It’s not all about the price

When I joined Infomedia, one of my first goals was to get closer to the automotive industry and our customers. I set out a plan to visit our dealership partners across the globe to gain a better understanding of how they work and the growth drivers of their business.

One of the topics that I’m highly passionate about, and that we discussed about at length with OEMs and dealerships, was customer experience. In a world where there are many competing brands and services, I believe it’s never been more important to sell experience to your customers.

So, I also spent a lot of time talking to dealership customers, my friends and my family about their experiences when it comes to vehicle servicing.

My takeaway from these discussions is that vehicle servicing is not all about price. It’s also about creating a positive customer experience through transparency, service efficiency, mobility and technology optimisation.

Understanding your customers

Many dealership customers shared with me about what they evaluate during a visit to a dealership.

Customers care if the Service Advisor:

  • is courteous, knowledgeable and able to address any problems
  • communicates the need for additional repairs in a clear and timely manner
  • delivers a final invoice which matches the quote
  • has the car ready at the promised time

I also listened to many stories of customers feeling confronted with technical terminology; which made them feel uncertain, anxious and fearful about cost.

Their feedback highlights the importance for Service Advisors to communicate clearly and transparently, to ensure customers are fully informed and in control of their service experience.

Beyond the quality of repair, customers often remember their interactions with Service Advisors – this has a tangible impact on their perception of your dealership and brand.

The keys to customer experience

customer-experience

I have seen firsthand that many Service Advisors already do a great job.

Despite this, a large percentage of customers choose not to service their new vehicle from the dealership they purchased it from. Many factors contribute to this, but a recent study by JD Power indicate price and trust as key reasons for customers leaving dealerships for independent workshops.

As mentioned earlier, many customers feel confronted with technical details; resulting in them feeling uncertain, anxious and fearing about cost. Many call “their guy” (aka an independent repairer) to get a better price. Independents are known for lower labour rates, but many don’t have the capability or capacity to accommodate a customer’s demanding schedule, provide loan cars or have access to up-to-date factory repair information.

Independents often agree to the service at a lower price; but when an unforeseen repair part is required, it results in the overall service requiring more labour, more time and more budget.

So, is it really all about price? In reality, price is not always the differentiator. However, the independents do a great job managing their customers’ expectation by talking through the work that needs to be done, showing them replaced parts and providing a more personal service.

Is there a lesson here for OEM service dealerships? How do we combat the perceived notion that independent repairers are superior when it comes to price and trust?

Dealership Service Advisors need to minimise customers’ fears and anxieties by communicating effectively, providing transparent pricing and empowering the customer to feel in control.

Technology is the keystone for today’s service strategies

The last ten years have seen technology companies introduce service sales software to aid dealership staff improve their customer experience.

Here at Infomedia, we’ve been at the forefront of industry innovation. With expertise in both parts and service domains, we’ve built software that:

  • improves communication with customers before, during and after the service has been completed
  • quickly generates service and repair quotes that are accurate, professional and easy to understand
  • provides transparency by sharing the technician’s photos and videos of repair work
  • provides customers with information that reinforces the value of genuine OEM servicing

The right technology can help your customers believe their best experience and value is with you. It allows for a more personalised service and faster repair process for the customer.

Service efficiency

I recently read a case study shared by Hyundai Motor America which concluded that customers are most willing to say “Yes” to service recommendations within the first 15 minutes of their visit. The faster the repair recommendation is delivered, the greater likelihood of the customer agreeing to the repair.

superservice_murphy_-2826Therefore, being able to quickly generate a personalised and accurate account of a vehicle’s needs is a ‘game changer’ in OEM Service Department sales.

Our Superservice platform facilitates this important objective, and is used by many Hyundai dealerships globally.

Power of mobility

My dealership visits and discussions with automaker influencers also highlighted the need to attend to a new generation of digital savvy service customers, who:

  • prefer text and digital communication to phone calls and printouts
  • appreciate automated alerts and status updates so they stay informed
  • want to use a mobile app to view service recommendations, with supporting photos and videos
  • want to be communicated on their terms so they stay in control of the transaction

This is an area where franchised OEM dealerships can take the lead against the aftermarket. Dealership only solutions like our Superservice platform enable a measurable improvement in customer satisfaction for these shoppers who demand a ‘mobile-first’ experience.

