Time for OEMs to execute on their customer experience ambitions

Munich, March 2022

Time for OEMs to execute on their customer experience ambitions

Munich, March 2022

M

any CX improvements are planned and prototyped, but too often never make it to delivery. Berylls Mad Media’s four cornerstones enable carmakers to transform their customer experience.  

Customer experience is now a key part of automotive business outperformance

As customer expectations for personalization and seamless cross-channel experiences continue to rise, there remains huge potential for optimizing customer interaction in the automotive industry.

For most companies, detailed customer insights are already to hand. Yet the mindset, capabilities, and infrastructure to use the data effectively for real-time decision-making are lacking. Corporate IT landscapes remain fragmented between business units and regions, inhibiting the optimization of customer journeys. Equally fragmented budget planning slows down innovation and incentivizes silo-thinking. Inconsistency between online and real-world touchpoints confuses customers and complicates customer journey development. 

Yet it is possible to meet these challenges with a structured approach through all business units. We have identified four cornerstones that will enable OEMs to transform into organizations capable of providing a best-in-class customer experience (CX):

Journey execution framework

End-to-end data strategy

Centralized CX portfolio

Test and learn approach

#1 Journey execution framework

#2 End-to-end data strategy

#3 Centralized CX portfolio

#4 Test and learn approach

Authors
Jonas Wagner

Partner

Maximilian Möller

Principal 

Christian Herr

Senior Associate

Henri Laux

Consultant

In our work with clients, we ensure that all organizational layers are enabled to work on common goals that establish industry-leading personalized customer experiences. This approach is underpinned by a harmonized technology infrastructure, an iterative approach to planning and KPI-driven touchpoint optimization. 

Companies need to act today – because customer experience is the differentiator of tomorrow.

Customer experience is dead – long live customer experience

The methods and tools of CX are everywhere. Requests for proposals, design sprints and strategic war rooms are full of colored post-its, CX prototypes and designs, and demonstrations of journeys mapped. But the truth is that most CX initiatives don’t deliver. Most prototypes never make it to delivery, organizational priorities overrule customer needs, and journey maps end up doing little more than decorating the walls. The conclusion: companies need to address CX execution

Issues to be tackled include: 

CX Hyperactivity

Competing challenges such as rising customer expectations and intensifying competition result in fragmented and disconnected CX initiatives, wasting valuable resources and often undermining customer experience.

Fear of CX Transformation

Focus on CX collides with commitment to follow-through. When change begins to hurt – when teams genuinely transform the way they work – organizations often falter and return to the familiar path of how things have always been done.

Lack of CX Maturity

Deliverables in the form of prototypes are no longer enough: CX initiatives will be scrutinized more critically and CX managers will be asked to demonstrate a measurable contribution to both top-line and bottom-line growth.

The automotive industry is particularly vulnerable to CX failure. Disconnected organizational structures, outdated planning and budgeting processes, fragmented system and data infrastructures, and the lack of direct customer touchpoints constitute a highly explosive mixture. 

Customer touchpoints can be digital, in the form of emails, app push notifications and website landing pages, or offline interactions, such as test drives. Often, OEMs are held back from engaging directly with customers through some of these touchpoints because dealers still control many of the interactions and thus the data, especially during the sales process.  

Companies that do not optimize their CX development processes will struggle to achieve rapid innovation and digital experience execution, will experience disproportionally high development costs and fail to deliver connected experiences, and are unlikely to achieve personalization due to a fragmented supporting data and IT architecture. 

These are the seeds of failure in any CX initiative. The existing toolbox used by customer experience teams does not contain solutions to the real problems out there. It must be scrutinized and refined. How? At Berylls Mad Media, we prioritize horizontal harmonization and vertical integration:

BMM CX Artikel_Grafik_Harmonization_SVG
Horizontal harmonization

At a strategic level, companies must harmonize CX thinking to connect purpose with execution. They must connect customer journeys with employees and with the organization. Customer journey mapping needs to become the central source of truth for CX projects. 

Three elements must drive the CX portfolio backlog: business and brand strategy, qualitative and quantitative insights, and technology-driven innovations. When organized this way, the CX portfolio owns a harmonized, cross-functional backlog that serves as a basis for roadmaps and agile implementation. This breaks up functional silos and helps to steer departments towards the same goals.

