When a customer calls, you wouldn’t ignore them. That’s obvious. A more fundamental questions is: why does the customer pick up the phone and call you? What does the customer get from you that he doesn’t get from the competition?
From A to B: Amazon, Amex, and BMW
With Amazon, customers get convenient and speedy delivery. Orders arrive quickly. Returns are easy, or at least no harder than on competitor sites.
With American Express, you get great customer service. They have a good balance between online support, apps, and phone support. All three channels make it easy to talk or write with Customer Service.
So spare a thought for the auto industry. Cars are becoming computers on wheels. That upsets the old stratification of car and service qualities, which is the base for auto manufacturers and dealerships today.
Until last year, my local BMW dealer offered fantastic service, including serving coffee while I waited and a courtesy car to get home. Both the coffee and the courtesy car have gone, I suspect to save costs. Still, I can live without them as the service from the staff is excellent.
But how long will it last? In KPMG’s recent Global Automotive Executive Survey, nearly half of mobility customers say the top three factors in their next buying decision will be vehicles that are easily available, easy to charge, and fast to pay for. That points to car-sharing and short-term rentals.
Staying alive by using dialogs, discipline, and priorities
To stay relevant and profitable in the mobility industry, global auto manufacturers and their suppliers need to learn from Amazon and American Express.
Most mobility companies have a strategic plan for the disruptions happening now. But experts think about three quarters of these companies will struggle to execute those plans. The middle part is missing.
The magic middle in those execution plans is a combination of clear corporate priorities, dialogs, and discipline. These three factors are even more important in global companies.
In national companies, executives know (or make a well-educated guess) about what customers want. In global companies, customers in different regions and countries have different wants. It’s difficult to stay on top of why your local customers call you and not the competitors.
The future is a culture of Vertical and Horizontal Dialogs
The fastest way to get there, for global companies, is to embed vertical and horizontal dialogs into their culture. Good questions to start with are:
- What do customers in our different global regions/countries want?
- What are the objectives for us that flow from those wants?
- Which global functions are involved in serving those wants?
- Which global function or site is in the best position to lead this initiative?
The future is unlikely to belong to strongly centralised decision-making in the head office. Instead, the most competent global function or site will lead a specific strategic initiative. (Competence here is a mix of skills, technology, resources, and people).
At its core, the process will work through vertical-horizontal dialogs across the global organisation. It is the executives who can lead dialogs up and down AND across the global organisation that will make it work.