Increased sales – the benefit of good customer experience

I believe that with the right technology, dealerships can easily improve the service experience by being more open and transparent with customers. This leads to an increase in customer trust, which in turn, grows parts and labour sales.

How do we know this? One case study from a dealership in the U.S. showed that our Superservice solution:

  • adds nearly $200 to each vehicle’s service transaction
  • converts 44% of the service recommendations on the same day as the inspection report was delivered
  • closes an additional 24% in parts and labour sales; when photo or video evidence is delivered along with the estimate

As the saying goes, seeing is believing!

So while price is perceived to be a factor in the consumers’ ranking of a service provider, in reality it’s more about perceived value. Dealerships need to adopt service technology that facilitates better communication and creates transparency in the selling process. In doing this, your customers will feel engaged, educated and believe in the value of genuine OEM servicing. They’ll remember you for being trustworthy and trying to help.

Our Values, Our DNA

Here at Infomedia, we’ve recently refreshed our company core values. The reset in values comes at a time when our company is transforming from being a publishing company to a truly global SaaS business. Our core values have been synchronised to align with the type of performance culture we want to create, and they are a part of our DNA to support growth.

Below are Infomedia’s new values:

  • Accelerating Performance
  • Driving Innovation & Service
  • Navigating Global, Steering Local
  • Having Fun in the Fast Lane

Some might discount corporate values as fluffy sentiments, used to build the perfect, glossy, corporate brand. However, our corporate values are not just meaningless words written on our website, they embody our desire to drive business performance, staff satisfaction and grow shareholder value.

We believe that having values is essential and an integral part of our organisation. Why?

It strengthens corporate identity
The technology industry is often disruptive and chaotic. In a world where things are constantly changing and evolving, full of noises and uncertainty, our core values will always guide our decisions, actions and growth aspirations.

Values shape our identity, act as a unique differentiator that sets us apart from our competitors, and guide how we interact with those around us. Our values will be used to impart the ethos of our company to our Automaker and Dealership partners; informing them about who we are, what the company stands for, and what they can expect from us; our DNA!

values-image

When an organisation is rapidly growing and expanding, it can be easy to lose sight of their unique identity. Core values can be used to ensure that there is no brand dilution. Being a global company with multiple offices around the world, it’s essential for us to have consistent core values, to help unite us all and remind us about the standards that we hold – irrespective of geographic location or language.

This drive for consistency in brand and values also aligns with our Automaker partners who are actively pursuing the ‘One World’ ethos for their brands.

It inspires us to be better
Having corporate values is just as important as setting corporate goals. It aligns and moulds the overall behaviour of how our staff think, behave and work. If your staff don’t know what the company goals are, how do they achieve them? Similarly, if they don’t know what the company values are, how will they behave and conduct themselves?

Core values can be a great source of motivation in the office. When we truly believe in something, we spark the interest of those around us, and inspire everyone to work together to achieve shared goals.

driving-innovationFor example, one of our core values is ‘Driving innovation & service’. This empowers and inspires everyone in the Infomedia team to push their creativity limits. We encourage staff to be open-minded and to think differently, and they are constantly striving to build cutting-edge software that empowers our customers.

It shapes the organisational culture and environment
Values are the heart of our culture at Infomedia; it has a strong influence on our culture, sets the tone of the office environment and influences the work that we produce. Here at Infomedia, we have designed our offices and working space to reflect and foster our values.

fast-laneOne of our core values is ‘Having fun in the fast lane’. Our new Sydney office has a fun and vibrant campus type environment that welcomes and inspires people. By providing an open and conducive work environment, we are happier, we produce better work, and we flourish as both professionals and individuals.

How we expand the Infomedia family
Our care values guide our decisions on recruiting new hires, developing our people, recognising and rewarding success.

We select candidates who are not just skillful and talented, but the best suited for the organisation’s corporate culture. When hiring new staff, we look at candidates who are aligned with our company values. You can always train skills, but it may be challenging to work with someone who doesn’t share the same values.

