Can APIs help drive change that matters?

The average age of a vehicle on the road in the United States is almost 12 years, a trend which has been steadily increasing over the past 20 years.

At the same time, new vehicle prices are outpacing inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index. With elevating prices and cars that more closely resemble entertainment centers, what is the role and value of API data integrations to dealers as we evolve and adjust to these ever-changing markets?

In a Service capacity, where low-frequency, high-value transactions are the norm, dealers are more reliant than ever before on key differentiation of the customer experience they provide. The service loyalty programs being rolled out by vehicle manufacturers are an example of this. These programs aim to reward repeat business for a myriad of services at the dealership if customers stick with the program at participating dealer partners.

Why is customer experience the correct lens?

We can all think of examples that didn’t fare well in times of change. Some products were too early, some were too late, and others didn’t really understand the automotive landscape to the extent needed to improve anything meaningful.

When you provide a better experience to the vehicle owner, in many cases the needs of the OEM, the dealer and the vehicle owner are in alignment in a world where alignment is rare.

Dealerships can provide the most seamless Service experience for the customer. Multiple Service bays, specialized knowledge, better Parts inventory, trusted or guaranteed work — this is a recipe for success.

Many dealers are starting to provide a quick-change experience, edging out the oil and filter shops vying for the wallet of the willing customer. As a profit center for the dealership, the Service department is a worthy target. Last month, AutoNation announced an expansion effort of 20 pre-owned vehicle sales and service centers directed at improving the pre-owned experience and attempting to direct capital toward “opportunities with the greatest return potential.”

What do APIs have to do with it?

Scott Middleton, product development and strategy expert, says to “focus on what your customers are trying to achieve. This means understanding their world, their day and their priorities.” This outside-in approach focused on the customer will often include a strategic technology partner, a new data source or a service layer which coordinates with a workflow inside the dealership like the Appointment, Repair Order or Warranty processes dealers employ today.

APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, provide a common language and structure for software developers to work with to ensure data is flowing in the right direction to the right partners. Dealers are no stranger to the challenges of successful software integration with internal systems and processes governed by various rules and regulations for U.S. operations. To call these systems simple or outdated would miss the mark.

I’ve seen APIs work seamlessly, but…

Technology has the ability to be a great enabler, but technology for its own sake can be an expensive and fruitless expedition. From the development angle, this often means skipping the design step or making assumptions. From the dealer angle, this often means not understanding what new technologies can accomplish and where enhanced internal processes must take over.

Fortellis is an API ecosystem, which helps to expose new parts of the dealer data landscape to innovators with the ability to enhance it. By staying focused on the customer experience we set out to improve, we just might have the ability to succeed.

To see how Fortellis can help your organization, please contact us for a demo.

Authored on Mon, 09/14/2020 - 14:11