 

Vertical integration

At a structural level, CX execution demands deep vertical integration. Front-end designs and click-dummies are only the first step. To evolve them into revenue-generating product features, all elements of an organization need to be involved: processes, organizational design and governance, enabling technologies and architecture blueprints, and an end-to-end data strategy, as well as external stakeholders. For this to work sustainably, it takes guiding principles, methods and frameworks that enable organizations to connect customer experiences directly with the corresponding value-creating delivery processes. 

For OEMs, these two themes represent a fundamental transformation. Yet once CX becomes horizontally harmonized and vertically integrated, other challenges will be tackled more easily because integration enables OEMs to react more flexibly to customer needs, shorten time-to-market, outperform established competition, and go head-to-head with new competitors in areas including software and direct sales.

CHALLENGES

Data and KPIs – currently the weakest links 

Gut-feeling decisions dominate customer journey orchestration – but does management really know better about the best customer experience than the customer base itself? 

To deliver personalized customer experiences, OEMs need to know their customers and their journeys in the first place. Data may be the new gold – but many OEMs struggle to leverage the potential of their most precious customer data. Typically, they do not follow a clear and standardized data governance process, resulting in inefficient data management, and they lack organizational design and communication structures to connect, enhance and share insights. If data quality is poor or incomplete, the result will be uncertainty in planning marketing budgets and in projecting sales. 

To maximize sales conversions and efficiently attribute campaigning efforts to the most successful touchpoints, it is crucial to first align on goals, objectives and KPIs. Once these are defined the required tracking infrastructure along the entire customer journey can be created, so that each touchpoint generates customer traffic and conversion insights, which in turn shapes marketing budget splits and touchpoint optimization measures. 

Standardized architecture – the foundation of personalization

All OEMs need to build one single tech architecture that harmonizes data, systems and processes to enable CX across the entire customer journey. Doing so takes time and demands prioritization of the backlog to guide delivery to the highest CX value first. 

Seamless customer journeys are hard to realize because touchpoints are often based on non-unified IT systems that cannot access the same data and that lack interfaces to provide truly personalized customer experiences. This is why enabling technologies are frequently optimized for single touchpoints. The result: national sales companies develop local solutions and define their individual local journeys, perpetuating highly fragmented system landscapes, data security inefficiencies and high maintenance costs. 

Harmonization of this architecture can transform CX. Cross-functional teams rather than separated business and IT functions will help establish transparency, allowing accurate attribution of revenue growth and customer satisfaction to underlying technologies, and ultimately enabling continuous improvement, better customer focus and higher degrees of personalization.

This means that OEMs should bite the bullet and let go of legacy systems. Even if maintaining them seems cheaper than investments in modern platforms, they hinder the development of innovative solutions that cut long-term costs and improve CX targeting and business goal achievement. 

Standardized architecture – the foundation of personalization

All OEMs need to build one single tech architecture that harmonizes data, systems and processes to enable CX across the entire customer journey. Doing so takes time and demands prioritization of the backlog to guide delivery to the highest CX value first. 

Seamless customer journeys are hard to realize because touchpoints are often based on non-unified IT systems that cannot access the same data and that lack interfaces to provide truly personalized customer experiences. This is why enabling technologies are frequently optimized for single touchpoints. The result: national sales companies develop local solutions and define their individual local journeys, perpetuating highly fragmented system landscapes, data security inefficiencies and high maintenance costs. 

Harmonization of this architecture can transform CX. Cross-functional teams rather than separated business and IT functions will help establish transparency, allowing accurate attribution of revenue growth and customer satisfaction to underlying technologies, and ultimately enabling continuous improvement, better customer focus and higher degrees of personalization.

This means that OEMs should bite the bullet and let go of legacy systems. Even if maintaining them seems cheaper than investments in modern platforms, they hinder the development of innovative solutions that cut long-term costs and improve CX targeting and business goal achievement. 

Less is more – digital hyperactivity confuses customers and OEMs alike 

Centralized CX portfolio orchestration must shape the creation, maintenance and optimization of customer journey touchpoints.

