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CASE STUDY - Delivering Value of Half a Billion Dollars Annually

Auto giant builds comprehensive customer view, resulting in increased auto sales, improved customer experience, and reduced costs
By Bob Hartline, CDI Marketing, Acxiom Corporation

The Opportunity
One of the world’s largest automakers manufactures cars and trucks in 34 countries, employs more than 240,000 people, and sells and services vehicles in some 140 countries. This company sold approximately 8.35 million cars and trucks in 2008.

Building upon those numbers, the company’s goal was to sell even more vehicles and service in the years to come by influencing buying behavior. There are many factors that go into a car purchase decision, making it a challenge to effectively market to the consumer. Factors include unpredictable gas prices; finding a car company that’s innovative and in tune with the customer’s needs; finding a reliable, safe, and quality product at an affordable price; and whether to go with a foreign or domestic brand.

If that wasn’t daunting enough, the company also realized that when a consumer buys a vehicle, that information goes into one database. That’s what should be expected, right? But if that same consumer also signs up for the in-vehicle communications and diagnostics system, his or her information goes into another database. What if the consumer finances the purchase through the auto manufacturer’s financial arm? You guessed it—that consumer’s information goes into yet another database.

It’s no wonder with a footprint so large that the auto giant was having a hard time keeping up with its customers. Its data was not integrated across divisions, which resulted in an inaccurate and incomplete view of customers and prospects. Also, its data hygiene efforts were not coordinated throughout the company, causing duplicated efforts and slow response times.

Sometimes the company would even forgo entire marketing campaigns. Executing a campaign to all new car buyers subscribed to the in-vehicle communications system without knowing who they are and what other relationships they have with the auto manufacturer could negatively affect customer satisfaction.

The company needed a solution that would enable it to clean, integrate, and manage customer and prospect information across multiple divisions in a central repository. The solution must also marry that information with product and service relationship data to:

  1. Improve automotive consumer intelligence and customer lifecycle contact optimization to increase the company’s ability to sell more vehicles
  2. Improve marketing effectiveness and targeting through dynamic messaging and personalization
  3. Respond faster and more accuratelyt o changing market conditions through improved consumer targeting
  4. Reduce costs related to duplicate data, poor customer interactions, and inefficient marketing efforts
The Solution

The automotive manufacturer chose Acxiom to create a data quality and customer recognition management solution to manage the data that moves in and out of its data warehouse. The solution had to meet the current pressing need, be able to grow with its marketing capabilities, and support its future hub applications to confidently recognize customer data company wide.

Acxiom’s arsenal in the area of data quality and customer recognition management was perfect for the challenge. Acxiom Data Quality delivers the highest level of accuracy in the industry, thanks to the Acxiom knowledgebase and AbiliTec. Acxiom is able to clean and enrich data to a level exceeding the USPS.

This lift translated into additional revenue and cost savings for the automotive company’s marketing organization. Combining the clean data with AbiliTec—Acxiom’s patented linking technology—provided an accurate and persistent link for the recognition of individuals within and across the client’s comprehensive data infrastructure. Unlike traditional software-based matching that sorts and groups similar records within a geography and attempts to match prospective records together, AbiliTec uses exclusive matching algorithms to apply consistent consumer and address links, regardless of name changes, moves, nicknames, or name variations.

The power and performance of Acxiom DataQuality and AbiliTec is made possible by the Acxiom knowledge base of consumer information that has been compiled more than 35 years. The Acxiom knowledge base includes more than two billion historical occupancies, hundreds of sources, up to 20 years of history on an individual, reliable and time-tested matching algorithms based on more than 40 years of experience, contact data (name, address), associative data (date of birth, gender, phone number), and internal metadata.

The final piece of the puzzle was a robust customer recognition management capability that could link and group customer and prospect information from disparate records to recognize the individual across many different divisions based on company-specific data, business record–matching rules, and AbiliTec. On top of the linking and grouping, a consolidated view of each consumer and his or her relationship to the company needed to be maintained over time. AbiliTec was able to ensure the company stayed relevant to customers, which is key to success in today’s customer-centric marketing environment.

To get the auto manufacturer the solution it wanted, Acxiom first needed a handle on its disparate data sources. Data was previously consolidated from multiple automotive divisions, but was not as usable as it should be. Its affiliate partners and financing company provided data, and data was also captured from its service and parts organization. The company could now track the lifecycle of a customer across its massive database, even down to the granular dealership level. To preserve its prior investments, Acxiom carefully leveraged the company’s existing customer data repositories, creating a smooth transition and minimizing potential disruption to the infrastructure that was already in place.

In addition to tracking customers and compiling collective information into one database, the auto giant also needed to be aware of actual vehicle owner data. When vehicles are sold from one person to another or purchased at an auction, it’s easy to lose sight of the vehicle owner. Acxiom and R.L. Polk & Co., a provider of automotive information, worked together to accurately track the vehicle ownership of all vehicles after they leave the lot. This provided the automotive company the ability to correctly estimate its car park and precisely target its marketing efforts for extended warranty and maintenance programs, as well as new purchase offers. With Acxiom’s data hygiene and postal services, this auto manufacturer quickly reestablished contact with key customers, reduced print and postage costs, and improved overall deliverability of campaigns.

The Benefits

Acxiom helped breathe new life into the auto company’s marketing campaigns, cultivating its most current prospects. Measurable business benefits include:

  • Increase in sales of more than 90,000 vehicles and $36 million in seasonal car-care programs
  • An $18.6 million reduction in operational costs and savings
  • A savings of $1.2 million annually in returned and “spoiled” mail through address hygiene
  • Efficient and strategic marketing efforts targeted at distinct types of customers at specific points in the customer’s lifecycle, achieving a 99.9 percent campaign quality and on-time performance
  • An expanding outreach program to customers who were lost due to over suppression of customer files

Acxiom built a strategic, long-standing relationship with the automotive manufacturer. Throughout the years, Acxiom has helped the auto giant clean, integrate, and maintain its customer data, which in turn has allowed the company to recognize its customers and improve overall customer service. The results speak for themselves: 8.35 million vehicles sold globally in 2008 with $506 million in sales profit attainment and $18.6 million in cost reductions and savings.

For a free white paper on this topic, click here and choose the title “'Excuse Me, Have We Met Before?' How Knowledge-Based Customer Recognition Helps You Really Know Your Customers.”

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