Even better service for people who bought a used car from K-Auto
The global car industry is currently undergoing a major transformation, and fundamental changes, such as the electrification of motoring, are also reflected in the industry professionals in Finland. Master's students Sebastian Äikäs and Jasmin Jutila from the Aalto University School of Business carried out an extensive study for K-Auto. The customised project focused on a target group identified by K-Auto as important: periodic maintenance service decisions made by owners of pre-owned cars between 4 and 10 years old. The goal of the project was defined as increasing the target group customer understanding and creating new marketing and service concepts.
The students conducted an extensive customer survey consisting of a quantitative questionnaire survey and qualitative in-depth interviews. The study target group included customers of both brand service and other service providers, making it possible to create an even deeper understanding of the target group. The study confirmed presupposed attitudes and opinions among customers, but it also identified new customer needs that K-Auto previously had not been able to fully meet. ‘Providing a more individual service to certain customers plays a key role in our business, and the students were able to identify and storify these customer profiles,’ noted Mikko Luoma, the Head of Marketing, After Sales and K-Auto Services.
As the final output of the project, the students created several customer-orientated conceptual ideas: concrete suggestions for improvement with potential impact on the K-Auto business operations. One of the new conceptual ideas was establishing different levels of service to the selection of authorised brand services, which would enable more versatile a service for different customer groups. ‘The conceptual ideas created by the students were well justified to meet the needs of different customer profiles, while also very specific and well-presented. From the very beginning of the project, Jasmin and Sebastian were exceptionally quick to grasp our business challenge and were thus able to effectively lead the project towards the objectives set for it,’ Luoma says.
Customer orientation at the centre of the project
The project team’s choice to carry out a two-part customer survey proved to be invaluable for the project outcome.
‘Usually, similar projects only have time for a single data collection round, but the students made rapid progress from the start and managed to include both qualitative in-depth interviews and quantitative questionnaire data in the project. The students were brilliant in analysing and combining the data,’ praise Doctoral Researcher Laura Rosenberg, the project’s academic supervisor from the School of Business. The extensive survey carried out in the first half of the project received over 400 responses and immensely increased customer understanding, thus enabling the identification of different customer profiles. These customer profiles were used as the basis for the new marketing and service concepts to ensure their customer orientation.
The students identified several clearly different customer profiles that K-Auto should acknowledge better in its future business operations. Some shared needs that are independent of customer profiles were also identified. ‘Bolstering customer trust and the importance of transparent communication were emphasised by all interviewees,’ Jasmin Jutila describes.
The service concepts prepared in the project particularly emphasised customer orientation and the meeting the customers’ individual needs. ‘With the digitalisation of services, investing in a high-quality customer experience and enabling an individual service experience become increasingly important,’ Sebastian Äikäs adds.
Mikko Luoma from K-Auto applauds the students’ concepts as fresh, bold, and concrete. The concepts were also highly compatible with K-Auto’s current strategy and in line with the company’s wishes. ‘The concepts were very concrete, and their detailed evaluation and prioritisation are already under way. This is to ensure that the findings in this project are not just a PowerPoint exercise, but truly become a part of our business development,’ Luoma says.
The project team emphasises that leading a research project from plans to practice was an invaluable experience for the future. ‘We managed our work ourselves, and the project required both overall understanding and creativity. The best thing was that we could create real value for K-Auto’s business,’ Sebastian Äikäs concludes.