Fueling Process and Technological Change | How to Drive Delight the Mercedes-Benz Way

This is the fourth in the five-part series, “How to Drive Delight the Mercedes-Benz Way.”

In my book, Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way, I detail how Mercedes-Benz leaders transformed their customer experience through a clearly defined set of strategic objectives. One of the target areas pursued by leaders was to fuel process and technological change to enable customer delight.

As a consultant during the Mercedes-Benz customer experience transformation, I wrote the following about the Mercedes-Benz approach to process improvement:

If you were a fan of the television series Seinfeld, you’ll likely recall a scene where two of the show’s main characters, Jerry and Elaine, approach a rental car counter to pick up a mid-sized car. The rental agent confirms Jerry’s reservation and lets him know that there are no midsize cars available. Jerry is confused and explains that he made a reservation and that should have ensured a midsize car was available for him. After some additional banter, Jerry sums up the situation by noting the rental company is great at making reservations. They “just don’t know how to hold a reservation – and that’s the point of a reservation in the first place.” Many customer experience failures, like Jerry’s carless reservation, result from siloed organizations, process gaps, or technological systems that don’t integrate to help the customer move across their journey with a brand. Online rental reservation systems may function perfectly, but when the vehicle is unavailable, the customer doesn’t care how easy it was to book the car online.  In keeping with a desire to create a seamless and technologically integrated experience, Mercedes-Benz leadership improved customer experience – not by taking care of a single pain point during a transaction but by aligning people, processes, technology, and systems. Taking that approach, Mercedes-Benz leadership provided streamlined customer interactions that linked all elements of the business – dealerships, Mercedes-Benz USA, and Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.

One example of how leaders aligned Mercedes-Benz in a silo-busting way was Premier Express – a no-appointment quick service delivery approach that enables basic maintenance in less than 30 minutes. The business case behind Premier Express was a singular focus on honoring customers’ time so that they didn’t seek routine maintenance services from national quick-service companies that don’t offer Mercedes-Benz certified technicians or parts. To make Premier Express work, Mercedes-Benz leadership defined a new staffing model and process workflow. Dealerships offering Premier Express have two-technician teams dedicated to basic maintenance. Customers arrive without appointments and have routine services completed in 30 minutes without a complimentary car wash or in 45 minutes with the car wash included.   Since the initial pilot of Premier Express, Mercedes-Benz has enjoyed significant increases in customer service satisfaction and retention.

In addition to Premier Express, the Mercedes-Benz customer experience transformation also included Digital Service Drive. This initiative was a significant step for Mercedes-Benz to deliver cutting-edge integration of processes, technology, and human service. Digital Service Drive addressed experience elements such as:

  • Online service appointment scheduling. Customers can schedule their service needs at any time using a smart device or computer.
  • Service drive tablets. Where a service advisor completes the write-up, vehicle history, walk around, customer information collection, and loaner contract processes, all from the advisor’s tablet.  These activities take place in the service drive without the customer having to leave their vehicle.
  • Status notification automatically sent via customer-preferred method. The customer receives updates on the service process and a summary of the work being completed in easy-to-understand language.
  • Flexible bill pay which includes
    • Online Bill Pay: A feature that enables customers to use their devices to make self-service payments by delivering final parts and service invoices via text and email. It also allows customers to pay anywhere and anytime that is convenient to them, and
    • Active Service Cashiering: Service advisors can complete the payment process on the service drive via their tablet and enterprise payment system. Customers no longer need to go to a cashier or wait in line.

Given Mercedes-Benz approach to process and technological change, here are this week’s challenge questions for your consideration:

  1. Extrapolating from the Seinfeld example, what “carless reservation” type experiences are happening in your business?
  2. How have you streamlined customer interactions across previously siloed parts of your customer experience?
  3. What process improvement/technology integration programs have you launched in the last six months to a year? What integrations are on your roadmap?

Until next week may you elevate your customer experience by being Driven to Delight.

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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