Skip to Content

Connected Data: The answer to a declining traditional aftermarket

Ollie Cregg, Mike Jones
Aug 31, 2023

The after-sales business is a vital profit source for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and dealers. But with electrification and improved quality, parts consumption per vehicle will decrease, creating a potential revenue gap. Through this blog we will be investigating the methods and levers OEMs and dealers could use to address this trend, through driving enhanced customer experiences, greater efficiency and new revenue streams via connected data and digitalisation.

Predictive Maintenance – enabling new experiences

The connectivity embedded in vehicles by OEMs enables new capabilities to provide enhanced insights and experiences, with a key trend being predictive & preventative maintenance. Connected vehicles transmit real-time data on vehicle components, allowing OEMs to highlight and predict potential defects, and proactively schedule interventions and personalise maintenance services, improving vehicle reliability, reducing unexpected repairs and downtime, leading to greater customer satisfaction.

A key challenge for OEMs within this area is interpreting data from the vehicle into actionable insight to prevent vehicle downtime and driving this information through the value chain and across dealer partners, customers, and 3rd parties to enable these new experiences effectively. Currently, the connectivity between OEMs and dealers is limited, with a fragmented and disconnected landscape of systems driving the aftersales business. This hurts efficiencies and customer experience. OEMs will need to consider how they transform and evolve from traditional legacy systems to provide the correct information and digital capability to the dealer and customer. They will need to focus on providing clear and real-time ‘next best actions’, and the technical insight to drive workshop efficiency within an inter-connected infrastructure – transparency and alignment across the ownership journey is a key factor to drive these enhanced customer experiences.

Technology is key to supporting, accelerating, and scaling this transformation. AI, machine learning and digital twins will play an important role in allowing the iterations of effective interventions, visualising their impact, and supporting the onset of new personalised service offerings. Connecting this eco-system through collaborative digital strategies will allow a less siloed and more seamless experience, whilst also providing the transparency required to enhance processes and access to information. If executed correctly, significant benefits would be realised, such as improved customer retention and decreased warranty costs through early defect identification and repair.

Augmented and Virtual Reality – supporting the repair process

Whilst Augmented Reality(AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) impacts may not have yet reached their expected heights, some key use cases are apparent to support the repair process. AR offers one way to enhance the repair process by utilising the integration of fault codes and technical documents to deliver visual and real-time diagnostic and repair procedures. Artificial Intelligence (AI) & machine learning can further enhance this by supporting the identification of failed components and the repair steps required. All steps are completed by a technician who doesn’t even have to leave their bay. In addition, whilst this can be viewed as supplementary ‘on-the-job’ training, there are increasing examples across industries such as healthcare and telco where AR and VR are being used within training programmes. By applying this to Technician training, it will provide a more contextual learning environment, reducing technical training overheads and allowing for a more diverse curriculum. We can theorise that future technicians will be using AR technology to streamline the entire repair process, enabling an immersive experience whilst increasing fix right first time and reducing repair times.

OTA Updates – effective execution

As vehicles become more defined by software, the ability to repair vehicles remotely through over-the-air (OTA) updates can lead to an improved customer experience, enabled through more convenient support for the customer without visiting a workshop. However, a key factor to consider is how these OTA updates are executed and managed to drive the best experience. Clear communication to the customer across different channels around these updates and the impact it will have on the downtime of the vehicle is key. For example, the OEM could use vehicle usage data to suggest the optimal and least disruptive time to carry out this update. In addition, tracking and recording these updates are key for alignment across key actors in the repair and maintenance space – e.g. ensuring any updates are logged and easily visible for workshops to access is key to understanding repair history and providing a seamless, joined-up experience. OEMs will need to invest in the correct skillsets to transform the way they deliver these experiences, shifting from an engineering to a software and CX focus. Alongside the required skills, is an evolution of the traditional methods of working. A waterfall-designed approach can impact time-to-market and reduces agility from identification to deployment. Therefore, both the skills required, and the approach needed must be considered holistically to drive a timely and seamless experience.

Customer Support – collaboration across the value chain

Using new technology to drive customer support is also a key trend to be further investigated by the automotive industry. Connected data currently provides technical information associated with vehicle faults, mainly focused on diagnosing the issue. However, by providing a ‘customer’ layer to this data, it could be used to advise customers, contact centre agents and service teams on the next best action as a fault appears on the vehicle e.g. to visit a workshop immediately or advise that it is checked during their next visit. Utilising AI and machine learning to optimise and automate this messaging is critical to scaling and enhancing the customer experience – whether this be through pro-active communication in the vehicle, OEM application or contact centre.

This same technology can be provided to roadside or insurance partners to assist in next best action and resolution. Decisive and effective customer support by the OEM and its partners will help turn what could be a brand detractor into a brand supporter through setting customer expectations early. This will also help reduce unnecessary contact with the dealer and streamline the entire repair experience.

Summary

Using technology and data can lead to new revenue streams, better customer experience, and efficiency, but it’s not easy. At present the aftermarket value chain is predominantly siloed, the connection between Dealer, OEM and customer is disparate and the platforms required to support the process are defined by legacy systems with limited integration. The key to enabling these new solutions is through four key steps:

  • Create a clear digital strategy underpinned by strong data governance.
  • Establish a connected eco-system between partners, OEM and dealer.
  • Drive a customer experience strategy with an organisational structure to deliver transformational change.
  • Utilise systems thinking to understand the holistic evolving eco-system and relationships within, in order to enable effective actions.

With the inclusion of the four principles above it will give an OEM the basis required to adopt connectivity and enhance value across an evolving and complex value chain, in turn enabling new experiences and services to drive loyalty within the ownership phase. Capgemini Invent can support your transformation.

Ollie Cregg

Ollie has experience delivering connected services strategy and implementation globally across various sectors including: bus, passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, construction, and agriculture.

Mike Jones

Managing Consultant, Automotive
Mike supports global organisations design and implement their connected data and aftermarket strategy, with experience in large-scale digital transformation projects.