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Reengineering the Customer Experience to Be as Luxurious as a Sports Car

Feature Article | September 27, 2017 by Celia Brown

How can an automotive startup simplify cloud engagement to engineer the highest-quality vehicles and customer satisfaction?


Hyperconnectivity and digitalization are influencing automakers and transforming the industry. For Karma Automotive, this offers an opportunity to build a state-of-the-art foundation for competitive growth.

Many affordable, mid-priced electric vehicles are available – but most of these competitors aren’t going after top-tier customers. Karma focuses on these passionate drivers.

Though the design is stunning, the driving experience pure luxury, and the gas-solar hybrid technology radically advanced, the emerging company knew it had to do more to disrupt the establishment.

Karma introduced the first plant in U.S. history that is small enough to manufacture vehicles cost-effectively – at almost one-tenth of average production volume – by imitating a mini-plant business model developed by European luxury automakers. Meanwhile, it grew from 20 employees to 900 in three years – challenging its ability to respond quickly and effectively to changing conditions.


“The auto industry is never static and can change instantly. It’s important for us to keep pace or, better yet, stay at the forefront of this evolution.”

– Jim Taylor, Chief Revenue Officer, Karma Automotive


 

Trading in Old-School Technology

To support Karma’s explosive growth, having the right technology to connect every part of the business is essential. Its employees must make crucial decisions each day. One wrong move has potential for massive impact.

“In essence, you have two choices: You decide, or you die,” says Jim Taylor, chief revenue officer of Karma Automotive. “Every employee, regardless of role and seniority, has experiences that can help us look at a situation, make a decision in the moment, and move forward.”

 

Karma Automotive

Karma also needed a platform to help secure 100% customer satisfaction throughout the buying and driving experience.

Karma’s cars are rolling computers – their software generates mountains of data to monitor car performance, outstanding service needs, emerging risks, and driver behavior. Karma wanted to consolidate this data in one place for near-real time processing and analysis – empowering employees to expertly address customer concerns.


“Ultimately, our success comes down to our customers. They will remain loyal if we deliver convenient interactions, a great driving experience, and ease of ownership.”

– Jim Taylor


Consolidating Real-Time Data

Karma was open to connecting every aspect of its business in the cloud – including cars, customer interactions, vehicle inspections, and maintenance issues.

Karma first deployed a digital core and later added a mix of cloud solutions to serve current and potential customers. It integrated a standardized, engaging user experience to grant employees access to real-time information, anytime, anywhere. Karma adopted cloud-based commerce solutions and then a cloud platform for a seamless customer experience.

But perhaps the most rewarding outcome of this digital transformation is hearing customers and dealers say the platform is one of the best they ever used.

“Our dealer network and customers are very discerning. So, when we received their feedback, we were excited to hear that they felt that it is easy to do business with us,” mentioned Mikael Elley, Karma’s VP and CIO.

Creating an Industry-Disruptive Foundation

Karma Automotive built its cloud foundation with SAP S/4HANA at the core. This initial implementation served as the central hub for connecting cloud-based line-of-business solutions such as SAP Hybris Commerce and SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer solutions running on SAP Cloud Platform, and taking advantage of the intuitive user experience delivered by SAP Fiori.

“From customer engagement to order fulfillment to customer care, every single operational unit is using this platform. We started with the standard best practices that came with SAP S/4HANA, explored which capabilities worked for us, and tweaked areas that did not. Approximately 90% of our processes are out of the box,” recollected Elley.

Now Karma Automotive maintains a single version of the truth across finance, sales, purchasing, manufacturing, quality, supplier quality, and engineering.

 

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