The Journey to Customer Experience
The automotive industry is one of the largest and most competitive industries in the world. From the traditional, everyday family car to the limited-edition super cars now available, customers can spend anything from £5,000 to £1,000,000 in a single purchase.
This makes it critical for customers to receive an excellent customer experience from the moment they show interest in a new vehicle straight through the ownership period and when they look to repurchase. There are many decision points and touchpoints in the customer journey (regardless of purchasing a product or service) that can have a positive or negative effect on the customer experience with an organisation.
In this paper you’ll read about a 10-year partnership Percepta has enjoyed with two premium car manufacturers by managing customer touchpoints that support interactions with end users, dealers, automotive suppliers, court officials, media, and regulatory bodies.
In doing this, a cohesive image of the manufacturers is presented across all interaction points.
How did it start?
The client managed contact centres and executive offices for both brands internally. These centres were volume-based with no measurable service levels in place. Customer satisfaction levels were measured but not linked back to process improvements that would increase customer retention.
Due to this, the client needed an external provider with whom to partner that possessed the expertise and skills required to drive change in the organisation through customer service.
Percepta was recognised as the ideal partner due to our knowledge of customer experience and expertise in delivering it within the automotive industry. The partnership started in 2000 by taking over the management of both contact centres and executive offices.
The Percepta Approach
There were two key initiatives to implement straightaway — designing a programme that would assist the client in meeting their business objectives and confirming operational service level agreements (SLAs).
Percepta then evaluated how contacts came into the centre, what response was required from them, if there were any immediate areas for improvement, and that the correct departmental structure was in place.
Knowing the client’s goals, we designed a programme that would assist in achieving them. SLAs were put in place to ensure the operation had set standards and targets to achieve with each of their customer contacts.
These exercises are fundamental for any centre to effectively manage customer contact, but alone, will not provide a customer experience — just an operational contact centre.
Once both exercises were complete and a process put in place to work towards their achievement, the road to customer experience management began.
With set standards in place and consistently achieved, the implementation of Percepta’s case management model began. A dedicated customer service advisor would now handle each concern from initial contact through to case closure, providing the customer with one point of contact throughout the duration of his/her query or concern.
This immediately builds rapport, eliminating the feeling of a typical contact centre in which customers need to speak with numerous people and explain the nature of their concern each time. The case manager will agree to a preferred method and time of contact with the customer for any future communication and handle all other contact with third parties such as dealers, technical departments, and parts suppliers, meaning the customer deals with the same person at all times.
Upon the closure of each case, customers receive a satisfaction survey (scaled 1-10, 10 being completely satisfied) relating to the handling of their case. This gathers information on their satisfaction with the CRC and the dealership in terms of helpfulness, knowledge, competence, attitude, courtesy, frequency of follow-up, how likely they are to refer friends and family, and how likely they are to purchase their next vehicle from the manufacturer.
This data is collated by an independent organisation and results are sent to Percepta’s business intelligence analyst. Deep dive analysis is undertaken to gather information on the main reasons behind each of the scores, providing detailed information on any areas of dissatisfaction, i.e., are they dissatisfied with the CRC, dealer, a parts delay, and so on.
Each customer service advisor has a personalised scorecard with satisfaction targets to meet each month, averaged out by the number of cases handled. Through the case management model and data analytics, each advisor’s score is calculated, showing the advisor’s personal contribution towards client and customer satisfaction and aims to illustrate to them, their personal involvement in the success of the client’s objectives.
Due to the nature of our client’s business and the number of third parties involved in dealing with customers, Percepta implemented a number of proactive communication techniques that would further assist customers in contacting the CRC for any future concerns, assistance with breakdowns, hire car management, and instances of vehicle changes.
Welcome to Brand:
Dealers provide the CRC with new customer data and after two weeks of their purchase, they receive a call from an advisor welcoming them as a new customer and to provide them with their direct contact details for future queries/concerns. This also allows the advisor to gather initial feedback on their experience to date and manage any immediate concerns they may have. This adds a personal touch and builds an immediate rapport with the customer by providing them with their own Account Manager. It has proven very successful with satisfaction levels being consistently higher with customers who take full advantage of the service.
