Car Companies Don’t Get CRM and it is Costing Them Customers.

Six months before the expiration of my current auto lease, I received the predictable offer to renew my lease early and upgrade to the latest model vehicle. The offer was beautifully crafted and personalized to the specific vehicle that I leased 2 1/2 years ago.

I was momentarily impressed with the highly-tailored message with a specific offer that was designed just for me. My admiration for the beautiful application of personalized marketing quickly waned when I thought back over the first two and half years of my experience with this car company.

Like many car companies, this one focused all its efforts creating a personalized experience on their one goal of converting me for another three years or more with their brand. What they missed was the last 30 months of opportunities to deliver valuable personalized information to me – growing the relationship and earning the right to ask me to extend that relationship for another three years.

The irony is that they showed me with this offer that they have all the tools in place to deliver valuable personalized information. My car, like many contemporary vehicles, is connected to the web and has a dizzying array of sensors in the vehicle that are capable of providing information back to the manufacturer. But they never take advantage of that information to deliver a better experience to me. For example, when it is time to service the vehicle, the dashboard beeps at me when I am starting the car and tells me that it is time to schedule service. Unfortunately, this is about the worst time to tell me that I need to schedule a service appointment. I’m starting my car and getting ready to go somewhere and it isn’t convenient for me to schedule a service appointment. I would prefer to get an email reminding me that it was time to service along with a list of available service appointments that I could simply click on to schedule while I was in front of my calendar.

It would also be incredibly helpful for me to get a monthly report on my driving. How is the car performing based on the last month of driving? What kind of fuel economy am I getting? How does this compare to other drivers in my family (a great way to track your teenaged drivers)? What are the upcoming service intervals that I should know about? This would be a great way to deliver any information about the vehicle – recalls, software updates, etc.

If they developed these services, they could glean important information about my household.  How many drivers are there?  If you create a profile for each driver with useful information, they could combine explicit personalization with implicit information? What are their driving styles?  They could probably predict which model in their lineup would be most appropriate to target to this household based on the driving styles.

The point is that my car company has the potential to deliver valuable information to me via the digital channel, expanding my relationship beyond the time that I sit in the car. In doing so, they would have had the opportunity to learn more about me and my family. If they did that for the first 30 months of our relationship, perhaps they would’ve earned the right to ask me to extend that relationship further.  In this case, they didn’t.