Digital after-sales channels: Can traditional Mercedes-Benz customers accept it?
Hans · Oct 25, 2021 11:20 AM
The Mercedes-Benz brand is one that is steeped in tradition. With more than 70 years of history in Malaysia, generations of Malaysians recognize it as the country’s most desired premium car brand.
However, that deep rooted tradition also means that the brand must be mindful to not be stuck in the past.
Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) can’t continue to operate like it did when Ipoh tin mining tycoons were still around. In 1988, Mercedes-Benz sold less than 500 cars annually here. Today, MBM sells around 10,000 cars annually.
Today’s E-Class is also a lot more complicated than the W123 models favoured by tin mining tycoons here in the ‘70s. A routine maintenance is now a lot more thorough, involving more than just an oil change, and takes longer to complete.
This makes it’s more difficult to cope with walk-in customers. Service centres have to encourage customers to make service appointments online, and stick to their appointed time – the latter is not always easy.
At the same time, customer expectations are also higher and the newer generation of customers appreciate personalized services and real-time updates on their vehicle’s status, which are only possible if customers migrate to its digital channels like the Mercedes me app.
A young owner of a Mercedes-Benz A-Class has very different needs and expectations from an older gentlemen with an S-Class, so a one-size-fits-all used in the past won't work in the future.
Globally, Mercedes-Benz targets to have 8 out of 10 customers to book their service appointments online by 2025.
While Covid-19 has severely disrupted our daily lives, one upside is that it accelerated adoption of Internet services, even with traditional customers who would have otherwise continued to do things the old way – i.e. making appointments over the telephone.
Edmin Naidoo, Head of Customer Services, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia believes that this upside in locals using the company’s digital after-sales channels will stay even after the pandemic is over.
“There are two observations that particularly stand out with our customers in the new normal. One, our customers are always ahead of the game. The internet is at everyone’s convenience and used more so than ever now. This enables us to provide further digitalized offerings with a higher adoption rate than ever. Secondly, tailored experiences are what our customers want, and it is no longer the case of one size fits all,” said Naidoo.
However, Naidoo explained that merely pushing a mobile app to customers doesn’t mean that customers will use it. For example, to encourage use of the contactless online service appointment, sanitization kits were given to customers who made their one-click, service appointments online.
The limited physical touch points also means that the company runs a higher risk of losing its customers to unauthorized workshops. To counter that, Mercedes-Benz dealers offer personalized services such as Drop & Go (customers can drop off their cars after opening hours), Door-to-Door (home pick-up and return) and Express Service (60-minute).
MBM had also relooked into the price structure to offer more cost-effective, menu-style service packages.
“Through this, we saw a good feedback from our customers – increased Online Appointment Booking rate and adoption rate for service options,” said Naidoo.
The MBUX and Mercedes me integration into the new generation of Mercedes-Benz models also opens up many more opportunities for improving after-sales service.
“These are all part of the ‘Best Customer Experience’ strategy that drives our organization to respond to the changing preferences of its customers - appealing to new, modern target groups while, at the same time, bringing loyal customers even closer to the brand.
“It’s a massive advantage that we have introduced the connected vehicle service in Malaysia, Mercedes me – which early this year saw a complete refresh with an addition of the Mercedes me Service app.
“The Service app acts as a one stop shop for the aftercare of your Mercedes-Benz; displaying service data/history, easy access to authorized dealerships, service reminder updates and gives owners an overview of all warning lamps and know-hows. For non-connected vehicle owners, we encourage connecting their vehicle through the Mercedes me Adapter (provided on a complimentary basis) which offers a plug and play benefit enjoyment of four central areas: my vehicle, mobility, statistics and service; a similar feature to the newer Mercedes-Benz models through Mercedes me,” he added.
Moving forward, Naidoo says MBM is already working on adding more capabilities to its digital channels, offering greater personalized services.
“We are looking to evolve our current digitalization efforts in the near future. Just a glimpse to what our customers can anticipate; an e-commerce project is in the pipeline where customers will be able to purchase and enjoy products and digital services offered as well as the introduction of a Virtual Assistance to assist retailers in simplifying complex topics to further increase retail operation efficiency in delivering the best customer experience.”
To find out more about the available service packages and contact-less service options, click hereto make your one-click service appointment.