Guest Blog from Joseph Michelli, author of Driven to Delight.
When it comes to innovation, marketing genius, and overall brand strength, few companies compare to Mercedes-Benz.
HOWEVER, in 2011, prospective Mercedes-Benz buyers and vehicle owners were all too frequently having dealership experiences that were in need of overhaul!
Most world-class customer experience brands (Zappos, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Starbucks, etc.) started with service excellence at their core. Mercedes-Benz, however, was built on exceptional products.
In the United States in 2011, there was a shift in priorities by a new leadership team. These leaders set a course to not only be the best customer experience provider in the automotive sector but also to deliver the best customer experience globally.
Through consistent efforts since 2011, Mercedes-Benz has improved their performance among luxury automotive brands on the J.D. Power Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) moving to 1st place, while also achieving back-to-back victories in the automotive sector on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). On the ACSI, Mercedes-Benz achieves scores which are consistent with those attained by brands who are perennially viewed as customer experience leaders.
Rather than listing other forms of recognition for the Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) customer experience transformation, lets look at how MBUSA leaders moved people, processes, and technology in customer-centric ways at corporate headquarters and across their 370 plus dealer partner network.
Among other efforts, leaders at MBUSA:
- Created a compelling vision of change urgency
- Visually depicted a multi-year plan for culture transformation
- Defined and trained on the optimal customer experience
- Encouraged dealers to measure employee engagement and develop action plans to increase it
- Required attendance at an experiential brand immersion program
- Developed leadership training programs for dealership owners and managers
- Mapped the journeys of prospective customers through their purchase and post-sale interactions
- Established measurement tools to solicit customer feedback concerning important transactions and levels of emotional engagement
- Reviewed all processes from the customer’s perspective
- Developed programs to reduce customer effort, remove pain points, and expedite the speed of service delivery
- Established “rapid response” teams to enhance product launches and immediately resolve emerging customer issues
- Leveraged online and mobile tools to enhance the customer experience at all phases of the customer journey
- Increased use of tablet technology and self-service tools to create customer service options
- Integrated technology solutions to address complex processes such as service scheduling, status updates, provision of courtesy vehicles, and efficient check-out
Mercedes-Benz USA leaders refer to their customer experience transformation agenda as “Driven to Delight” which happens to also be the title of my book detailing specifics on how businesses of all sizes can benefit from the Mercedes-Benz approach to experience excellence.
Mercedes-Benz, with its extraordinary products and marketing resources, felt the need to improve the experience of its customers. Isn’t it time for you to do the same?
Today, product excellence and even consistent service is not enough to secure loyalty. Customers, instead, want companies that are Driven to Delight!
Joseph A. Michelli is an internationally sought-after speaker, author, and organizational consultant. His books include The Starbucks Experience, The New Gold Standard, The Zappos Experience, Leading the Starbucks Way, and Prescription for Excellence, which hit #1 on The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller lists.