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Richard Holland

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Volvo Boldly Goes Where No One Dares Go

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While most businesses analyze budgets and shift money towards digital advertising, video and branding, Volvo has taken an interesting strategy: to decrease marketing. While it isn’t planning to cease all activities, Volvo has decided that, rather than attempt to take on any rivals with bigger budgets, it will shift money towards providing a more personalized customer experience for its owners. Volvo’s plan is for a personal service technician to deliver each new Volvo in person. The technician will then be on call for the customer seven days per week, throughout the customer’s ownership. Volvo has started an extensive global training program, with the goal of making this service standard in all dealerships by 2017.

 

A recent Ad Age article, quoted Alain Visser, SVP marketing, sales and customer service at Volvo Cars, as saying, “We want to challenge traditional, conservative car marketing, which starts with TV, print, billboards and sponsorship. The recipe is always the same. But it's not the best recipe for Volvo. When customers buy a Volvo they are buying a relationship -- the personal service technician is like your butler."

 

It’s unclear at the moment what tasks or services these personal service technicians will offer customers. It’s also unclear who will foot the bill for these technicians. All indications point towards these technicians being permanent fixtures in Volvo dealerships. This raises the question as to who these techs are actually employed by – the manufacturer or the dealership. I’m sure any questions will be answered in time. How dealerships and service departments welcome this change will likely be dependent on economics and control. That being said, this move could lead to dealers enjoying an increase in customer loyalty, since these personal service technicians are location-based.

 

With personal service comes trust. The more personal your relationship is with your customer, the more likely they will be to continue to do business with you and refer your dealership to their friends. By creating an ownership experience that is even more customer-centric, those dealerships that already deliver a great customer experience may find Volvo’s efforts a further boost to brand loyalty. This should then lead to additional sales and service opportunities.  And that is never a bad thing.

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