COVID-19 pandemic: Accelerating digitalisation in sales and after-sales: Executive Update on 'Best Customer Experience 4.0'

21.
July 2020
Stuttgart

Executive Update on ‘Best Customer Experience 4.0’ – fact sheet including quotes from Britta Seeger 

Key facts on Mercedes-Benz’s global sales strategy: 

  • With its global sales strategy 'Best Customer Experience 4.0', Mercedes-Benz consistently focuses on its customers and their needs. Digital offerings in sales and after-sales are increasingly coming into focus. Customers want to be able to get in touch with their favorite brand anytime, anywhere. 

  • Mercedes-Benz, together with its dealer partners, has been investing a three-digit million amount worldwide in the further development of sales since 2013.

  • Almost every vehicle purchase already begins online today. Around 90 percent of customers already come into the dealerships well-informed. Previously, customers visited dealerships an average of eight times before deciding on a vehicle, today it is an average of one to two times before it comes to a purchase. 
  • With the latest update of the vehicle configurator in more than 40 markets, the speed, navigation and design has been improved for customers. A highlight to this is the improved integration with connected options such as booking a test drive. 
  • Mercedes-Benz was the first car manufacturer in Germany to launch a nationwide online store for new vehicles in 2016. Since then, the range of online stores for new and used vehicles has been expanded to more than 14 markets. 
  • Mercedes-Benz expects to achieve a quarter of global passenger car sales through online channels together with its trading partners by 2025. 
  • China is considered a pioneer in digitalisation. In recent years, Mercedes-Benz has gradually expanded its digital offerings and channels in China in order to offer customers a digital luxury experience. Adoption of digital offers has increased rapidly especially in recent months: in June the share of customers in China who signed electronic financial contracts online was 85 percent. 
  • Following South Africa, customers in Sweden can also experience a seamless and convenient luxury experience, as all possible touchpoints for customers are seamlessly and digitally integrated when buying a new vehicle. In 2021, Mercedes-Benz will also switch to direct sales of new vehicles in Austria. 
  • In spite of all digital offerings, physical retail remains an essential part of the customer journey. But dealerships are also experiencing a digital transformation with new services and offers for customers. 
  • The digitalisation of sales at Mercedes-Benz also includes the workshop and after-sales business. The company expects that 80 percent of all service appointments will be booked online by 2025. Customers will receive individual offers and appointment suggestion which they can easily accept with just one click. 
  • Mercedes-Benz will continue to invest in the digital transformation of its sales and after-sales. A seamless and comfortable luxury experience along the entire customer journey will be of crucial importance for customer satisfaction in the future. 

Quotes from Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Marketing & Sales: 

“For many of our customers, luxury means convenience and, sometimes even more importantly, saving time. With ‘Best Customer Experience 4.0’, we want to make it as possible for our customers, and offer them a seamless and convenient luxury experience – regardless of time, place or the channel they are using.” 

“The past few months have been a challenge for all of us. However, our sales and service teams around the world were able to respond very quickly to the changing customer demands and legal requirements. Our global partners have developed creative, digital and contactless solutions so that we can continue to provide our customers with the best possible service. Purchase interest among our customers remains strong and we are receiving very positive feedback on the many online activities of our retail partners worldwide.” 

“Our continued assumption is that by 2025, we will generate a quarter of global car sales together with our sales partners via online channels. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digitalisation process.” 

“For us at Mercedes-Be Mercedes-Benz will continue to invest in the digital transformation of its sales and after-sales. A seamless and comfortable luxury experience along the entire customer journey will be critical to customer satisfaction in the future.nz, digitalisation has long been a key element of our global sales strategy. We introduced ‘Best Customer Experience’ in 2013 in order to align ourselves with changing customer needs in the digital age and we have invested in all aspects of digitalisation in sales and after-sales.” 

“We assume that by 2025 our customers will book 80 percent of all service appointments online. Our customers will receive personalised offers and appointment recommendations that they will be able to accept with one simple click.” 

“Personal, face-to-face interactions will always be important, but even visits to our retail partners are undergoing a digital transformation.” 

