic brands have disappeared or changed ownership. Dealer showrooms by the thousands have shut their doors. New clean energy start-ups like Tesla, Fisker, and Coda Automotive—along with existing players like Nissan, GM, and Toyota—are creating viable new green products.

These tremors in the U.S. automotive industry have been mirrored by the emergence of the Digital Consumer. The unrelenting rise of the Internet is transforming consumers from passive information gatherers to engaged, interactive, and self-directed participants with brands, brand enthusiasts, and detractors. Digital Consumers are tapping into increased, personalized, online "social" conversations and making more informed purchase decisions.

Consumers armed with digital devices, applications and data demand unfettered access to critical, customizable and sharable information (e.g. there are an estimated 142 million Facebook users in the U.S. alone). This means consumers are pushed towards (or away from) automotive transactions by real-time recommendations from social network "friends." This influence

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