The EV race is on with OEMs across the globe competing with electric car giants such as Tesla and BYD. However, many companies face issues when it comes to navigating customer loyalty, meeting customer needs and delivery schedules – especially in the new landscape of electrification where many EV consumers are first-timers.

Any dip in customer satisfaction and loyalty can be highly damaging to a brand’s reputation, especially in the case of new EV companies entering the electric arena who are starting from a position of being relative unknowns.

To assist with these issues, a specialist in experience management, Medallia, offers advice to industry players when it comes to keeping customers loyal to the brand, rather than the product, something which can help foster their willingness to embrace new EV developments and help the OEM build long-term relationships. 

We spoke to Jodi Searl, VP of industry solutions for automotive at Medallia, to discuss the challenges that OEMs are facing when it comes to customer loyalty, and how brand loyalty can be maintained.

Jodi Searl

Just Auto (JA): Could you provide me with some background on Medallia?

Jodi Searl (JS): Medallia is a pioneer and market leader in experience management, including customer, employee, citizen, and patient experience. Medallia’s enterprise experience, platform and technology empower brands to capture billions of experience signals across interactions, including all voice, video, digital, IoT, social media and corporate messaging tools.

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Medallia also uses proprietary artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to automatically reveal predictive insights that drive powerful business actions and outcomes.

What trends do you see in the market, customer relationships and brand behaviours when it comes to EVs?

If we were to look at legacy OEMs versus the relative newcomers (i.e., Lucid, Tesla, Rivian, etc.), it’s clear that the non-legacy OEMs are quicker to adopt new technologies and integrate customer product ownership experience, as their focus and attention is solely on EV technology.

However, legacy OEMs have, in many cases, well over 100 years of experience in manufacturing and getting to market, not to mention the ability to leverage a significant brick-and-mortar dealership network in global markets. I would suggest that legacy OEMs double down on providing consistent, seamless and customized experiences along the customer journey—from research to repurchase—to continue to drive loyalty. This will require them to ensure that digital, brick-and-mortar, contact centre and dealership experiences are all designed to deliver the brand promise across the board. 

As EV market penetration grows, how can OEMs balance innovation and establish customer loyalty?

It boils down to three things: listening, analysing, and acting. OEMs need to ensure that they are capturing signals at every point along the customer journey, understanding what customers are looking for and then prioritize their actions around that.

OEMs need to ensure that they are capturing signals at every point along the customer journey

This requires OEMs to view everything through the lens of the customer and figure out how to eliminate internal silos or inconsistencies that are driving friction in the customer experience. 

Why is it critical to ensure brand loyalty over product loyalty within the EV space?

PWC and Forrester have published data about the criticality of providing outstanding customer experiences and what they found is that customers will pay up to 16% more for a great experience, but conversely, 32% of customers will walk away from a brand they love over a poor customer experience.

Macroeconomic, political, and environmental trends are accelerating automotive into the EV space. It’s here and it’s growing so both legacy and non-legacy OEMs need to ensure that they are designing purchase and ownership experiences in a way that will drive customer confidence, satisfaction, loyalty and ultimately repurchase. Brand loyalty and product loyalty can be complementary in this process.

How can this assist the industry, especially new players to the EV space?

Consumers have more access to information than ever before. They rely heavily on digital and social research often before even going to a brand website. This has become much more important to differentiate on experience than ever before.

Whether OEMs are selling via a direct-to-consumer model or via established dealerships, ensuring consistent, seamless, and customized experiences at every step of the way will help them to drive that differentiation in the EV space.