Have you seen Honda’s recent television commercial for the Accord? A dad in his 30s notices a drop of water on his shiny new Accord. He wipes it up by sitting his toddler on the hood, using the child’s diaper as a sponge. That image astutely captures the fanaticism of the average Accord buyer.
Knowing how passionate its customers are about their automobiles, American Honda Motor Co. of Torrance, Calif., last fall launched a website called Owner Link (www.ahm-ownerlink.com). The site provides registered customers (currently numbered at 140,000) with personalized service schedules, maintenance tips, and model and warranty information. The goal of the site, says Suzan Fairchild, senior e-business project manager at American Honda, is to encourage Honda and Acura owners to keep buying those brands by simplifying ownership.
Developing the website, which piloted after three months, was no easy task. Fairchild says the biggest challenge was integrating databases and accommodating the processes of American Honda and its 1,275 Honda and Acura dealers. Owner Link was designed to feed off the databases beneath American Honda’s other websites. The company used XML to create links between the various sites, according to Pete Moran, managing director of Genex, a Los Angeles-based Internet development company that helped build Owner Link.
Accommodating the different business processes was equally tricky. “We had to consider the process dealers have for selling cars, the variations in that process from dealer to dealer, and where in the process of presenting a vehicle to a potential customer does it make sense to have the dealer talk about Owner Link,” says Fairchild. “We have provided one online focal point that the customer can engage with to tap into our databases and get information from Honda about their cars.”