Autodata Solutions and J.D. Power: Here’s our plan to improve the automotive customer experience


Craig Jennings, President of the Autodata Solutions Division of J.D. Power, and Bernardo Rodriguez, Chief Digital and Technology Officer of J.D. Power.

The merger of Autodata Solutions and J.D. Power – announced in December of 2019 – creates a valuable player in the data and analytics space for the automotive industry. The new integrated organization brings over 80 years of experience tracking critical flows of information that have helped executives optimize their decision-making processes. To better understand the joint value-proposition of the merged company, we caught up with Craig Jennings, President of the Autodata Solutions Division of J.D. Power and Bernardo Rodriguez, Chief Digital and Technology Officer of J.D. Power. Here is what they had to say:

 

Q: Why has the customer experience become a challenge for the auto industry?

Jennings: The automotive industry has long realized the importance of harnessing the power of data to improve the customer experience. The current digital environment has made capturing, analyzing and acting on a wide array of data even more critical. However, the big frustration for most players across the ecosystem has been the fragmented and siloed nature of the data.

Rodriguez: The problem of data fragmentation cannot be overstated. There is, for instance, a large gap between the experience that buyers have online – as they evaluate options for their next car – and what happens when they actually go to the dealership. Many of these issues exist because it is very difficult to develop alignment and integration among OEMs, dealers and other value-chain participants.

 

Q: How do you solve this fragmentation of data across the value chain?

Rodriguez: Addressing this issue requires the seamless integration of customer-facing digital/ecommerce tools and back-office systems. If you think about all the components of customer experience — which include delivering what people want, where and when they want it, at the right price – dealers and manufacturers need to have effective online tools that support the offline world. This is important if you want to avoid a compromised customer experience. This happens whenever customers – having researched what they want to buy – arrive at a dealership with a clear idea of the vehicle they wish to purchase, only to discover that it is not available. They either walk off the lot without making a purchase or buy a vehicle that does not match up with their expectations.

 

Q: What are the implications for manufacturers?

Jennings: For OEMs, this means being a lot smarter about where and how customers are targeted, what incentives to implement and what vehicles to put into market. OEMs and dealers know what they want: to sell more cars. With Autodata Solutions and J.D. Power, mission-critical tools are being made available to manage this complexity and support decisions that accelerate the delivery of positive business outcomes – such as more efficient incentive spend and better vehicle allocation.

 

Q: How does the merger of Autodata Solutions and J.D. Power help address these issues?

Jennings: From a legacy perspective, Autodata Solutions had some key pieces, but was missing some key pieces as well. We have a lot of tools and solutions that are utilized to create the shopping experience – whether they’re configuration tools, inventory tools, price-my-car tools, find-a-dealer tools or compare inventory tools. We also have our OEM Digital Program where we now have agreements between the manufacturer and the dealers to hire partners who agree to adhere to certain standards and work to make the shopping experience better. We’ve got an ecosystem where everybody is agreeing that we need to work together.

So, we have the tools, and they are used throughout the industry on portals and websites – but they are only tools.

Rodriguez: Now what J.D. Power brings to the table are our consumer insights. We talk with millions of consumers every year about what they think about the products they purchase and the experiences that they have when they buy or service a car. Doing this for many, many years running, we can benchmark different OEMs for the customer experience in a standardized way.

Jennings: Autodata Solutions and J.D. Power together are able to impartially inform OEMs and dealers where and how to invest their time and how they can work together to create better allocation, better vehicles, better relationships with partners and better spend decisions. We are looking forward to discussing our joint value proposition with key stakeholders in the industry to explore how – together – we can get better insights from the data that is available to improve the customer experience.