Deciphering Big Data

Big Data is here now and its importance to automotive retail, aftersales, customer retention and lead generation will only continue to grow in importance.

Big Data is a big deal. Harnessing the power of this data is essential to every modern company everywhere in the world and for automotive retail businesses, their approach to, and management of Big Data could be the difference between success and failure.

While the importance of gathering and understanding customer data is nothing new, the internet, mobile phones, connected cars and online retailing offer countless new data sources and channels to do business. Despite the rapidly growing importance of Big Data to business success, few automotive retail managers really understand this fairly abstract concept, so fail to harness its potential.

So what is Big Data?

In simple terms Big Data is just a collection of information – in our world, this is primarily about cars and customers. The scale of this data is almost unlimited, hence its description – Big Data. However, the myriad information sources are only useful, and crucially profitable, if it is closely managed and totally integrated across all dealership functions and then across all sites in a group. This management and integration of data is where most automotive retailers fall down, failing to capitalise on free, business- and relationship-boosting, information that can transform efficiency and boost profits if handled in the right way.

What should be done?

Right now, every dealership should be gathering this hugely valuable data about their customers. By understanding everything from the publications they read and their driving profile to lifestyle choices and servicing preferences, dealers can enrich the picture an integrated dealership has of is current and potential customer base.

Using data for customer relationships

Big Data is here now and its importance to automotive retail, aftersales, customer retention and lead generation will only continue to grow in importance. Dealers can no longer rely solely on the size of a customer database or the reach of PR or paid-for marketing. Once initial contact has been made – in any form – the customer relationship should never end. This approach ensures that the data gathered simply grows as customers continue to interact with the dealership (remotely or onsite).

While the evolving world of customer relations and management of their data is a moving feast, one certainty is that the relationship is definitely becoming more fragmented, touch points are fewer and interaction is less personal.

I’d suggest that instead of resisting this inevitable shift, dealers and dealer groups should embrace the opportunity. Identify every opportunity to gather valuable data, record it intelligently, integrate the information across every dealership function and build their world around Big Data to secure and grow their businesses.

Author Neil Packham is Vice President and Managing Director, UK Region for CDK Global.

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