Personalized offers and UX in the
automotive industry for increased
customer retention

Digitalization has changed the world in ways we never thought possible. Currently, it is hard to imagine our lives without digital services that help us carry out a lot of daily tasks, from working to ordering food, shopping, and finding a destination. However, behind these services, vast amounts of data are collected, processed, and put to good use.

Technology is valuable, and it is becoming more powerful with every passing day. The impact of transformations brought about by technology is touching almost every industry. Сompanies that underestimate the importance of digital customer experience are facing the consequences. The automotive industry is a perfect example of this.

Though our lives are centered around screens, our vehicles still work nearly the same as they did two decades ago. Although OEMs now realise the value of their digital interfaces and are striving to improve them, they still lack the beauty and ease of use of consumer electronics experiences. Nevertheless, a few new players are shaking up the traditional automotive industry.

In the past, car manufacturers greatly focused on their engineering capabilities — superior driving performance and vehicle reliability — to stand out from their competitors. While these aspects still matter in the present market, they are table stakes. The new market favors tech-enabled, data-rich, electric vehicle (EV) companies that focus on enhancing customer experience.

In this article, we take a look at why car manufacturers should provide personalized offerings and improve automotive UX to increase customer retention and how to achieve this.

The biggest trends in the automotive industry

When almost every industry embraced digitalization, the car manufacturing industry hesitated. Due to the lack of change in combustion engines, other ways to generate revenue had to be found. A few established manufacturers decided to leverage marketing campaigns and endless customization options that could be integrated into a vehicle, resulting in the creation of a new business model where consumers paid extra for the technology.

While that worked quite well initially, established brands have struggled to create demand for the last five years. What’s more, with their stock prices falling, brands are being forced to embrace innovations they have been ignoring for too long.

The key innovation trends that have emerged during this time include:

  • Electrification of fleet and their vehicles to meet stringent emission targets
  • Autonomous driving
  • Shared mobility
  • Connected cars
  • Digital experiences

However, there are still aspects of technology that vehicle manufacturers fail to adopt, and once they do could help them increase customer retention considerably.

Personalized offerings are the real game changers

Personalization and customization — are two terms that are often used interchangeably when they mean two different things. Personalization is when developers set up the system to deliver content, experience, or functionality that matches users’ preferences. For example, while a user is traveling, he/she will see promotions and special offers for locations they had visited before or recently searched for.

On the other hand, customization is done by the user. It is when users have the option to make changes to the experience so that it aligns with their specific needs. For example, customization might involve choosing topics of interest, changing colors, moving items around an interface, etc.

In this section, we will talk solely about personalization.

The primary goal of personalization is to deliver experiences that match specific user interests with zero effort from the targeted users. For instance, CloudMade’s system is capable of profiling the user and adjusting the interface according to the driver profile. This includes delivering personalized media, emphasizing particular information, restricting specific tools, granting access, simplifying transactions, etc.

Additionally, our predictive navigation technology shows drivers the most relevant and crucial navigational information, such as traffic levels, road works, speed cameras, etc., without the user input of a destination. The system predicts the routes drivers can take while providing useful information all throughout the journey.

The upside of personalized offerings is a better vehicle UX, which is what we will discuss next.

Put vehicle UX in the driver’s seat

Automotive UX will become the differentiating factor for vehicles in the future. User Experience has its origin in the software industry, so at its core, UX is about designing solutions that satisfy customer expectations through technology. UX offers a user-centered approach for automakers to test new concepts and solutions across various offerings.

Essentially, you will start by conducting UX research that will help you identify the goals and needs of your users and commonalities across target audiences. For instance, where drivers prefer to charge their vehicles and what they wish to do while waiting for their vehicles to get fully charged. Then you will create valuable products leveraging the insights you gain into user behavior.

Currently, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) is a crucial part of many people’s journeys as well as other features, whether maps, media, or connectivity. Hence, it demands a design that aligns with the drivers’ needs. Additionally, with increased digitalization integrated into vehicles, manufacturers must focus on leveraging UX to ensure designs that allow for maximum safety and comfort on the road — think accurate maps, real-time traffic information, and easy-to-use navigation software.

Cruise Control (ACC) navigation system onboarding CloudMade’s Adaptive is a perfect example of Vehicle UX. Drivers can be onboarded to the ACC system through a safe and intuitive interface. Once this is done, the system learns the driver’s familiarity with in-car features and suggests the optimal onboarding strategy.

Furthermore, the drivers are offered a route that works the best for extended use of autonomy features like Drive Pilot, ACC, etc. The technology can also adapt the vehicle’s speed based on road curvature and elevation to match more natural driving behavior and achieve braking and acceleration smoothness.

The importance of customer retention

Delivering the best products isn’t enough to gain customer loyalty in the automotive industry. Though it starts with the products, the process is much broader.

For instance, think about your favorite place to have lunch. Do you go there because they have the best cuisine? Of course, yes. But you also go there because you like the environment, and are treated well. This is because the person on the other side of the counter knows your likes and needs.

Now you realize why user experience and personalization are essential to building customer loyalty.

Similarly, while the quality of the vehicle and its costs are important, the quality of customer service — how personalized your offerings are and how well it aligns with your customer needs — will ultimately lead to improved brand loyalty.

Final thoughts

Today, creating the perfect in-car user experience might seem like a challenge. However, by applying critical usability principles to their user experience design, customer manufacturers will easily be able to create a safe, usable, and enjoyable environment for drivers. Furthermore, trends will keep popping up and shaping the automotive industry. Hence, embracing them at the earliest will ensure you lead the race.

Interested in learning more about the benefits which CloudMade can bring to your business?

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