“Mercedes-Benz’s best second quarter to date in China shows the impressive speed at which demand is currently recovering in our largest market. We are cautiously optimistic that other markets will gradually follow suit. By now nearly all of our worldwide dealerships have reopened. In June, global car deliveries were already slightly above last year’s level.” 

“We are very well positioned with our customer-oriented digital initiatives. A seamless and integrated interaction with customers via online and offline channels will be crucial to our customer satisfaction in the future. Customers will be moving continuously between physical and digital touchpoints. For this reason, we will continue to invest in the digital transformation despite all of the current challenges.”     
         

Executive Update on ‘Best Customer Experience 4.0’– press information 

Contactless and convenient: Mercedes-Benz continues to push forward with digitalisation in sales and after-sales, and increases focus on individual customer wishes 

The global sales strategy ‘Best Customer Experience 4.0’ consistently places customers and their needs front and center. That is why contact between Mercedes-Benz and its customers in recent months has been taking place mainly via its numerous digital channels. The brand’s global sales partners very quickly developed creative and contactless offerings to provide their customers with the best possible service and support even during challenging times. 

Stuttgart.  There has been increasing focus on digital offerings in sales and after-sales. Customers want to be able to get in touch with their favorite brand anytime, anywhere. “For us at Mercedes-Be Mercedes-Benz will continue to invest in the digital transformation of its sales and after-sales. A seamless and comfortable luxury experience along the entire customer journey will be critical to customer satisfaction in the future.nz, digitalisation has long been a key element of our global sales strategy,” says Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Marketing & Sales. “We introduced ‘Best Customer Experience’ in 2013 in order to align ourselves with changing customer needs in the digital age and we have invested in all aspects of digitalisation in sales and after-sales.” The brand therefore has had a solid foundation in recent months to provide its customers with comprehensive advice and service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2013, Mercedes-Benz has invested a three-digit million amount every year in the development of its sales activities as part of the ‘Best Customer Experience’ strategy. 

“For many of our customers, luxury means convenience and, sometimes even more importantly, saving time. With ‘Best Customer Experience 4.0’, we want to make it as easy as possible for our customers, and offer them a seamless and convenient luxury experience – regardless of time, place or the channel they are using,” explains Britta Seeger. 

“Our continued assumption is that by 2025, we will generate a quarter of global car sales together with our sales partners via online channels. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digitalisation process,” says Britta Seeger. Because of its advanced digitalisation in sales and after-sales, Mercedes-Benz was able to react quickly to the changing situation and legal requirements with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The past few months have been a challenge for all of us. However, our sales and service teams around the world were able to respond very quickly to the changing customer demands and legal requirements. Our global partners have developed creative, digital and contactless solutions so that we can continue to provide our customers with the best possible service.” In the meantime, almost all Mercedes-Benz dealerships worldwide have re-opened. “Purchase interest among our customers remains strong and we are receiving very positive feedback on the many online activities of our retail partners worldwide,” says Britta Seeger. 

In particular, highly digitalised markets such as China and South Korea provided important impetus for other markets through a range of interesting initiatives. Mercedes-Benz customers will benefit from all these experiences. 

Digital sales initiatives around the world 

In terms of digitalisation, China is setting new standards worldwide. Mercedes-Benz has been successively expanding its digital offerings in recent years, and has a number of different digital channels in China through which customers can interact online with the brand and its products. Via the official Mercedes-Benz website, the ,Mercedesme’ WeChat account and the Mercedes-Benz app, the company offers its customers in China product information, advice and configuration as well as the ability to order vehicles, replacement parts and services online. During the COVID-19 pandemic customers were able to order their desired vehicle completely contactless. Adoption of digital offerings has increased rapidly, especially in recent months: in June the share of customers in China who signed electronic financial contracts online was 85 percent. 

Since the opening of the Tmall Flagship Store (a digital marketplace in China) in 2015, customers have been able to conveniently book a test drive online via the website. With the help of Tmall Flagship Stores, the brand is able to present its new models to customers in a direct and very convenient way. As of June 2020, the Flagship Store had almost 300,000 followers. The number of sales via the Tmall Store grew by 95 percent over the previous year. China is the biggest market and one of the driving forces of Mercedes-Benz’s success. “Mercedes-Benz’s best second quarter to date in China shows the impressive speed at which demand is currently recovering in our largest market,” explains Britta Seeger. “We are cautiously optimistic that other markets will gradually follow suit. By now nearly all of our worldwide dealerships have reopened. In June, global car deliveries were already slightly above last year’s level.” 

