Monday, 12 October 2009

CRM crashes out with Audi

We hear a lot about CRM (customer relationship management) and how it can help our business. I believe this to be true. However I also believe that CRM is only a technology, it is how you use it that counts.

Friends of mine, already Audi owners, recently received a neat little piece of mail asking them to come in and look at upgrading their car. They weren’t really thinking of changing at this time but were seduced by a secondary message suggesting they might be able to get a better financial deal by coming into their local concession. So my friends made the effort to get an appointment and come in. The mailing was probably well targeted and had the desired effect.

So far so good.

From then on, it all fell apart. During the appointment the salesman was arrogant and cold suggesting that my friends already had had a good deal 18 months ago and couldn’t expect to get any better. The Audi rep talked exclusively to the male of the couple (what could a female expect to know about cars?) Finally he informed the prospective buyers that there really were no deals to be had and when asked, he claimed not to be entirely sure why they had received the letter in the first place.

Another classic case of the right arm not being in sync with the left. Head office had done a great job in segmenting, targeting, and finally producing a nifty bit of direct mail, but the local concessionary had unravelled the customer experience in about 20 seconds. Basic breach of the R of rover for Reception. Audi didn’t even get as far as the R for Reassurance, not to mention the brand damage of a company that thrives on being a luxury brand. My friends have told about 15 people the story so far.

What did my friends do? They walked straight into Mercedes across the road and bought a new C Class. They also got a better finance deal with half the APR. They had no intention of changing their car but were seduced by a great deal and top class customer service.

So CRM is great so long as the chain isn’t broken and the promises you make upfront are backed up all along the journey. Can anyone afford to be letting customers slip away during such tough times?

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