The automotive industry is right next to the airline industry in terms of innovation and keeping up with the pace of technology growth. Surprisingly, both are extremely slow to keep up with the new world when it comes to customer experience. Just last week this tweet popped up in my feed:
This tweet sums it all up. If you ask me, the gate of the future should not have any printer at all. We need to change the way we think about customer experience.A month ago, I was walking home with my husband in New York and we passed through the car dealership part of Manhattan. Look at the 2018 displays today on 11th Avenue! They are pretty much the same, regardless of brand. All have plastic mannequins… I am not sure who is the target of this advertising technique. One thing is certain – nobody born after 1980 will be converted to a customer because of it.
Transforming a Legacy Industry
In the last six months, I am sure we all have at least one friend or acquaintance who has complained about the painful car buying experience. An entire industry emerged in response – companies like Shift and Carvana are the result of the notoriously bad customer experience of buying a car.
Just when I had given up on the car industry, I met the Head of Marketing and Member Services of Book by Cadillac. An innovative way of owning a vehicle, Book by Cadillac is a subscription service for luxury fleet vehicles that members can rent and swap for a month or a week. For $1,500 a month, a concierge delivers a vehicle directly to the member. The car arrives with the member’s favorite radio station tuned in and the seat in position. If the member informs the Cadillac team they are headed out of town for the weekend, they will find a picnic basket in the trunk. Members feel a sense of freedom and convenience. Gone are the daily worries about car maintenance and insurance. Gone is the stress of owning a car. All of that is replaced with the feeling of being cared for by the car company.
Customer Experience is Good for Business
Book by Cadillac is as much a great customer experience case as it is a strategic business case. A few years ago, Cadillac realized that its customer does not necessarily live in Detroit but is more likely to live on a coast, so they moved the brand headquarters to New York. Second, the car manufacturer discovered that Millennials were not buying Cadillacs. To solve for that, the brand created Book by Cadillac, a product focused on experience vs. material product – a product that gives customers options and freedom. The strategy worked! The average age of the Book by Cadillac customer is 40 vs the overall Cadillac customer’s age of 60.
Customer experience strategy, when applied correctly, works very well. When a brand puts the customer at the center of its design and business, new customers do come. Cadillac is living proof that shifting your business model at the right time means shifting your business to the future. Take a risk and it will pay off. Follow the customer and the customer will lead you to the future!