Companies across segments are at an inflection point since consumers have changed, and shift in technology has altered core product offering
The automotive industry in India is currently enduring a severe sales slowdown and this is being attributed to a variety of economic factors. However, one area that is always gaining prominence is the methods adopted to address customers and dealers in the entire ownership experience and post-sales life of the vehicle. Increased digitisation have helped OEMs connect with their customers better as well as offer improved and timely services.
San Francisco, California-based Salesforce claims to be the world’s top customer relationship management (CRM) software company as well as the top cloud computing company. To understand more about the company’s innovations and offerings, Auto Tech Review spoke with Deepak Pargaonkar, Vice-President, Solution Engineering, Salesforce India.
The fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) has changed the entire landscape today. People and organisations are technically equipped, with every decision or behaviour being based on technology, including basic activities such as purchases as well as research about products and services that people wish to buy. All companies, including those in the automotive segment are at an inflection point because consumers have changed, and the technology shift has altered the core product offering. The manner in which the digital economy is shaping up is also driving changes with regards to the sharing economy, digital research of consumers as well as vehicle buying trends.
Salesforce brings a solution to the table that relates to every aspect of managing a customer’s lifecycle, which includes signs of a consumer’s anonymous behaviour in terms of options and preferences at appropriate stages of their life. This is subsequently followed by providing consumers with appropriate inputs of specific content and converting such consumer behaviour into sales leads. In the context of the Indian automotive industry, OEMs can use Salesforce to manage consumer journey, convert known prospects, and subsequently offer the best experience through engagement with dealers.
Once a consumer has been won over, the company’s services can be employed to provide that consumer with appropriate service and grow the consumer’s brand loyalty, Pargaonkar noted. A consumer needs to be retargeted after a period of time using the entire spectrum of solutions that Salesforce provides operationally, analytically and also based on capabilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The company also provides industry-specific functionalities, and with all these capabilities offers one of the largest range of solutions for the automotive industry by adding value for customers to manage their dealers and end-customers alike.
In terms of connected vehicle support, Salesforce has the ability as a platform to make consumers and connected vehicles talk to each other for very specific purposes, observed Pargaonkar. The company sees itself as a customer success platform, which provides everything that an organisation needs to connect its entire ecosystem in a whole new way – it carries out standard CRM functions of sales and service as well as additional capabilities such as digital marketing solutions, IOT, comprehensive analytics, AI and integration of systems.
ADDRESSING AUTOMOTIVE TRENDS
Salesforce works with various automotive customers and their different types of requirements. A common requirement is for dealer management and consumer management. For this purpose, the company provides a solution, wherein it creates data for its customers (OEM in this case) to analyse such information for various consolidation requirements. There may be multiple databases of customers existing in various systems, leading to duplicity and confusion. Therefore, customers of Salesforce are asking to provide a platform with a single end-customer view, along with the ability to run analytics on top of it. The analytics will enable them to offer their customers specific offers and services as required, Pargaonkar said.
An emerging trend is of increased digital research by consumers due to availability of multiple options for vehicle models in the country, noted Pargaonkar. Consumers want to carry out comparisons while researching for similar products, using a number of digital platforms. This journey of the consumer in searching for a preferred vehicle is digital, but very complex. Salesforce is being asked to provide solutions, where certain tools can be provided to consumers to sift through appropriate content, while including the possibility to track them. There should be a method to monitor consumer behaviour, and lead them into a particular OEM’s view.
Pargaonkar also said organisations are demanding to know more about consumer behaviour from the perspective of a shared mobility economy. Ride sharing and vehicle sharing are finding increasing adoption; so it is important to understand consumers, he added. This can also bring together shared mobility consumers and connected vehicles to the same platform and address the shared economy better. Pargaonkar observed that customers of Salesforce in India are transforming themselves, as they want to be more global in nature by offering services and products to international markets as well.
Innovation is a core value for Salesforce, with its cloud-based solutions offered to all types of customers, local or global. The company also carries out three releases of its solutions every year, which delivers new functionalities thrice a year. In terms of developing the platform itself, Pargaonkar said this process involves a large amount of interaction with customers to identify specific development areas. Additionally, Salesforce has a centre of excellence in Hyderabad, and also carries out a large amount of functions in the country. The company will continue to focus more on its core values of customer trust, innovation and equality. Salesforce is going to emerge as a critical partner for the digital transformation of its customers, as they begin innovating and plan for their digital transformation, concluded Pargaonkar.
TEXT: Naveen Arul