How Al-Futtaim Automotive is bolstering customer-first strategy
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Exclusive: Katib Belkhodja on Al-Futtaim Automotive’s customer-first strategy

Exclusive: Katib Belkhodja on Al-Futtaim Automotive’s customer-first strategy

Al-Futtaim Automotive’s director of customer centricity tells us how the group plans to leverage digital ecosystems to create hyper-personalised customer experiences

Al-Futtaim Automotive’s Katib Belkhodja on customer-centric approach

Dubai-based Al-Futtaim Automotive recently appointed Katib Belkhodja as the automotive group’s director of Customer Centricity, a newly established function within the conglomerate’s Centre of Excellence.

Belkhodja will spearhead the development of the group’s customer-focused business strategies, based on the three core pillars of building brand power, enhancing customer experience, and boosting digital sales. Gulf Business caught up with Belkhodja following his appointment.

Al-Futtaim Automotive is one of the biggest motoring conglomerates in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Tell us more about your strategy and growth priorities with this new appointment.  

While Al-Futtaim Automotive has been an automotive industry pioneer and leader for many years, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. We believe we have a bigger responsibility as leaders to foresee the trends and always be future-ready.

The customer-centricity department consolidates major functions such as data, digital product development, marketing, customer relationship management, PR and communications, to guarantee all efforts are focused on delivering customer engagement and personalisation at the highest level.

Our customer-centricity strategies will be architected on the three core pillars of our long-term business growth mission of ‘Building Brand Power, Enhancing Customer Experience, and Boosting Digital Sales’.

These pillars will drive transformation across all touchpoints, physical and digital, from showroom experience to brand content and storytelling, as well as effective management of customer relationships across the company’s full portfolio of automotive products and services. 

How do you plan to keep raising Al-Futtaim Automotive’s profile? What are you most excited about in your new role and what will be areas of focus in the medium term?  

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work across diverse ecosystems within the automotive industry, which includes original equipment manufacturers, major dealerships, and automotive digital platforms. This exposure has helped me gain a deep understanding of industry dynamics and evolving customer engagement.

In a constantly changing digital environment, harnessing the power of new and emerging technologies and innovations will be key to enhancing experiences. To further solidify Al-Futtaim Automotive’s position as a market and mobility leader, I am excited and looking forward to delivering a new digital framework within the company that blends data, marcom, and CRM into one streamlined, intuitive platform called the ‘Digital Customer Ecosystem.’ This ecosystem will enable us to deliver hyper-personalised consumer experiences, ultimately enhancing our business processes and performances.

Another area of focus will be driving the adoption of digital innovations within the showroom and setting new processes in place to generate more insightful customer feedback at all stages, from call centres to digital bookings to the final sale. 

Which digital technologies and innovative trends do you plan to leverage to enhance customer experience and boost digital sales?

As part of our business strategy for the coming years, investing in, and enhancing the customer digital experience is a key focus area.

The digital customer ecosystem is a key initiative in this regard, where we will have a 360-degree view of the customers across all channels and be able to get an in-depth understanding of our customers. All the data and insights collected will enable us to create a fully connected customer experience and personalize our services as well as solutions to each customer’s preferences.

In a breakthrough for the automotive customer journey, we have also seen great success in our e-commerce platforms, most recently with BYD – the world’s leading EV brand that we launched in the UAE in March 2023.

Two models, the BYD ATTO 3 and BYD HAN were launched exclusively online, and we have seen incredible results with customers placing their car orders without even viewing or test-driving the models. Our digital product and infrastructure will continue to see major growth in the coming years, all driven by customer-centric strategies.

Additionally, we are also planning to launch, soon, our first virtual reality offer for customers and to roll out metaverse propositions to support our brands digitally.

How do you envision mobility in the future? To what extent are innovative trends such as mobility-as-a-service and autonomous driving revolutionising the automotive industry? 

It is certainly an exciting time to be in the automotive industry, as we are living through one of the most critical transformative periods in the history of the industry; quickly changing how people view and use transportation.

In these last few years, we have seen mobility-as-a-service, shared, and sustainable mobility growing stronger at an unprecedented pace.

Al-Futtaim Automotive has been at the forefront of these changes, revolutionizing and pioneering the local automotive landscape through multiple new initiatives and solutions, such as Moov by Al-Futtaim and the new Al-Futtaim Electric Mobility Company.

Through both these launches, we are redefining the way people perceive and use mobility; be it moving from car ownership to car users through Moov by Al-Futtaim or accessing a more democratised electric mobility world with a wide range of EVs, excellent financial offerings and a fully functioning ecosystem that includes car charging station Charge2Moov, and EV aftersales experts.

Al-Futtaim Electric Mobility Company is the first-ever e-mobility-focused dealership and a custodian of two leading international EV brands: Polestar, which is committed to producing a truly climate-neutral production car by 2030 through its 0 Project; and BYD, the world’s leading new energy vehicle manufacturer, on a mission to cool the earth by 1°C.

Our strategy has been to select the right partners to cover the diverse requirements of our customers in the market in terms of price point & product capabilities, allowing us to democratize the market and make EVs accessible to all. Again, the customer is at the centre of this ecosystem. We are offering the full end-to-end solution to make EV adoption more seamless and accessible.

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