Sky’s the limit with cloud EPC

The Infomedia team celebrated a very important win recently. We proudly announced that after a global competitive tender, Infomedia was selected to be a technology partner to Nissan Motor Company.

We signed an exclusive agreement with Nissan to supply our Microcat Electronic Parts Catalog software (EPC) to Nissan’s global dealership network.

Nissan’s General Manager of Global Service Engineering, Mr. Shigeru Narita, said: “We are very excited to have selected Infomedia as our partner. We believe that they have the best technology, people and organisation for our global rollout, and we look forward to implementing their EPC throughout our business to drive the business change needed to get us onto a world leading platform.”

We think some of the reasons our customers select Infomedia are:

  • Established global operations – Ability to deliver a localised EPC in 29 languages, to over 180 countries, and provide regional support in 16 languages.
  • Trusted Partner – Simple, all-inclusive business model.
  • Fast, accurate and intuitive EPC – Easy to learn, easy to use EPC.
  • Solution for the entire Parts Supply Chain – Capabilities to extend parts selling beyond the Dealer to Collision and Trade customers.
  • Technology leadership – Industry leading SaaS infrastructure that supports 150,000 users.

In terms of our technology leadership, we have the ability to replace their legacy system with a next-generation cloud-based EPC, with automated data updates and ‘always on’ infrastructure.

Some automakers like Nissan, have established a clear direction for their cloud strategy, backed by a deep understanding that cloud is a powerful enabler for innovation and brand growth. For other automakers, the clock is ticking, as the rate of vehicle technology change increases and customer attitudes towards dealership service evolve.

Cloud-based technology offers automakers and dealerships new capabilities to not only improve employee productivity, but limitless potential to improve customer service and satisfaction.

My view is that new consumer and competitive requirements are creating a perfect storm that will place even more importance for dealerships to adopt cloud applications.

Cloud LinkedIn

Next generation technology – easy, with no fuss

Here at Infomedia, we were the first to have a 100% online, commercially released EPC. So why do we believe in cloud so strongly? Because we can remove the hassle, risk and cost associated with fixed dealership technology.

My philosophy is: systems and processes should only be implemented if they reduce the complexity of a process, reduce cost, and speed things up – and that’s exactly what cloud technology does.

For a busy parts counter at a dealership, removing the need to install, update and manage catalogue data means more time can be spent with the customer. Our Microcat software provides affordable technology with an always on, always up-to-date solution that allows dealerships to focus on business growth.

For automakers, cloud technology empowers hassle-free data updates with self-serve tools that publish parts pricing information in real-time. Our automaker customers tell me this is a very powerful and big competitive advantage for them.

Increasing business agility for the fast-paced world

When I speak with our key OEM customers, I hear a common story: dealerships are under constant pressure from aftermarket competitors. Customer expectations are evolving, and I believe cloud technology and comparable retail experiences are playing a key part in defining those new customer expectations; eBay and Amazon make it so simple!

To customers, fast delivery times are a standard expectation – the sooner the part is delivered to the workshop, the faster the customer can pick up their car. Therefore, ordering the right repair part, the first time, is crucial for a dealership’s parts department. This is where I believe cloud EPCs like Microcat have the advantage. Faster cycle times in this industry means a tangible impact on customer satisfaction and profitability, and cloud technology is the enabler.

With cloud-based applications, users have more business agility and flexibility. This is backed by a study from Harvard Business Review, where 64% of respondents reported that the use of cloud has increased their organization’s agility. Cloud applications mean instant access to information, better customer experience and potential for harnessing actionable insights in real-time.

Flexibility to work anytime, anywhere

Cloud devicesBeing someone who is constantly travelling and on the move, it’s imperative for me to be able to work remotely, as and when I like. All my files, data, information and detail is stored online in the cloud. I don’t need to be tied to a single computer or laptop, and I can switch between multiple devices.

Our cloud applications also bring this freedom of movement to dealership staff – we empower them to go beyond the parts counter and be innovative with their sales strategies. A cloud EPC can easily be used on location by field staff when selling parts to collision and mechanical trade customers.

Exposing the dealership catalogue information to trade customers is also made easy by using cloud applications. Self-service and digital transformation of the sales process can mean a gigantic leap in dealership efficiency, and we are seeing increased interest in our Trade EPCs by OEMs who want to transform their retail parts environment.

Collaboration & insights

Not only do we build great cloud applications, but we are also fearless adopters of cloud technology for our internal organisation. One of the most challenging things about leading a global company is consistency. We might have multiple office locations around the world, but we are ‘One Infomedia’, and the cloud enables us to collaborate seamlessly.

With all data and information being stored centrally, and available 24/7, it’s much easier to communicate, collaborate and draw insights.

I believe collaboration is an area of opportunity for automakers and dealerships. During the past year, I have seen many examples of vehicle and customer data being stored on automaker network silos. However, dealerships will not capitalise on this information until OEMs invest in cloud applications.

Our Microcat EPC platform is designed to scale, and we implement a large volume of local parts information at country level. This not only assists dealerships with more relevant and faster sales transactions, but it also creates potential for OEMs to use analytics via the cloud to monitor and improve supply chain processes.

The cloud and its silver lining

These reasons are precisely why Nissan has chosen to implement our cloud-based Microcat EPC to their global dealership network. With automatic online updates, dealerships will have access to the latest automaker parts data, right at their fingertips, 24/7.

Having easy and instant access to accurate parts information means Parts Managers also have greater insight and control. They are more agile, and are empowered to act on the information and implement actions in a shorter turnaround time. This benefit extends to Nissan’s customers, who will be able to get their car repaired in a timelier manner.

We’re delighted to have Nissan onboard, and we’re confident that our technological innovations will continue to reinvent their parts operations into the future.

Given the significant opportunities presented by cloud technology, I expect more OEMs to adopt cloud-based EPCs to keep up with fundamental shift in user experiences, customer expectations and competitive pressures.

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.