Apple’s iPad may be revolutionizing customer service for auto dealers
The iPad has received much hype since Apple’s announcement. But the news that really caught my attention was Hyundai’s offering an iPad in the glove box of every new Equus. The Equus is the brand’s most expensive vehicle, a premium sedan aiming to be a BMW 7 series alternative. The iPad will serve as a service manual instead of the standard brochure.
Now this may sound like a slight come down for Apple — why have a $500 computer serve as a book — but there is a marketing advantage for Hyundai and Apple, along with an analytics opportunity as well.
Hyundai is in an interesting position. It has been strengthening its brand as of late to gain more upscale customers, but unlike Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, they can not create a whole new network and sales division by scratch (ie Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura). Adding an iPad creates a special and timely interest about the Equus.
For Apple, the inclusion addresses the criticisms for what an iPad can be besides an extra computer device. Although much has been said about the ebook reader capability (and even more said about e-book pricing — more later in a separate post), there are not many innovative examples to show the capability of an iPad or Slate device. Replacing the service manual changes that. The iPad revitalizes a long ignored feature in an automobile and renews the usability in an interesting way, similar to how Starbucks revitalized how consumers perceive coffee.
The iPad also becomes an analytics conduit for information. According to USA Today’s article on Hyundai and Apple, the iPad will provide service information:
“The iPad will also schedule service appointments, for which owners won’t even have to drive to the dealer. To give the brand a more upscale feel, (Hyundai CEO John) Krafcik is creating a system in which a service attendant will pick up the car from the owner and leave them a loaner. Hyundai also is offering home test drives for potential buyers.”
This means increased customer service capability and more information on its target customers, premium buyers. Toyota, Nissan, and Honda had the natural progression of customer lifestyle — buyers wanting more premium vehicles as they progress professionally — but these brands did not have the feedback potential Hyundai will have from customer communication to the dealer via the iPad (Maybe Toyota could learn a trick or two for the Lexus LF-A — see the Zimana blog post on it.)
Can an iPad be better in a Hyundai? With a little analytics, like Obama, yes it can!
Takeaways for small businesses:
- Match your branding accordingly with whomever you partner with — Apple is not a luxury brand, but features and its stores incorporate features of a premium brand (and it is positioning iPad to be superior to netbooks). This is a fit for Hyundai, which is not an Acura but will limit production on Equus, establishing some premium level above the vehicle on the second rung, Genesis.
- Technology can serve as a gateway to offline engagement of customers. Using the iPad will allow Hyundai to use all the techniques and tools to encourage a positive engagement at the dealership. Auto owners have had a negative impression of dealership experience, and all automakers struggle to ensure that any repair is a positive experience that will lead to repeat sales.
- Analytics can aid your brands effort to strengthen its image by providing a means to gather customer feedback and infer how to improve customer service or product offering.