Over the past five to ten years, the automotive industry has seen huge interest across the region. Established brands in the Middle East have increased and adapted the products that they bring to the market. They’re offering more technology, luxury, and modern design than ever before. It’s not limited to the old hierarchy of European or American companies, with Japanese and Korean counterparts also offering exceptional quality with very competitive pricing. What this has caused is an even more competitive market, and this is great news for customers who, as well as getting an even wider choice of models to choose from, now have options offering better quality and technology, without necessarily paying a high price for it.
With the product quality and technology gap slowly closing with the exception to the ultra-luxury brands, this has caused further saturation, and an abundance of choice for the buyer. What this all means is that as automotive manufacturers, we have had to adapt and change. When we sell a customer a car now, we sell them a lifestyle. At Cadillac, for example, we take people on a journey of various experiences that they identify with, making them proud to drive a Cadillac as it mirrors their life and ambitions. This is done on a global, and a local level. Customers’ buying decisions no longer depend on the brand or the vehicle itself, but the experience they have outside of the vehicle. Smart customers will also judge your brand and your products based on the experience they receive. Hence, it’s critical to provide a seamless, consistent, and premium experience from the moment they visit your website, to when they enter your showroom to purchase a vehicle, through to when they take their vehicle to be serviced.
The ownership experience is now playing more of a role than ever in influencing a person’s decision whether or not to purchase a vehicle. Knowing whether or not you can expect to have a good or bad experience with a dealer is becoming just as important as ensuring the car itself meets your needs. Again, this is where the battles are won and lost for many brands. You can see now across the GCC and Levant, upgrades and renovations taking place for many showrooms, elevating the customer’s perception and experience. New technologies are introduced to help the potential buyer see and imagine the car they are considering, with drawers and walls filled with different colors, leathers and trims for them to combine and choose from. With more and more brands competing for the same customers, keeping them as customers for life has become a standard target for many automakers. One of the biggest factors to allow this is the quality of aftersales service: the industry here has also changed and adapted. Many now offer shorter service times, replacement vehicles while your vehicle is being serviced or repaired, and same day appointments– all in the interests of providing a better customer experience that puts convenience for the customer first.
The stakes are high in a connected world, where one dissatisfied customer can tell the world of their experience and cause major brand reputation damage. In the coming years, the industry will begin to see big shifts and an even tougher competition between brands to capture customer attention. This is good news for any car buyer, as they will have the luxury of choice knowing that each brand is vying to retain them for life, and hoping to sell them the latest model to come off the production line. Customer service is not something that is perfected overnight, brands have to continually make sure that every step and decision taken is made with the customer in mind. We all know that premium vehicles packed with the latest connectivity technologies can be (and are being) manufactured, and so, the deciding factor is now on the experience the owner has outside of the vehicle- not just in it.