One example of the seamless integration of online and offline offerings is that Mercedes-Benz customers in China can order tyres for their vehicle via smartphone. They can see directly if the set of tyres they want is in stock, place their order and then have the set of tyres purchased online fitted to their vehicle at selected locations in China within two hours. 

In India, Mercedes-Benz offers a fully digital buying experience called #MercFromHome. Everything is completely contactless and can be done conveniently from home – from choosing the perfect car to financing solutions, the option to trade-in a used vehicle and choosing the preferred service package. A human online concierge assists the buyer through the entire customer journey. The concierge helps with navigating the website, organising test drives, and with payment and vehicle delivery. 

Even face-to-face transactions are becoming increasingly digital. In South Korea, for example, all contracts are digitally signed, whether on-site at the dealership or at home on the couch. Following a one-time entry of a digital signature, all the forms are confirmed by the customer with just one click. The documents are then delivered electronically. This allows the customer to authorise the contract quickly and safely and reduces bureaucratic red tape. 

Expansion of digital channels and offerings 

Digital touchpoints have become a fixed feature of every customer journey – regardless of whether the selected vehicle is ultimately purchased online or in person on-site. Virtually every vehicle sale starts off digitally with online research, meaning that around 90 percent of customers are already well informed by the time they arrive at the dealership. Previously customers used to visit the dealership an average of eight times before making a purchase decision. These days, customers come into the dealership an average of one to two times before deciding to buy. 

One important part of the digital customer journey is the online configurator. Customers can use the configurator to build their desired car in the comfort of their own home. With the latest update improved and faster vehicle configuration is now possible in more than 40 markets. Highlights are the new navigation as well as better integration of related options such as booking test drives. The customer experience on the websites is also even more personalised than before. 

In 2016, Mercedes-Benz was the first car maker in Germany to introduce a nationwide online store for new vehicles, which was expanded just one year later to include online purchase of pre-owned cars. The Mercedes-Benz online store for new cars was relaunched in December 2019 and since then it has received more than 700,000 visits. The Mercedes-Benz online store for new cars offers a continuously available selection of around 1,000 vehicles at attractive terms that can, if desired, be delivered contactless straight to customers’ doorsteps within 14 days. New models are available as soon as they are launched. With the Home Delivery option, the number of visitors to the German online sales platform increased by around 70 percent between April and June. There are now Mercedes-Benz online stores for the sale of pre-owned and new vehicles in more than 14 markets. 

A seamless luxury experience in car buying 

Modern technologies and changes in consumer behaviour are opening up new possibilities for selling vehicles and services. In December 2017, South Africa became the first market where Mercedes-Benz introduced a direct sales model for new cars. Since April 2019, customers in Sweden can also experience a consistent and comfortable luxury experience, as all possible contact points for the customer are seamlessly and digitally integrated when purchasing a new vehicle. For customers, this means less complexity paired with even greater flexibility, accessibility and ease of interaction with Mercedes-Benz. For instance, following a visit to the dealership, the customer can conveniently make any final changes from home and then finalise the purchase completely digitally. One benefit of this is that the prices of the vehicles on offer are the same across the country, regardless of whether the customer buys his new car digitally or on-site at a dealership in the traditional manner. This pricing consistency is being well-received by customers, as their final price is no longer dependent upon their negotiating skills and this eliminates the need for tedious price haggling. 

In 2021, Austria will likewise switch to direct sales of new vehicles, to improve the response to changing customer needs and prepare for the future. The new sales model also offers major opportunities for Mercedes-Benz retail partners to remain a meaningful part of the value chain in an increasingly digital world, and at the same time seamlessly connect all sales forms for the customer. Dealerships will be able to place an even greater focus on customers and therefore concentrate even more on providing advice and a brand experience. 

Digitalisation in after-sales 

Digitalisation of the Mercedes-Benz sales process also includes the service centre and after-sales business. Customers appreciate the new digital possibilities and are increasingly taking advantage of them. “We assume that by 2025 our customers will book 80 percent of all service appointments online. Our customers will receive personalised offers and appointment recommendations that they will be able to accept with one simple click,” says Britta Seeger. 

