When one thinks of Tesla, one thinks high-tech. Sleek. Elegant. Powerful. Eco-friendly. But one very underrated thing about Tesla is how it has redefined a lot of things in the automotive industry. This includes customer experience and customer service.
Tesla diverted from the traditional dealership type selling, in many states cutting out the middle-man entirely, therefore establishing a better connection with customers. As a result, Tesla remains one of the most transformative companies in the U.S and even doubly so in the auto industry.
A better focus on the customer
Tesla’s customer service and customer experience journey hasn’t been without its bumps though. Through the years, Tesla has seen more than its fair share of customer complaints.
Despite its success, the company IS significantly smaller than many of its larger and more powerful competitors; competitors who have established customer service infrastructures already in place. Despite Tesla not having the traditional organizational prowess of a larger auto company, this doesn't limit their effective response to these complaints.
The company has consistently shown it takes these issues seriously, even going as far as allowing customers to escalate problems directly to a company executive, according to a report from Inc. --a risky move in traditional corporate culture. But Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk, are no strangers to risk.
The value of the customer is not lost on Tesla. Given its size and the relative expense of its vehicles, customer needs are held to the highest esteem. Just take into account the company's consistently high rating in owner satisfaction, and their NPS of +96 . In 2017 they retained the top spot in Consumer Reports' annual survey. Proof that the company is to a significant extent, customer-centric.
What Tesla is doing right?
So, what makes Tesla successful in the customer experience and customer service department? A number of things:
Focusing on customer experiences
As mentioned earlier, Tesla isn’t slow on the uptick about how important customer needs are, but its approach also differs from larger auto companies. For example, a KPMG report notes that due to the nature of its car production, Tesla is able to focus more on creating a positive customer experience.
The company's approach is letting customers, and especially potential buyers, feel the “Tesla experience”; the culture associated with their product. Think less selling products, more selling the brand itself. Tesla knows that if it sells the brand, it’ll likely sell cars too.
This is a smart strategy, considering that an AutoTrader study found:
54% of consumers would buy from a dealership that offers their preferred experience, even if it didn’t have the lowest price
72% would visit dealerships more often if the buying process was improved
Supporting the customer's experience
Tesla’s full service approach is another plus for the company. Their support extends outside the showroom and even beyond the usual maintenance. Tesla has put up a strong network of charging stations all around the U.S. and Europe. This means customers are still connected (both literally and figuratively) to the brand even in the mundane task of charging their cars.
Regarding customer service, in light of recent complaints, the company has rolled out a number of expansions to its customer service staff and improved other customer service-related programs. Musk also recently stated that customer service response time would be the company’s new priority, according to an Electrek report.
Creating brand ambassadors
Again, Tesla isn’t just about its products and services. There is a lot of focus on people and customers. Tesla also creates the advocacy for cleaner energy and more sustainable driving. This helps customers develop a more emotional connection with the brand. One need only check their "Customer Stories" section on their website to see that customers truly become solid fans of the company. As brand ambassadors are created, the company legitimizes itself even more. Customer-turned brand ambassadors are listened to more. People know they aren’t paid to advertise.
A customer-centric strategy that works
Tesla’s approach to customer service and customer experience creation aren’t perfect. There are still many points of improvement. But the success the company is experiencing now is proof that they are on the right track.
Many companies and organizations can take a page out of Tesla’s playbook. Creating more engaging customer experiences and investing in better customer service is risky. But the rewards outweigh the cons by far. And time and time again, it’s been proven that responding to customer needs first pays off.