MARKET | Feb 2, 2017

Innovation in the automotive industry. Interview with Luigi Falasco of Renault Italia

Data, business intelligence and analytics tools at the service of the Automotive industry

For a brand to be successful today, it must be able to clearly communicate its strengths to the customer, offering the best services at the right time, in the right place, to the right person, through the right channel. Even cars are no longer chosen based solely on the price/performance ratio. It is necessary to progress from a CRM-oriented approach to one oriented towards Customer Experience.

The interview with Luigi Falasco, Director of Information Systems at Renault Italia SpA, begins with these words.

In recent years, the focus in the automotive industry has also gradually shifted from the product to the consumer, which is why careful analysis of the needs of people, but above all their expectations, is necessary in order to provide an ad hoc, omnichannel purchasing experience capable of maximising the probabilities of purchasing and repurchasing. What approaches have been taken by Renault Italia in this regard?

The concept of driving experience, just like the needs of drivers, is constantly evolving and the proof lies in the growing use of the connected car: 27 million on the current world market, a figure expected to triple by 2020. Infotainment, Security, Maintenance, Driving Style and Navigation services offer tangible added value. Investing in technologies that allow the driver to communicate with the parent company, customer service, dealer or nearest workshop, or to obtain information tailored to his/her needs directly in the cabin, will increasingly ensure OEMs greater competitiveness and strengthening of the bond between brand and user, encouraging their interaction even after purchase and improving the customer journey.

Also for us, as for many other companies, one of the main objectives is to improve the customer experience with a vast programme for welcoming the customer. Over the last three years we have been significantly developing CRM activity in order to customise the best offers for the customer that take better account of his/her needs, requirements and timing.

What strategies have been implemented by Renault?

Within the company, we are proceeding with strong use of business intelligence and at the same time spreading tools to facilitate the work of colleagues, for example by automating the preparation of reports through the recovery and analysis of data and business forecasts, going in depth into analysis of commercial dynamics. By examining the historical effectiveness of various types of promotional activities, we are also seeking to understand the extent to which their use can be truly effective.
Integration of the real and the digital world is required not only to allow the consumer to use different channels for the purchase, but also and above all to facilitate comparison and evaluation of products, and to improve the showroom experience. Creating an omnichannel strategy means being ready to satisfy the tastes, needs and expectations of customers throughout the entire customer journey, from evaluation to purchasing and the creation of loyalty, and with any touchpoint.

What are the most important projects you are working on?

Together with Engineering, we have designed the Customer Interaction 2.0 area, namely an innovative space dedicated to multimediality and digital technologies. We have imagined what the “Dealership of the Future” might look like: able to recognise and receive the customer in a personalised way at the entrance to the dealership, notify the sales force of the arrival of a customer, manage advertising and information messages in a targeted way in the dealership and in post-visit offers, increase the appeal of the cars on display based on the information requested by the customer interested in purchasing, and manage surveys and questionnaires on satisfaction.

Remaining in this context of development, we have decided to implement a pilot project in one of our dealerships on analysis of patronage of showrooms through the use of innovative technology that translates the flow of visitors into an algorithm for an anonymous but unequivocal headcount. The analysis of influx which is effected through video equipment does not provide for the storage of images in order to respect the privacy of visitors. Undoubtedly, however, this type of analysis is very useful for examining the commercial dynamic, directly connecting the activation of promotional activities with the influx at points of sale. For example, last weekend we organised a two-day open house and thanks to this project we reported an increase in visitors of around 50-60%. Analysis of this flow allows us to better meet customer expectations and bring them closer and more effectively to the Renault offer.

What objectives have been achieved in terms of strengthening the corporate brand?

Our customer satisfaction surveys show that we have achieved an excellent positioning for recommendability, obtaining a percentage of over 80% in both sales and after-sales, which are still growing. In Italy, the average percentage of loyalty towards car purchasing is around 35% so there is much work to do to be better positioned in the market. The fact that more than 8 out of 10 customers are satisfied not only with the product but also with care and support is an important goal for us. A trait that distinguishes us as a company is undoubtedly the openness to innovation, also in order to develop a better user experience.

What is the added value of data and data analysis in your industry?

A key factor in the success of our initiatives is the integration of information: data collection, obviously with the consent of the customer, must be correlated and analysed in the complex of corporate information systems (budgeting and sales, CRM, workshop operations, data from connected cars, logistics, stock, customer care, competitiveness, web analytics, customer satisfaction questionnaires, etc.). Proper analysis of data improves the knowledge with which correlations can be made between resource effectiveness and end sales.

With regard to commercial data there is obviously an interest in terms of effectiveness but today we have far too many commercial data. What we are trying to achieve are quality data that should be isolated, through business intelligence tools, from the enormous flow in order to be able to recognise the commercial trend. Redefinition of processes has positive impacts in economic terms: in Renault Italia, for example, we have managed to cover almost all analysis needs of the company in all the various departments with an investment of 50,000 euros in an integrated business intelligence tool.

Emma Pietrafesa