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Revitalizing Customer Experience in the Automotive Domain

Jonah Hong, Corporate Vice President and Head of Digital Customer Experience, Hyundai Motor Company

Jonah Hong, Corporate Vice President and Head of Digital Customer Experience, Hyundai Motor Company

Jonah Hong, with impeccable judgement and the ability to make sound decisions in dynamic settings, is the Corporate Vice President and Head of Digital Customer Experience for Hyundai Motor Company. Mr. Hong's perspective from his experience in a variety of roles enables him to offer clients quick and painless solutions.

WHAT ARE THE CHANGES AND CHALLENGES THAT YOU CURRENTLY FACE AND RESOLVE IN CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MANAGEMENT WITH RESPECT TO THE MOBILITY SECTOR?

Automotive purchase is never impulsive, even for a financially sound customer. They invest a lot of time, energy, research, and effort into buying an automobile, and therefore, one epic failure after a series of great services can ruin the company’s reputation. This necessitates the expansion of customer experience management on the entire journey, and managing well at every touch point. So, the challenge is to have a significant setup to manage the entire landscape of customer experience.

At Hyundai, we have a macro journey map to understand the customers’ interaction at a macro level. The customer’s journey begins with the thought and research to buy an automobile, so does the customer experience management. For instance, people prefer websites to research rather than random dealership visits. Therefore, we strive to provide an engaging, personalized and informative website. A great customer experience at customers’ planning stage allures them to our products and services. It then extends to the purchase and ownership journey where we offer quality service and maintenance to retain customers. The journey can be as long as four to seven years depending on the average car ownership in the country. Irrespective of the timeline and the number of touchpoints, the macro journey map understands and manages the entire journey from the choice of product to its ownership, delivering a good experience.

AS YOU MENTIONED THAT MORE PEOPLE ARE MOVING TOWARDS DIGITAL PURCHASES, HOW DO YOU SEE THE DIGITAL EXPERIENCE LANDSCAPE OF THE AUTOMOTIVE SECTOR?

According to our numerous internal discussions, digital customer experience has dual aspects. Firstly, the experience is digital itself. As I stated earlier, the customer could be accessing us through websites or digital applications. Secondly, the definition of digital does not necessarily confine to the initial touch point. It is largely dependent on where the data is created. For example, if we conduct pop-up stores but could not get a passer-by’s details, it remains an offline touch point, whereas, if a person shows interest and shares their email address, it is a digital touch point from there.

"Companies are accustomed to providing one-off experiences, but connecting them makes the difference"

Moreover, data management happens when there is data digitally involved. Unless the customer’s data gets into the company’s CRM, we cannot do much from the management perspective. If a salesperson works outside the CRM, it lowers the effectiveness of management as the data cannot be coordinated. In essence, customer experience can be described as the content that we deliver in order to satisfy the customers, whereas customer experience management is handling the digitally put customer’s data. 

CAN YOU ELABORATE ON ANY OF YOUR RECENT INITIATIVES WHICH SUPPLEMENTS CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MANAGEMENT?

We have several initiatives in place. As data is the most crucial aspect of digital customer experience, we are revamping our customer relationship management (CRM) across the globe. The CRM upgradation aims at a different perspective in assisting data system upgrade to know the customers. In addition, we prioritize working on websites to ensure a great customer experience. The present-day websites are already functional in that they enable on-the-spot purchases and service enquiries. Although we have a functional website live, we are revamping our website landscape across the globe to host 170 websites in total, tailored for each country, language, and territory.

We are also into personalized marketing. Unlike the traditional advertisements, digital marketing allows product segregation to achieve targeted marketing. We tailor separate advertisements for different models, and engage the interested audience. Now, a person interested in SUVs need not watch advertisements on sedans or vice versa. Our trend of offering personalized and relevant messages to the right audience have impressed companies like Google, and are a huge contributor to the company’s success. We take pride in our sophisticated initiatives. 

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR PIECE OF ADVICE TO THE INDUSTRY LEADERS WHO ARE PLANNING AND STRATEGIZING THEIR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE INITIATIVES?

Most of the time, customer experience management is not seen from a holistic perspective. Companies are accustomed to providing one-off experiences, but connecting them makes the difference. The process can be complex, expensive, take years of grit and diligence for companies in general, and go through legacy businesses and processes for the automotive industry in particular. But overcoming them can lead to greater accomplishments. This can be best exemplified by how Hyundai overcame the legacy to enter into the electric car space with Tesla, and won awards and hearts!

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