It strengthens the organisation
Having a set of shared values, beliefs and mindset helps to grow and create a strong organisation. Collaboration and team work builds a strong organisation, and having shared values empowers individuals and teams to innovate in the way they collaborate.As a business, we can only succeed when everyone is on board and aligned in our thinking – that is what gives us the edge and makes us stronger, at all levels of the organisation.

We have found that values can be very powerful and have a huge, positive impact on our organisation as a whole. We embed and embody our core values globally, and they are part of our growth DNA. Infomedia wouldn’t be what it is today, without it.

It is Better to do it The Hard Way

tufekciIn an echo of Malcolm Gladwell’s 2010 “the revolution will not be tweeted”, techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci unveiled at TEDGlobal 2014 in Rio de Janeiro last week her thesis that when it comes to using social media to affect lasting change, achievements are not proportional to the energy they inspire. This is a lesson entrepreneurs ignore at their peril.

Zeynep Tufekci is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina and opened Session 2 at this year’s TED Global in Brazil. Session 2 set out to explore the dichotomy between the opportunities that technology offers us, such as affecting social change; and its dangers, such as how it compromises our privacy.

While many pointed to the Arab Spring as proof that Gladwell was wrong, Tufekci brought a different lens of reality to the belief that social media can topple governments. Just because it is “easier to mobilise does not mean it is easier to get outcomes,” she said. To illustrate her point, while alluding to the Arab Spring and set against the backdrop of the withering efforts in Hong Kong today, Tufekci pointed to the Occupy Movement which she said has not delivered on any of its promises despite its worldwide appeal.

This isn’t to say that these viral movements are not valid. The lesson of the Arab Spring uprisings during 2011 was that while the censored media was impotent amid government atrocities, Social Media was able to blow the lid on it. While “editors sat in their newsrooms and waited for the government to tell them what to do,” activists in Iran, Egypt and Libya were able to use Social Media to collect images of police brutality and violence and get them out to the world’s media via Facebook and Instagram with the use of just a mobile phone. Organisers could mobilise many thousands of demonstrators at just the click of a Tweet-button. The role of modern technology in these historic phenomena should not be under-estimated, but as the rapid dispersion of crowds in Hong Kong this week proves, “all these good intentions and bravery and sacrifice by themselves are not going to be enough” says Tufekci.

By way of contrast, she looked back at the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s in the US. Following the arrest of Rosa Parks in Alabama in 1955, supporters mimeographed 52,000 leaflets and distributed them by hand – an effort unfathomable today given our powerful social media technologies, let alone the far more prolific printing technologies available to everyone. While a gargantuan effort, the key lesson Tufekci highlighted was that the activists met face-to-face and bonded. “They created the kind of organization that could think together, create consensus, innovate, keep going together through differences.”

And here is the punchline: “Are we overlooking some of the benefits of doing things the hard way?” she asks.

What does this mean for entrepreneurs and startups looking to quickly create growth to attract investors. Tufekci’s lesson is beautiful in its simplicity: “todays movements feel like startups that get very big quickly”.

Essentially the ability to create the appearance of scale at great speed using powerful communication techniques can be deceptive. Unless startups are able to create sustainability beneath that, they have essentially taken the easy road to what looks and feels like success but ultimately is not enduring and can quickly dwindle. The ‘hard yakka’ of Rosa Parks’ supporters bonded them tightly in an endeavour to which they became deeply dedicated.

The experience of Groupon perhaps exemplifies Tufekci’s message. In 2011 the darling of the group-buying revolution declined a USD$6 Billion acquisition offer from Google before its IPO debut at USD$20. Today, its share price is just USD $6 and its market capitalisation is USD$2 billion less than the Google offer its now much-maligned CEO Andrew Mason snubbed. Most commentators agree Groupon’s mistake was to focus on rapid new customer acquisition rather than sustainable customer retention. In building a lasting business – just as with affecting permanent social change – it is important to take the long view. The apparent might of social media to collect a huge audience can be a dangerous mirage. As Tufecki warns: “the way technology empowers social movements can paradoxically weaken them.”

