Challenges and opportunities
After-sales service is a key component of dealer profitability for all premium car brands. However, competition is increasing with independent service centres improving service levels and lowering prices, and changes in European law allow garages other than manufacturers’ authorised dealerships to service vehicles without invalidating warranties.
Mercedes-Benz asked Engine to help them substantially differentiate their servicing offer; to create compelling reasons for customers to choose, remain loyal to, and recommend them, while ensuring the change was desirable and achievable for the franchise network.
Engine worked with Mercedes to create an end to end service experience with a whole suite of supporting concepts and enablers. We tested the service in a full-scale prototype to ensure the best possible results and supported the pilot programme. MyMercedes-Benz after-sales has now been rolled out globally, in over 25 regions, winning prestigious industry awards; a ‘Techie’ for the web booking tool MyService and an AM award for MyDash, the service platform that enables it.
What we did
Engine began to develop the after-sales service by learning all about the industry and customer needs. We explored the current after-sale and servicing business models, and visited garages and dealerships to conduct interviews and observe behind the scenes. This helped us to understand the existing systems and processes and the challenges faced by the franchise owners and those providing the service.
We also conducted design research with a diverse group of Mercedes-Benz owners, with interviews and shadowing to gain insights into the different aspects of customers’ motoring lives and priorities. Engine went as mystery shoppers to both Mercedes-Benz and competitors’ garages to explore the existing service experience and we ran group sessions with premium car owners to draw out more detail of needs and desires and to generate and develop their thoughts for an ideal service experience.
Engine took all the insights from the research phase and mapped them across frameworks to draw out a high-level strategic vision for the Mercedes-Benz after-sales experience, which would be led by customer value and personalisation and underpinned by five service principles to guide development and delivery.
With the new service vision to work from, we then ran workshops with Mercedes stakeholders to inspire and generate a range of customer-centred concepts and propositions around servicing and customer experiences. We took the concepts and propositions and worked with franchise owners to begin to map them across a range of potential customer journeys. As the new customer journeys emerged, we started to visualise the underlying service ecology - the framework of people, systems, environments, and tools required to support each journey and experience.
Engine developed and refined each aspect of the new service experience, looking at value propositions, individual touchpoints and enablers, and how every aspect would work together as seamless and differentiated services. We kept the focus on the customers, tailoring the experience to be personalised to them and helping them to feel valued by propositions such as accurate information capture which could then be used to address them by name, retrieve their ownership history and provide perks and benefits relevant to them. The whole service offer emerged as four distinct propositions which would meet all the needs of Mercedes’ customers and would complement each other, working as a full system of care.
We ran a programme of iterative prototyping and review sessions with customers, staff and stakeholders, to test the new service system and customer experience. This ranged from desktop walkthroughs to a full-scale installation: building the service experience in a space where customers participated in a mock-up of the entire experience, from booking a service and visiting the garage through to receiving the invoice.
The service prototype helped to test and highlight the components necessary to deliver the desired customer journey and demonstrated and refined all the connections and interactions between each of the new systems, staff roles, tools, and environments.
For the project’s final phase, Engine brought the designs to life in a fully functional pilot. We wrote detailed specifications for every aspect of the customer-facing service, from customer communications to behaviours and architectural layout. We created service blueprints of the necessary back-end processes, working with stakeholders to ensure that our specifications were aligned to existing systems and effectively supported delivery.
Finally, we engaged third party suppliers (architects, interior designers, website companies, and the producers of the marketing brochures) to ensure that they were fully briefed with the new vision, and we worked with internal teams to ensure they were ready to deliver the desired customer experience.
Engine delivered an innovative new service model, built around customers and using their insights to create a customer-centred vision. We ensured the value propositions were viable for Mercedes, with complementary propositions and compelling reasons to choose Mercedes-Benz’s servicing. Engine helped to test and pilot the service, to give Mercedes-Benz the confidence they needed before rolling the service out nationally.
The 2010 pilot resulted in:
- Customer satisfaction ratings up by 50%
- Retail visits up by 8.1%, vs. a national decline of 3.1% in previous years
- Retail Hours up by 16.5%, versus a national decline at other sites of 1.9%
- Average Spend up by £18
- Car sales also increased by 4.5%, which is felt to have benefited from the improved customer engagement in after-sales.
As of 2012, MyMercedes-Benz was rolled out globally, in over 25 regions, with another 25 planned for 2013. The service has been adapted to each territory and market.
The concepts we developed have also been recognised with prestigious industry awards: winning a BusinessCar Fleet Technology award (Techie) for Customer Service in 2012 for the web booking tool MyService; and, an Automotive Management award for Best Digital Initiative in 2013 for MyDash, the online tool that enables MyService.