VP - Head of Auto Digital Center, Digital Strategy & Advanced Planning
Digital transformation hasn't just upgraded our process efficiency, consistency, and quality but helped survive uncertainties. Like any other industry, the pandemic severely impacted the automotive industry. Due to lockdowns, our dealers couldn’t connect with customers. We were at crossroads to shift both vehicles' and consumers' experiences from physical to digital. We needed an e-commerce like platform to deliver a fully contact-less customer experience.
Customer first approach
By putting ourselves in the shoes of the customer, we mapped her real-world buying experience and created an industry first, end-to-end online platform called Own-Online. While this was in the works before the pandemic hit, we had to significantly accelerate the development. The team launched it within weeks after the lockdown was announced in 2020.
Designing this gave us tremendous insights into the end user’s requirements and newfound behaviors. Beyond purchasing, we needed to empathize with customers’ purchasing abilities. So, we built services like online vehicle exchange, digital loan applications, and instant approval mechanisms. This platform will soon get launched in a refreshed avatar at our main site – http://auto.mahindra.com
Accelerate Collaboration & integration
Collaborating with a cross functional team was needed to ensure customer queries are immediately addressed and resolved. Also, customers of today look for a single window interface with any brand. Hence, we launched a unified chatbot platform that customers (both existing and potential) can talk to via multiple channels – including WhatsApp!
Technologies like AI and IoT are proving to be game changers for the auto industry. Thanks to these technologies, we can simulate engine testing using AI for an accurate and improved turnaround time. We are using AI to predict failures at our paint shops. This way we’ll abolish any chance of a paint-defect to go undetected on a customer vehicle. We are also building VR-based solutions for service technicians to virtually connect with trainers, open an engine and receive instructions on how to repair it.
What I’ve realized through these experiences is that, by truly placing the customer first, technology can create that distinct and memorable experience that every brand craves in today’s cluttered world. This comes through perseverance and clear vision to march ahead with.
Looking back, I will always hold dear this advice by a senior leader, "Invest in building deep and lasting relationships – with colleagues and customers alike!" Undoubtedly, this advice has worked best in recent challenging times!