Why premium auto brands need extra focus on CX
The way that cars are bought by consumers has changed dramatically in the past few years. Tesla completely rejected the dealership model and moved closer to retail with online orders and even stores in shopping centres.
Porsche has also embraced shopping centres, designing pop-up stores and then creating temporary stores that arrive and vanish a few months later. Hyundai has been offering ‘Click and buy’ on their entire range for several years now.
It’s all a far cry from the days of wearing out shoe leather heading from one dealership to the next and trying to get the attention of a sales professional.
Companies like Carvana have rejected the used car dealership model and created a service that works more like Amazon. Customers can browse vehicles online, compare performance and other attributes and then order and pay. The customer can visit one of their famous multi-story vending machines to collect their car.
All this innovation is great for the industry and it brings brands closer to the customer, but what about luxury vehicles. What if you are looking for a new luxury car, but you aren’t sure if BMW, Mercedes, or Jaguar is the right one?
Most premium auto brands have struggled with this. Lexus has developed a great reputation for service at their dealerships, but as reported in Autocar, most of the other premium brands “languish down the order of customer satisfaction surveys.”
The Autocar feature actually argues that investing too much in the visual representation of your dealerships can have a negative effect, because customers may feel that their cash is funding smart dealerships, not great products: “It’s time, surely, to draw a finish line, not least as it’s a race that nobody can win. Your average Ford showroom is probably as smart as a BMW one of 10 years ago, ratcheting up the cycle again. We all want to do better, but when dealers are giving off the impression that they’re raking it in, the model is surely broken.”
If you explore what auto consumers want from auto brands then there are a range of issues that cut across the industry - automation, shared vehicles, subscriptions, and connectivity. But the luxury car market is a little different, customers are less likely to be exploring shared vehicles or subscriptions in the luxury sector.
But if “glass palace” dealerships also send out the wrong signal to some customers then how do the auto brands get it right?
The answer is to focus on the customer experience, but not just at the dealership. Think about how your customers learn about the vehicles in the first place. That point at which they first become aware, their first attempt to reach for more information, the first time they schedule a test drive. These are all steps along the road to a purchase and with a luxury brand you need to be even more focused on ensuring that the process is friction-free and simple.
Your dealerships need to be smart, they reflect the value of the brand, but it will be the people in the dealership and on the phone, that really make the difference. Do they have the right knowledge to be able to answer any customer questions?
A premium auto brand can’t afford to build luxurious dealerships and then create a contact centre with people who don’t understand or appreciate the values of the brand. Think carefully about who is interacting with the customer, especially in those early stages when they want questions to be answered. The people answering those phone calls ARE your brand.
For more information on how TTEC is driving digital transformation and omnichannel customer experiences in EMEA, visit www.ttec.com/emea.
Wayne Kay, Head of Partners and Strategic Alliances EMEA at TTEC, is an experienced business leader with 20 years of global, sales, coaching and leadership experience in the contact centre and CX industry. Previous positions include Founder & MD of Fullbrook Consulting, MD of Contact Centres for Cable & Wireless, and International Sales...