In combination with a pickup & drop-off service, workshop visits for customers’ vehicles at some Mercedes-Benz partners can even happen completely without their owners. In the future, digitalisation in after-sales will also include digital authorisation and payment for services – another contactless service that saves customers’ time. 

New contactless and digital retail offerings 

In spite of all digital offerings, physical retail remains an essential part of the customer journey. When customers were unable to come into showrooms during retail closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mercedes-Benz sales partners developed and expanded their customer contact through digital options – short videos instead of emails or phone calls have been very well received by customers. Anybody who does not wish to come into the dealership for advice can talk to a product expert via live chat and do a walk around their preferred vehicle, or discuss upcoming repairs or services on a video call. This kind of communication links the personal bond of trust with direct communication – but ‘at a distance’. “Personal, face-to-face interactions will always be important, but even visits to our retail partners are undergoing a digital transformation,” says Britta Seeger. 

If a customer would like more in-depth information on an assistance system or to learn about the MBUX system, they can do so anytime without an appointment and from anywhere. Many explanatory videos are available around-the-clock on the Mercedes me app or YouTube channel. 

The “Visible Workshop” service also offers greater flexibility as well as transparency and time savings for customers when they visit the service centre. It makes it easier for the customer and technicians to discuss possible further repairs directly at the vehicle. The technician films the vehicle during the service from a number of angles and provides a detailed explanation of any recommendations for further work. The customer receives the video along with a price quotation. If they would like, the customer can simply click to agree and instruct the workshop to carry out the work. 

Another completely contactless service for customers using Mercedes-Benz service centres is the “Digital Detector”. When the vehicle drives through the detector, it documents the condition of the vehicle. It measures the tyre tread and takes photos from all sides, including the underbody of the vehicle. The service adviser quickly and directly identifies possible damages to the vehicle and can show this to the vehicle’s owner. The condition of the vehicle is recorded again following its visit to the service centre. This generates a neutral record that is helpful to both the customer and the service centre, and is completely contactless. 

As part of ‘Best Customer Experience 4.0’, Mercedes-Benz is working continuously on new offerings for its customers. Some service locations will soon be testing completely contactless vehicle handovers. For instance, once all customer service questions and concerns have been clarified, the customer can check-in their vehicle themselves without having to enter the service location. The digital authorisation with signature can take place directly at the terminal, meaning the customer avoids any potential wait time and is no longer bound by the workshop’s opening hours. 

Digitalisation will continue to dominate the sales process 

Digitalisation is changing everyday life as well as the way companies do business. “We are very well positioned with our customer-oriented digital initiatives. A seamless and integrated interaction with customers via online and offline channels will be crucial to our customer satisfaction in the future. Customers will be moving continuously between physical and digital touchpoints. For this reason, we will continue to invest in the digital transformation despite all of the current challenges,” sums up Britta Seeger.

Press Contact

  • Global Business Communications Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales & After Sales
  • Tel: +49 176 30961681

Media

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    The service advisor inspects the car together with the customer to document any damage or service demand on the tablet.
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    The service advisor holds a smartphone and informs the customer about possible additional repair jobs via video message.
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    At the service appointment, the customer can hand over the vehicle key without physical contact.
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    The customer concludes the purchase contract for the new vehicle together with the sales consultant.
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    The product expert consults the customer on her desired vehicle.
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    The product expert carries out a digital customer consultation with the help of the tablet.
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    The customer configures her desired car with the help of the Mercedes Benz car configurator on a tablet.
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    Eva Wiese, Head of Own Retail Passenger Cars  &  Vans Württemberg
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    Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Marketing  &  Sales.
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    Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Marketing  &  Sales
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    Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Marketing  &  Sales in conversation with Yasmine Blair
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    Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Marketing  &  Sales
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    Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Marketing  &  Sales is in conversation with Yasmine Blair
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    With Best Customer Experience 4.0, Mercedes-Benz offers its customers a seamless and convenient luxury experience whenever they want to get in touch with Mercedes-Benz – online to offline, and back again.
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