Finally…. Luxury Car Brands are Taking Tips from the Kings of Customer Service

Key Takeaway from The Luxury Doctrine (a new resource in development):

If you want to be successful, especially in luxury, you have to think of, and act like the customer, at all steps in the value chain… you have to manage the customer’s experience

– Edmund Amoye, Lessons in Luxury

For those who have been following my posts on the different luxury segments, you’ll notice that the key catalyst for success in today’s environment is innovation in managing the customer experience. If you are new to this customer-centric theme, I have a list of related posts at the bottom, to get you up to speed.

In every business there are seasons and cycles – ups and downs. At their rollout to end-users, luxury goods and services are sometimes heralded as innovative novelties and “must haves”. However, as brands permeate, manufacturers innovate, and marketing teams penetrate (I had to use that rhyme… too easy to pass up), commoditization sets in. Luckily, the Ford Motor Co. is doing something about that with its Lincoln automotive brand.

– Top View of the 2013 Lincoln MKZ

After cutting the number of Lincoln dealers down by 35% in the past year, Ford is looking to make the best of its remaining dealer network by adding more customer value in the buying experience. The company has hired Les Clefs d’Or, the renowned international association of hotel concierges, to put a luxury concierge twist on the auto-buying experience.

Starting later this year, Lincoln’s new training program, The Lincoln Academy, will help dealers create a buying experience comparative to that provided by the concierge service at a luxury hotel. Read more about this topic at Businessweek.

We realize that great new vehicles are only one part of Lincoln’s transformation… [new models] have to be matched with personal and innovative customer service.

– Jim Farley, Ford’s Group Vice President of Global Marketing, Sales and Service

Why – Ford needs younger, wealthier buyers, who can give the company a chance at higher profit margins for its premium lines. The Lincoln brand, which has strong recognition with older buyers (average 65 years old) has experienced huge sales shrinkage (63%) since its peak in 1990.

Lincoln had U.S. sales of 85,643 vehicles in 2011, down from its 1990 peak of 231,660. The top-selling U.S. luxury auto brand last year was BMW with 247,907.

– Keith Naughton, Bloomberg Businessweek

Solution – Differentiate the buying experience to make Lincoln more competitive with its peers (real or perceived): BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus. Enhance all touch points with the customer, and innovate by introducing seven new models by 2015.

Related posts on the power of being customer-centric:

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