Digital channels have made it easy to create customer touchpoints. Carmakers’ big marketing budgets make it easy to increase digital share of voice. Yet spending these budgets efficiently on touchpoints that encourage customers to convert is difficult. The rate at which new digital touchpoints are created exceeds the rate at which digital governance succeeds in aligning them. 

This leaves OEMs trapped in a broken landscape of touchpoints that are not part of a centrally orchestrated customer journey. Typically, OEMs are not able to determine the success of specific touchpoints and whether to build upon or abandon them. More importantly, it leaves customers confused when they are confronted by information overload and touchpoint inconsistencies. Customers prefer logical sequences of touchpoints that build upon one another across channels with relevant information and relevant calls for action. Today’s customers have learned – mostly from industries other than automotive – to expect certain levels of consistency, transparency, and simplicity in communication. Some auto industry start-ups are confronting these challenges, but many incumbents are not. 

Outdated budgeting – the root cause of silo-think 

Requirement-driven budget planning is past its sell-by date. It should be replaced with goal-driven budget planning, where cross-functional expert teams estimate what resources are needed to achieve a desired outcome. 

Most OEMs plan their budgets long before they are utilized. By the end of the planning year, budgets are often set in stone, and some unused budgets transfer automatically to the following year or even two years. With this way of working, agility in the face of changing external and internal parameters is almost impossible. 

Planning cycles of such length undermine making CX a high priority because no one can forecast exact customer needs in two years’ time, let alone the feature requirements that meet them.

OEMs are struggling to exit the budget trap due to rigid hierarchies and behaviors that incentivize self-optimization by single business functions. The delivery of a budgeted requirement counts as success, whether it improves CX or not. What is lacking is central direction capable of managing cross-functional backlogs, which should be the basis for planning. In a CX-focused organization, planning and delivery go hand-in-hand and are not governed by calendar years.

Outdated budgeting – the root cause of silo-think 

Requirement-driven budget planning is past its sell-by date. It should be replaced with goal-driven budget planning, where cross-functional expert teams estimate what resources are needed to achieve a desired outcome. 

Most OEMs plan their budgets long before they are utilized. By the end of the planning year, budgets are often set in stone, and some unused budgets transfer automatically to the following year or even two years. With this way of working, agility in the face of changing external and internal parameters is almost impossible. 

Planning cycles of such length undermine making CX a high priority because no one can forecast exact customer needs in two years’ time, let alone the feature requirements that meet them.

OEMs are struggling to exit the budget trap due to rigid hierarchies and behaviors that incentivize self-optimization by single business functions. The delivery of a budgeted requirement counts as success, whether it improves CX or not. What is lacking is central direction capable of managing cross-functional backlogs, which should be the basis for planning. In a CX-focused organization, planning and delivery go hand-in-hand and are not governed by calendar years.

Prioritize customer experience – sustainably

Berylls Mad Media identifies four cornerstones that ensure CX focus from ideation to delivery and continuous optimization:

1.

A journey execution framework to develop a central customer journey by standardizing data, systems and processes that build the foundation for personalization.

1. A journey execution framework to develop a central customer journey by standardizing data, systems and processes that build the foundation for personalization. 

2.

An end-to-end data strategy to track and analyze touchpoint performance across the customer journey.

2. An end-to-end data strategy to track and analyze touchpoint performance across the customer journey.

3.

A centralized customer experience portfolio to ensure consistency across touchpoints and facilitate cross-domain prioritization and agile delivery of the product backlog.

3. A centralized customer experience portfolio to ensure consistency across touchpoints and facilitate cross-domain prioritization and agile delivery of the product backlog.

4.

A test-and-learn approach to iteratively design touchpoints and gather high-frequency customer feedback to quickly validate or reject hypotheses.

4. A test-and-learn approach to iteratively design touchpoints and gather high-frequency customer feedback to quickly validate or reject hypotheses.

Journey execution framework

The journey execution framework (JEF) is a tool that integrates CX focus across organizational layers. It ensures that all teams – even those who have traditionally identified as backend functions – understand their impact on customer experience. The JEF consists of three interconnected levels:

Level 1: Journey Blueprint

Organizations need to understand the customer perspective. The JEF is centered around one target customer journey, an idealized process that illustrates how a customer moves from brand awareness, consideration, checkout, and purchase to ownership including aftersales and eventually repurchase.

