Yesterday we picked up a new car at Audi in Ingolstadt, their headquarters. For those of you who don't know, Audi offers the option to pick up your car directly at the source. There's a lot of fanfare associated with this. Germans love their cars "long time"! (Slovaks too!) Anyway, what you basically do is show up (usually in a rental car) and get your car handed over to you in their customer center. They invite you to spend a couple hours there by offering you a tour of their factory floor, access to the Audi Museum and free food and drink. All in all, it's a fun way to start off your "relationship" with your new car on the right foot. Plus, you save some money in transfer and shipping costs.
Nevertheless, here's a bit of a rant about how Audi drops the ball on something so easy to remedy. We showed up at their reception and told them we were there to pick up a car. In my opinion, here is where CRM software absolutely HAS TO BE in place and needs to shine. My g/f was the one buying the car this time. This is her second Audi. Her father has already bought two Audis. Her mother drives an Audi. Her brother drives an Audi. All of these cars have been in her father's name. Long story short, we're talking about a name associated with approximately €200,000 in value thus far. Do you think they knew this at Audi when we picked up the car? Nope! Did the level of service we received reflect in any way the fact that they knew we were repeat buyers? No! Ball dropped? Yes!
Compare this to my experience when I picked up my last Audi. Note, my car cost more than double the car we picked up yesterday. It was also my third Audi at that point and I tended to prefer S-Versions in the past. Basically, when picking up one of those vehicles, you're specially greeted by someone from Audi and are treated a tad "differrently" then when picking up a vehicle at the lower end of the spectrum. Fine, I can understand investing more time on those spending more. It's similar to either being Senator Status or "only" Frequent Traveller Status at Lufthansa. Different class of service. At the same time, a customer buying a cheaper car can be a repeat customer and have a lifetime value far greater than someone who only buys one expensive car from you.
What's the takeaway here? Basically, know your customer even before they get to you. If someone has already bought something from you, install software to make sure that you recognize him or her when they return. Audi knew we were coming that day. They give you a timeslot to pick up the car. Someone could of easily done a bit of research beforehand to make sure that when we arrived, the person greeting us had info in front of them about who we are. You wouldn't of even needed real time updates. This information could of easily been prepared and waiting for us.
In so many businesses, both online and offline, your customer introduces himself to you with their name. They are either checking in, signing in or being personally greeted by someone when entering your premises. You always have a chance to cross-check that name with your database to see who this person is. You can't imagine how much people enjoy being "recognized". If someone spends a ton of money with you, celebrate them. It's such a simple thing to do and the technology is there to do this. I can't possibly imagine why you wouldn't. Yet on a daily basis, I'm reminded of the fact that there is still so much technology to implement and so many little tweaks which allow you to outcompete your competitor. I'm sure Toyota or Peugeot or Nissan are taking note of these things and could just do a bit more to get my business. In the car world, this can be hundreds of thousands in won or lost sales. Make sure this doesn't happen to you, even if your sales amounts are lower.
Sidenote: for the first time in 10 years, I am again car-less. I spent the first three years in Germany w/o a car. Just didn't need it. I am again at the point where a car is no longer necessary. Public transport, car-sharing schemes, taxis and very simply, my bike will be keeping me mobile. Manufacturers, take note!