Car Hire & Parts Specialists:
This team of logistical support specialists is dedicated to assisting all customers who require a hire car following a vehicle breakdown or unexpected fault. They manage the process between dealers, technical departments and parts suppliers to ensure the customer is back in their own car as soon as possible, minimising the inconvenience to the customer and vehicle off road (VOR) days for the client.
Assisted Vehicle Change:
A resource that specialises in customer cases of possible vehicle change, either where the customer has experienced a serious problem or a continual series of problems with their vehicle. Working with the dealer, the customer may either receive a new car free of charge, or pay a contribution (depending on warranty terms) towards another model.
The customer loyalty programme also consists of a team dedicated to evaluating customer opinion from any surveying exercise conducted by the client and/or dealers. Any customers who score or comment negatively are contacted proactively to discuss their issue and find a suitable resolution to increase their satisfaction level, with the intention of turning possible brand retractors into advocates.
This element of Percepta’s service offering is key to providing a seamless customer experience by having dedicated analysts. Every part of the programme can show an actual return on the client’s investment.
Additional revenue generation, cost savings in goodwill control, and reducing the average number of VOR days all contribute towards financial return, whilst implementing process improvement initiatives and change programmes provide efficiency returns.
As the partnership has grown and Percepta’s understanding of the client’s business deepened, new ways of reporting on intelligence were generated to show exact reasons behind things like customer complaints, vehicle faults, dealer performance and satisfaction.
These include reporting on VOR days per dealership, reasons and costs involved with vehicle exchanges through the AVC programme, monthly customer satisfaction surveying, bi-annual dealer satisfaction surveying and quarterly regional dealer principal meetings to inform them of what is or isn’t working within their region.
Percepta recommend many improvement programmes through this knowledge, with an example being the creation of a dealer goodwill calculator. Both dealers and the CRC had different authority levels for goodwill requests, with the dealers having to call in to seek approval on higher goodwill gestures. This was an area that dealers felt slightly frustrated with, as it created more time for the customer to wait for a decision from their request and Percepta immediately recognised the need for a better solution. Percepta business analysts created a model for a goodwill calculator, providing the dealers with higher authority levels and decreasing the level of the CRC.
Once presented to the client, an initial pilot with two regions proved that with the higher levels of authority, there was no increase in dealer spending. With less contact into the CRC, further efficiencies also were realised. The calculator has since been launched throughout the UK and amalgamated into the client’s main interface system. It has proven to be very successful with year-on-year savings in goodwill spending, as dealers are more aware of their own budgets. Dealer satisfaction levels have also increased due to their feeling of empowerment to make direct decisions for their customers.
A monthly Quality of Service (QoS) review meeting takes place with the client, using a consolidated business review format to present the findings from business intelligence. This intelligence is widely used within the client’s business and is highly influential in other department’s decision-making processes.
Through the years the value of this information has been recognised by the client in many different business areas and as such, the QoS meetings now take place with day-to-day client representatives as well as Parts, Technical, and Engineering Managers.
By taking a typical contact centre and turning it into a customer relationship centre, Percepta has provided our client with various returns including
- Revenue generation of circa £7 m per year through additional product sales by creating customer advocates;
- Year-on-year cost savings through spend reductions in goodwill, AVC, after warranty management, and average VOR/ day of approximately £10 m;
- Best ever customer satisfaction scores;
- Voted best relationship between dealers and manufacturer in independent Dealer Attitude survey.
Due to the success of the partnership, in late 2009 the client announced that Percepta was chosen as their Partner of Choice for CRCs and throughout 2010 we launched on-site CRCs in Spain, Italy, France and Belgium (we have been operating in Germany since 2003) and are soon launching their China CRC in Shanghai.
The Percepta strategy with the new CRCs is to implement UK best practices and deliver a cohesive treatment of customers throughout mainland Europe and China and to work alongside our client on a global customer service strategy for the future.
For More Information
If you would like to discuss this paper in more detail or contact Percepta to understand how we can help you achieve the same results through customer experience, contact us.