Even while customers seldom follow the exact target journey, the JEF sets important guidelines that facilitate product, marketing, and service decisions.

The customer journey template provides OEMs with new levels of control over their customers’ experiences.

The full target journey is broken down into use cases that can be put into operation, and each one becomes a micro journey with clear start and end points, that can be prioritized by their impact on purchase decisions.

Level 2: Interaction Blueprint

Use cases can be put into operation with process charts that link touchpoints across online and offline channels, bounded by use case entry and exit points. Drafting effective use cases demands the involvement of experts – it is through collaborating with stakeholders that the charts show their true power as vehicles to drive discussions.

The interaction blueprint for micro journeys offers a high level of control due to clear scoping and higher level of detail.

The charts of sales-related use cases show how to loop users who abandoned the target journey back into the funnel.

The interaction blueprint visualizes customers’ interactions with touchpoints and customer-facing services.

Level 3: Architecture Blueprint

The architecture blueprint picks up where the interaction blueprint stops by mapping technology enablers to specific use cases. It serves as a key element for standardization by applying the architecture and data flow mapping approach to the use cases from the entire customer journey.

Enabling technologies will be mapped to the interaction blueprint, including all relevant systems and data sources, with tech experts supporting this process.

The blueprint across different micro journeys builds the foundation for and drives the overall IT target architecture.

The resulting requirements flow into a central backlog that represents the basis for delivery. Critically, the backlog needs to be governed by a central body, authorized to manage crossfunctional requirements that historically were developed and delivered in functional silos.

End-to-end data strategy

Data must be a key source of truth that is consulted for every strategic decision. To achieve an overarching data strategy, a homogeneous data structure must be defined across information collected directly from customers, as well as third-party data (from data providers), and analytics data. From there, all the data must be collected and processed in a uniform system. Resources that are capable of processing and deriving insights must be established. 

Homogeneous data management is the cornerstone that enables the individualized touchpoints along the customer journey. To implement this strategy, OEMs need to achieve the following:

  • Establish a holistic customer view across all channels, linking marketing, sales and service.
  • Create real-time triggers based on customer data to achieve meaningful customer interactions.
  • Define personalized next-best actions and install next-best offers based on learnings from customer interactions.
  • Standardize communication patterns to provide consistency across the customer experience.

#1 Establish a holistic customer view across all channels, linking marketing, sales and service.

#2 Create real-time triggers based on customer data to achieve meaningful customer interactions.

#3 Define personalized next-best actions and install next-best offers based on learnings from customer interactions.

#4 Standardize communication patterns to provide consistency across the customer experience.

The building blocks for a homogeneous data structure:

Customer-centricity

Understand your customer based on direct and third-party insights.

Personalization

Show relevant content at the right time on the preferred channel.

Performance

Fully automate cross-channel views of campaign performance for real-time decision-making.

Customer-centricity

Understand your customer based on direct and third-party insights.

Personalization

Show relevant content at the right time on the preferred channel.

Performance

Fully automate cross-channel views of campaign performance for real-time decision-making.

Centralized customer experience portfolio

An organization capable of end-to-end CX focus requires a centralized portfolio: 

  • Definition of only one central target customer journey, from which use cases and touchpoints are reverse-engineered. While the customer journey is broken down into use cases that consist of several touchpoints, all elements aim to realize that one target journey.
  • All elements of the JEF are designed at a central level. Touchpoint blueprints and the system infrastructure can be centrally developed and maintained, and deployed in markets.

  • Some elements, especially offline touchpoints and legal requirements, continue to call for local adaptations, but these adaptations should be closely aligned with central objectives.

  • Clear processes enable cross-domain prioritization and agile delivery of central portfolio backlogs.

  • Resource and budget allocation is based on the central backlog to break up departmental silos.

#1 Definition of only one central target customer journey, from which use cases and touchpoints are reverse-engineered. While the customer journey is broken down into use cases that consist of several touchpoints, all elements aim to realize that one target journey.

#2 All elements of the JEF are designed at a central level. Touchpoint blueprints and the system infrastructure can be centrally developed and maintained, and deployed in markets.

