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Stephen Cannon, the CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, believes he needs to further differentiate the Mercedes-Benz brand. He plans to accomplish his lofty goal by elevating the customer experience of his retail customers to a new level. As he explained in Automotive News, "the need to deliver an exceptional, truly differentiating customer experience has never been greater.” But how is Cannon attempting to redefine the luxury experience in the already established luxury market? The answer is a consultant from New Jersey; who is described by many as the world’s #1 customer experience expert.
Lior Arussy, a former executive of HP, travels the world consulting for some of the world’s largest companies (FedEx, Citigroup, HSBC, Royal Caribbean, etc..). In 2011, Lior’s company, Strativity, was hired to lead Mercedes-Benz’s customer experience initiative. After analyzing thousands of employee engagement surveys submitted by employees of Mercedes-Benz dealers, Strativity devised a plan to redefine the Mercedes-Benz customer experience. Since 2011, Strativity consultants have trained thousands of Mercedes-Benz employees throughout the entire retail dealer network. And it seems, while Cannon never said the name of his “secret weapon,” he appears quite satisfied with the results:
Cannon & the “Customer Experience”:
How I met Lior:
In January of this year, Strativity hosted a 3-day workshop in New York to certify corporate executives in Customer Experience Management. I attended the seminar, and I was instantly impressed to find myself in a room full of high-ranking International executives that travelled from as far as Australia for the opportunity to meet Lior. It was as if Lior had his own cult following; nearly all the attendees read at least one of Lior’s books, blogs, or even keynotes. I felt like an outsider. I never even heard of Lior, and only found the seminar through a Google search. However, just like everyone else in the class, I was quickly “enchanted.” Unlike other cultural or leadership consultants that throw abstract ideas at executives, Lior actually presented us with a framework and pragmatic action plan to implement immediate change within our companies. We left the workshop with a certificate, an action plan, and a memorable experience.
As more and more companies jump on the customer experience bandwagon, it’s important to understand that an elevated customer experience begins with components of an organization’s culture – specifically the level of engagement between employees and customers. These interactions are the fundamental determinants of how a customer will perceive a company.
The stakes are high but the rewards are big… Investing in a car dealership customer experience program improves loyalty, profitability, and branding. However, it takes tremendous buy-in from the dealer principal, as it can be a strenuous and eye-opening experience. Any dealer that’s willing to take the plunge, and is ready to transforms satisfied customers into extremely satisfied customers, should consider a customer experience initiative.
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