The stakes have never been higher for the automotive sector. As Ford CEO Jim Farley commented in a video shared at Salesforce's 2022 Dreamforce conference, "[a] company really doesn't get serious about change until something happens to it." In recent years, companies have certainly had plenty of reasons to start evolving; consumer expectations are at an all-time high, the EV revolution is accelerating, and companies throughout the industry face increased pressure to innovate their selling models.
Dealers and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) can no longer make do with the tactics and tools of yesteryear — and fortunately, they no longer need to. In September, Salesforce announced the debut of Automotive Cloud, a comprehensive CRM solution tailor-made to help dealers and OEMs overcome industry challenges.
"The automotive industry is facing a new digital imperative amidst massive upheaval brought on by the rise of direct-to-consumer models and the dawn of the electric vehicle age," Achyut Jajoo, Salesforce's SVP & GM of Manufacturing and Automotive, commented in a press release. "But with great disruption comes great opportunity, and companies accelerating into the digital-first future with technology like Automotive Cloud can gain a competitive edge while simultaneously future-proofing their businesses."
Once equipped with Automotive Cloud, automotive organizations can achieve a 360° view of their customers, deliver personalized experiences at scale, and leverage automation to achieve more efficient operations. The product marks the 13th addition to Salesforce's increasingly robust portfolio of industry-specific solutions — and, according to Gerent's Automotive Practice Lead, Nikhil Bhatia, has the potential to be transformative for the automotive sector.
"People who work in the car business believe in it. They like being around cars and genuinely care about helping customers find vehicles that suit their driving needs and lifestyle," Bhatia said. "But despite their best efforts, these employees often don't have the tools they need — they haven't been empowered to create that great customer experience. Automotive Cloud can facilitate that empowerment."
What Is Automotive Cloud?
Automotive Cloud is an innovative new platform that empowers OEMs and dealers to operationalize their data, achieve unprecedented visibility into their operations, and drive better performance through every stage of the customer and vehicle lifecycle. The product is built atop Salesforce's robust data foundation and offers an extensive library of industry-tailored apps and processes.
"Whenever Salesforce has developed an industry-specific solution, whether it's Health Cloud, Manufacturing Cloud, or even Nonprofit Cloud, they have always delivered on solving the big critical problems that the industry faces," Bhatia noted.
With Automotive Cloud's Driver360, OEMs and dealers can alleviate their fragmented pain points and leverage one platform to sell, service, and delight their customers. Moreover, because Salesforce provides a data-rich view of customers and vehicles, employees can obtain the real-time intelligence they need to engage more efficiently and constructively at every touchpoint. Automotive Cloud's process automation capabilities also make it easier for teams to collaborate with external partners and stakeholders.
The product’s key features include (but are not limited to):
- Vehicle Console — Achieve instant insight into your customers and vehicles; with Vehicle Console, team members can access household information, odometer readers, vehicle market value, service insights, and more.
- Automotive Lead Management — Route high-value leads to the right dealership along with a snapshot of each customer's unique wants, needs, and history.
- Dealer Performance Management — Leverage Automotive Cloud's real-time data capabilities to assess dealership performance and better coordinate sales agreements, site visits, partner collaborations, and more.
- Flow for Automotive — Use Salesforce's click-based configuration and integration tools to provide intelligent automation and empower your team members to deliver better experiences at scale.
- Analytics for Automotive — Achieve better business outcomes faster with purpose-built dashboards that provide detailed overviews of sales and business performance, customer and asset life cycles, and revenue trends.
But that’s not all; organizations that leverage Automotive Cloud will have access to new product features three times per year, every spring, winter, and summer. Customers can also take advantage of the innovative features developed for Sales Cloud and Service Cloud — both of which are component parts of Automotive Cloud.
“Salesforce delivers immediate relief for pressing industry pain points and facilitates long-term cost-savings,” Bhatia explained. “Automotive Cloud provides a foundational framework that organizations can build upon; it scales with the organizations that use it.”
By implementing Automotive Cloud, organizations can:
- Achieve an overall reduction in technical debt and the total cost of owning a CRM framework
- Sidestep the need for complicated solution customizations and expensive, large-scope integration projects
- Standardize data across the organization’s digital ecosystem and establish a culture of data stewardship that drives better business outcomes
The product’s value is immediately evident; however, it's crucial to recognize that technology alone can only take an forward-looking business so far. To achieve real change, OEMs and dealers need to pair their digitalization strategies with well-designed innovation initiatives.
Operationalizing Automotive Cloud with Gerent
Digital transformation isn't a challenge that businesses need to take on alone. Automotive organizations can — and should — connect with Salesforce consultants to design and execute high-value innovation initiatives. At Gerent, we specialize in providing such support; in the decade-plus since our founding, our team has completed over 1,000 successful Salesforce implementations and maintained a five-star customer satisfaction rating. This year, we even launched a practice specifically for automotive clients.
"We are in a great position as of 2022," Bhatia shared. "I've never seen this much momentum for this transformation or so many people interested in creating solutions and solving problems."