#3 Some elements, especially offline touchpoints and legal requirements, continue to call for local adaptations, but these adaptations should be closely aligned with central objectives.

#4 Clear processes enable cross-domain prioritization and agile delivery of central portfolio backlogs.

#5 Resource and budget allocation is based on the central backlog to break up departmental silos.

Centralization serves multiple benefits:

Control

Visualize the entire CX to ensure a smooth customer journey.

Efficiency

Reduce duplication and realize synergies.

Flexibility

Quickly adapt the target customer journey and its micro journeys based on changing customer needs.

Control

Visualize the entire CX to ensure a smooth customer journey.

Efficiency

Reduce duplication and realize synergies.

Flexibility

Quickly adapt the target customer journey and its micro journeys based on changing customer needs.

Test and learn approach

The key characteristic of companies capable of anticipating changing customer needs is flexibility. From fixed long-term plans and rigid lists of high-level requirements, OEMs need to move towards short cross-channel planning increments, based on prioritized and regularly refined backlogs. While the high-level customer journey serves as an overarching target, an agile mindset ensures sufficient flexibility to reach it. 

All OEMs should follow these fundamental guidelines:

  • Don’t start with a plan, start with hypotheses.
  • Validate or reject hypotheses by quickly gathering customer feedback with minimum viable product (MVP) launches, customer surveys and user testing.
  • Iterate based on feedback to meet your customers’ needs better, and then even better.
  • Don’t consider delivery itself as a success, define success as the desired changes in customer behavior based on your delivery.
  • Confront failure by generating learnings for real change in future iterations; beware of the sunk-cost fallacy that puts failure on repeat.

#1 Don’t start with a plan, start with hypotheses.

#2 Validate or reject hypotheses by quickly gathering customer feedback with minimum viable product (MVP) launches, customer surveys and user testing.

#3 Iterate based on feedback to meet your customers’ needs better, and then even better.

#4 Don’t consider delivery itself as a success, define success as the desired changes in customer behavior based on your delivery.

#5 Confront failure by generating learnings for real change in future iterations; beware of the sunk-cost fallacy that puts failure on repeat.

Conclusion

Berylls Mad Media helps clients transform into truly customer-centric organizations that focus on personalized customer experiences. We are a team of CX specialists who have successfully guided clients across industries with this challenging endeavor.

We ensure that CX doesn’t stop with a design sprint or prototype. We facilitate the development of target customer journeys, from which we reverse-engineer a consistent landscape of marketing and sales touchpoints, based on standardized technologies. We build the foundation for tracking real-life customer journey performance end-to-end with a holistic KPI framework. We support the formation of a centralized governance model that embraces shorter planning cycles, agile methodologies, and hypothesis-driven development. 

We believe that CX requires entire organizations to collaboratively work towards common goals.

Jonas Wagner
Jonas Wagner (1978) is a Partner at Berylls Strategy Advisors and Managing Director of Berylls Mad Media. He has been a consultant in the automotive industry for more than 18 years. Wagner supports the strategy and organizational development of leading automotive manufacturers in the transformation of their sales and marketing. This includes the digitalization of the customer interface, the introduction of new sales models and the development of a data-driven sales and marketing organization. The focus is on optimizing the customer journey across all divisional boundaries – whether sales, after sales or financial services.
Before joining Berylls, he worked for the strategy consulting firm Oliver Wyman for automotive manufacturers in Germany and abroad.
He studied business administration at the Aarhus School of Business and at the University of Mannheim, focus on international management, marketing and controlling.
Christian Herr

Christian Herr (1988) is a Principal at Berylls Mad Media. He has been a consultant for more than 10 years, advising clients in IT and CX transformations, ranging from CX strategy definition to implementation.

His professional background builds around data driven sales & marketing, especially focusing on customer experience excellence, customer journey design and execution. This includes planning and implementing customer-centric and data-driven end-to-end solutions to deliver excellent customer experiences along the entire customer journey. Before joining Berylls, he worked for various clients in different industries in Germany and abroad.

Christian studied business informatics at KIT in Karlsruhe and at DHBW in Mannheim, with focus on service management, engineering, and business informatics.