“We’re working in Dog Years”

smartcompanysquare-useI spoke with Smartcompany Magazine recently about my business, how I grew it to be Australia’s largest Oracle consulting practice. It was a useful opportunity to reflect on what I’ve learnt along the way. You can read the whole article here but I thought I’d pull out and highlight some of the key points:

  • From a leadership perspective, I think the style of carrot and stick doesn’t work anymore.
  • You need three things to motivate people: autonomy, mastery and purpose. People need to feel autonomous, they need to master a skill capability or technology and they need to feel a personal purpose that is aligned to the organisation’s.
  • If people are motivated, they do incredible things.
  • A business has a responsibility to its shareholders to make money, but in making money, other stakeholders might also benefit. I can make money and improve the world I live in, or I can take it a step further and also make it a nice environment for all stakeholders.
  • We have to think about the ripple effect. We live in a world of finite resources and destroying those resources to become more profitable is not necessarily a good thing.
  • It’s much faster to release a minimally viable product, test it and then refine it until it works. Timelines have changed. Twenty years ago you may have spent a year looking at strategy and execution, but in that time you haven’t done any testing. We no longer have that luxury. We’re working in dog years, six or seven times faster.

Time to reclaim our privacy?

I was very pleased to have one of my posts from the recent TEDGlobal I attended in Rio de Janeiro published in Business Review Weekly – Australia’s most prestigious business magazine. You can read the edited version here on their site but I’ve pasted the full version  below…

As the internet turns 25 we have mostly lost the idea of privacy itself.”

Is privacy dead? Andy Yen strongly believes it isn’t and with a new email platform he co-founded last year called Protonmail, he hopes to turn the tables on how government, industry and society generally think about privacy and secrecy. Speaking at TEDGlobal in Rio de Janeiro this week, his radical new concept of how to protect our privacy has important ramifications for consumers, businesses and security agencies alike.

andy yenAndy Yen isn’t a technology developer by trade, but a particle physicist (hence the name) at (CERN European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland. But as the full implications of the Snowden revelations became clear, he and his colleagues became concerned at the way that people’s privacy had become a commodity no longer respected by organisations, particularly intelligence agencies or online advertisers. Our personal email, secrets, intimate thoughts or intellectual property were being traded in the open market without our consent.

“We have largely lost control of  our data and privacy.”

So along with colleagues working in the CERN canteen, Yen developed Protonmail, a unique mail service that encrypts your email at the browser level, rather than at the server level. This is important because it means that Protonmail has no access to your account or mail. This not only locks out Protonmail staff themselves, but everyone else from government agencies to hackers or industrial spies.

The service has clearly hit a raw nerve, with over 250,000 users so far, and more than USD$500,000 in crowd sourced funding from Idiegogo – a record for a software project.

But the service is of course controversial. PayPal quietly froze Protonmail’s account when they became concerned that the company didn’t have permission to encrypt users’ emails. Set against a sensitive security climate where the Australian Attorney General is seeking additional powers for ASIO and concern rises about the way that companies like Google and Facebook access users’ content for advertising purposes; the service will continue to polarise. However at the heart of it all lie the questions: what is privacy, what responsibilities do businesses and governments have to protect it and why should we give it up now that technology exists to protect it? Yen’s Protonmail has certainly put the cat amongst the privacy debate pigeons.

 

TED: Davos for Optimists

Hello, my name is Jonathan Rubinsztein and I am a TEDdict. A TEDaholic. A TED junkie. But I suspect I will never be cured, and don’t want to be.

TEDLike any dependence, I crave the high I receive from TED conferences. As I sit on the plane to Rio for my 6th conference in as many years, I mind drifts back to my first. Unlike many addictions, the high I receive from each hit is as good as that first one.  Also, unlike most dependencies, the elation I derive from the profound insight, inspiration and – most importantly – ideas is worth every penny I spend… I have no regrets.

For those who have never been to a TED conference, I hope to share with you some of the experience. Most of you would be familiar with the TED videos on you Tube – there have been more than a billion views – and almost everyone who has must have been touched in some meaningful way by a TED idea. For me, for instance, this video by simon simek profoundly changed the way I view my own business. And yes, that is an important point. I am a managing director of a multi-million dollar IT consultancy employing hundreds of people across Asia and I have no problem prioritising 5 days in Brazil for this conference. The value I can contribute back to my business as a result will be immeasurable in terms of return on investment.

