The challenge

Our customer experience training and engagement programmes for Mercedes-Benz started back in 2004. At that time, the turbulence caused by intensive industry transformation and far-reaching dealer network changes had seen their customer satisfaction scores plummet, and UK JD Power rating fall to 26th place.

An ambitious improvement strategy was required to ensure that the message ‘prestige brand equals prestige customer service’ became a UK-wide reality.

What we did

We worked closely with Mercedes-Benz to develop a strategy that would simultaneously address immediate customer service issues and ensure the long-term delivery of their brand promise. This culminated in the design and delivery of a groundbreaking programme, ‘Class Leaders on the Road’, to significantly improve the Mercedes-Benz customer experience.

The programme launched with a roadshow covering over 60 locations in the UK and Europe. These events presented the customer service issues, along with the new strategy, to an audience that had become disaffected by the recent difficulties.

Using customised conference trucks and multimedia presentation techniques, Class Leaders on the Road was designed to bring about a significant mindset change in dealership management and staff. It opened with a glossy, ‘company propaganda’ film presentation. The film was immediately challenged with a brutally honest ‘telling it like it is’ intervention by a ‘dealership technician’ (one of our professional actors) planted in the audience.

Customers were then observed – in their bedroom – heatedly discussing a new car purchase. A true-to-life ‘warts and all’ visit to a re-created showroom followed.

All the action was interspersed with live interviews with executives from Mercedes-Benz and the dealerships – with plenty of audience participation. Plans and improvements were presented and discussed. Audience views were listened to and acted upon.

These events re-engaged those attending, tapping into their fierce brand loyalty and winning support for the next part of the strategy; ‘Best In Class’ training events. These training events were delivered by Brand Biology behavioural change consultants and professional actors, to over 3,000 customer-facing managers and staff throughout the UK. They were followed by specially adapted events for head office personnel and the development of ‘Class Leaders at Your Place’ training kits, for delivery on-site by dealership managers.

Following the success of the initial programmes, the strategy was extended to the Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle network, along with ‘In the Spotlight’ roadshows and management training events.

Specially adapted ‘Best in Class’ events were also staged for dealership personnel from across Europe, held at the headquarters of parent company Daimler AG in Stuttgart.

The results

Between 2004 and 2009, customer satisfaction scores showed dramatic improvements. In the JD Power ratings, Mercedes Benz climbed from 26th to 3rd place for service satisfaction and achieved the top spot for sales satisfaction.

The programme with Mercedes-Benz UK was completed in 2010. The ongoing use of our bespoke training kits meant that Mercedes-Benz UK remained at 3rd place in the JD Power Customer Survey in both 2011 and 2014.

Following the success of the UK programme, we are now working with Mercedes-Benz in the Middle East, helping them to achieve their target of a 50% increase in sales across the region.