This post is incredibly timely based on my discussions and posts surrounding customer experience. The Big Data talks is about all of this. Leveraging data throughout an organization to understand the customer journey, in order to enhance the customer experience. This is what is going to differentiate brands.
In October of 2014, Loyalty 360 reported that Mercedes Benz CEO advised that Customer Experience is the New Marketing. I am in fact a Mercedes Benz owner. I love my car. In fact, when I gotten into the market for an entry level luxury car 4 years ago Mercedes was my front runner. I test drove Audi, Lexus, BMW and Mercedes Benz a number of times. In the end, Benz won out anyways.
It was the first time in my life that I truly understood a man’s obsession and love for a vehicle. When my dad suggested that I go to Wal-Mart for all season mats and a snow remover, I looked at him like he has a third head. Was he nuts? I wanted all Mercedes Benz things for my baby. I wanted to be part of the Mercedes Benz experience. I wanted to be known as a Mercedes Benz owner, because to me it symbolized that I had the best. It meant that I was going places, and I was going places because I wanted the best out of life.
This is branding at its strongest. Having a customer associate their lifestyle and personality as a reflection of a brand because of what that experience means. I give leniency on the road to other Benz owners, I tend to look for parking beside other Benz’s because I already know those owners will respect my car, and should we happen to see each other getting in or out of our cars their is always a friendly nod and smile.
I recently had to switch banks because of an employer change. I took a day off of work and made sure to take care of it all because I wanted peace of mind. So you can imagine my surprise when over a month later my car payment bounced in my old account causing an NSF charge that pushed the account into an overdraft that I didn’t have.
Switching my banking information with Mercedes Benz was fairly simple compared to some other companies I had to deal with. I just had to send an e-mail with a scanned void cheque (unlike other companies that required me to fill out another PAP agreement, provide ID, a void cheque and either fax or go in in person).
Mercedes Benz claimed that they had not received the e-mail despite me forwarding through the e-mail I sent to them originally a month prior.
They needed more time to investigate and in the interim a second attempt for payment went through the old account with a secondary NSF charge. Thankfully this time my bank reversed the charge because I had put a stop payment on the account.
In the end Mercedes agreed to reverse the NSF. I felt really elated. So thank you Mercedes Benz Financial for doing so.
But what could have been done to make it a better customer experience for me and ensure customer retention?
- Mercedes Benz Financial could allow customers to change their banking information on their website. This is where customers go to check their balances and payment history, and would make tracking of online activity and confirmation so much easier.
- Empower customer services representatives to be able to to act immediately for the customer rather than confining them. By looking at the activity on my accounts, calls made, and the correspondence they would have noticed that I had been with them for 4 years, there had never ever been a missed or bounced payment, and that my finance was coming up for renewal.
- The data Mercedes Benz has on me would have given them pretty powerful insights into my behaviours, patterns and interests. They also have had call profile outlining the reasons I call them and whether I am difficult or easy to appease.
Using these insights and empowering their reps can save them thousands of dollars in efficiencies and provide a best in class customer experience. While I can’t say that I would change my car (because I do love the brand and the car), I do see great areas of opportunity for a beloved brand to kick things up a notch, to provide an even greater brand experience.
It seems that the big buzz word today is “Big Data”. Every where you turn someone, somewhere is discussing what “big data” means for companies, and digital teams, and business models! The questions is…is big data working? By that I mean, as digital strategists, planners, UX ers, community managers…. how does big data really work for us>
The aim of the game is that we are all supposed to be forward looking right? We’re supposed to be anticipating where we should take things for our brands and tightening that bond with our audiences. Analytics, for the most part – took place in the past.
Yeah -it already happened. And it’s not necessarily a predictor of where we should be going, no? Especially when you consider that people use technology based on what is given to them and not necessarily on how they would like to use it. I liken that to the debate that companies have around deciding whether to mobile optimize a site or go responsive based on the data around how users visit their site. If mobile devices show as a lower proportion of the audience visits, then what does that really say about the audience.
The questions becomes – are the users desk top users and therefore that is the user base to cater for, or is it that because the site is only built for desktop experiences, mobile users are frustrated and forced to use their desktops?
Big data means that we have to consider that this data from the past, may not actually be a true reflection of how users want to use our digital properties but rather how they try to use it based on its limitations. Our job is to think about the future and anticipate those changes or identify the gaps that big data just won’t give us.
We have to be creative in filling those gaps, through survey’s, mapping customer experiences, understanding drop off rates and the user flow that took place before a user leaves a site – to create the story of what that digital experience needs to be in the future where data doesn’t exist.