Imagine a fully packed schedule from early in the morning to late at night with 22 minute presentations crammed into the every space of the day. Music, performance, conversation, food and incredible conversations that constantly pushing and stretching the status quo and challenging your world view. The presenters and audience are both as fascinating as each other and you’re immersed in this pool of amazing, talented, interesting, people having dinner, lunch and breakfast with you; interacting, discussing the previous presentation or insane event. After five days of such creative binging I usually come back exhausted and yet exhilarated; with enough intellectual and emotional fuel to last me  months. It takes even longer to fully digest or integrate the insights and ideas

Why not just watch it on You Tube? Because the real benefit of the experience is as much about the audience as the speakers. While the calibre of speakers  extends to such luminaries as as Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Malcolm Gladwell,Al Gore, Gordon Brown, Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates, Bono, Mike Rowe, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and many Nobel Prize winners – they also make up the audience!. It is the discussions after the presentations that are as valuable as the presentations themselves. To only watch the presentations on You Tube is as deficient as watching a concert on mute. For instance, one of my more lasting memories is a thoroughly scintillating business discussion with Jeff Bezos in LA that helped to revolutionise my business. I cannot think of another event that could afford me that kind of access to brilliance.

I have often heard TED described as Davos for optimists, and although the tagline is “ideas worth spreading” this is often much more than ideas and it really is about the people who are changing the world for the better. Throughout the coming week I will try to download some of that experience here. I hope you can join me and maybe even become fellow addicts yourselves!

UXC Red Rock heading north!

We made a very important announcement this month marking a huge step forward in our expansion into Asia. We were to close a deal to acquire asset-lifecycle management player Convergence Team Ltd. Visit the press release on our web site for the details: http://www.uxcredrock.com/news-events/red-rock-in-the-news/878-uxc-red-rock-consulting-announces-acquisition-of-convergence-team

fran-foo-thumbnailBut on the basis of the deal I spoke to one of Australia’s leading IT journalists – Fran Foo, Deputy Editor at The IT section of The Australian newspaper about our plans, and here is the coverage we received as a result:

UXC Red Rock to expand in Asia

ORACLE software specialist UXC Red Rock has acquired asset life cycle management provider Convergence Team as it seeks to further expand into the Southeast Asian market.

UXC Red Rock will absorb about 30 staff from Convergence Team to add to its 600 staff in 11 offices in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and India.

Brisbane-based Convergence Team will be folded into UXC Red Rock’s consulting practice and led by asset life cycle management industry director Stuart MacDonald.

UXC Red Rock CEO Jonathan Rubinsztein declined to reveal financial arrangements but said the company had been working with Convergence on a project two years before the ­acquisition on a few projects in Asia-Pacific.

“It’s (the acquisition) a good opportunity for more growth in Southeast Asia … it will allow us to grow in asset-intensive industries,” Mr Rubinsztein said.

He said the deal would extend the group’s capability to cover more Oracle applications. UXC Red Rock is the software giant’s largest partner in Australia.

It will also help UXC Red Rock make further inroads into engineering, construction, mining and utilities markets, he said.

UXC Red Rock is a subsidiary of ASX-listed UXC and counts Blackmores, Coca-Cola Bottling, Indonesia, Corporate Express, Wotif, Heinz Australia, Lion Nathan, Australian Vintage, Bis Industries, Engineers Australia, SEQ Water Grid Manager and New Zealand fertiliser co-operative Ravensdown as customers.

Convergence Team has clients across a range of industries such as chemicals, ­financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality, power and energy, and oil and gas.

They include ExxonMobil Chemicals, Shell Chemicals, Unilever, GE Wind, Veolia Water, Constellation Energy, Keppel Energy, Western Container Corp, SingHealth, Singapore Land Authority, UOB Bank, Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands.

Solution providers for Oracle rival SAP are also experiencing consolidation. For instance, Victorian IT services company Viatek earlier this year acquired CN Group, an SAP consulting specialist in Sydney.