In my previous post, I shared a few examples from my personal life that illustrate how customer experience has become critical to our purchase decisions and how brands are using this as a tool for customer acquisition, retention, loyalty and advocacy.
The examples I described covered multiple aspects of Customer Experience – interaction with different representatives of the brand, customer orientation and service. In addition to these aspects in the last post, customer experience also includes the shopping environment.
It’s a similar understanding of all these elements that led to the birth of Nexa by Maruti Suzuki
The Nexa Experience
Maruti Suzuki has always been associated with offering value for money, fuel-efficient cars. This leading car brand in India has had strong offerings in the entry-level vehicles segment and has effectively targeted first-time buyers. However, despite repeated attempts, the brand was unable to make a mark in the mid and top segment of the car market.
With the introduction of Nexa in mid-2015, the brand intended to attract a different set of aspirational buyers – third-generation car buyers who are well informed and well travelled – by offering a premium customer experience in all aspects, one that went far beyond offering a superior car and looked at car buying in a holistic manner. The Nexa experience was designed as a premium retail network offering a unique car buying and ownership experience, built on pillars of innovation, technology and pampering. Apart from offering a more premium product, it focused on a premium buying experience in an exclusive environment while focusing on hospitality, and building a strong relationship with consumers for the entire duration of the ownership of their car.
Product, they took care of – the first car to be launched was the S-Cross, which was well styled, on-trend and loaded with features which one wouldn’t expect in a traditional Maruti. This was followed by the launch of Baleno, Ciaz & Ignis – all of which have advanced technology, superior features, and top-end styling and feel.
Environment was a key focus area – while traditional Marutis were sold in plain jane, no–frill showrooms, the Nexa showrooms were designed to give an exclusive feel – black and white interiors, luxury lounges, infotainment systems, professional spotlights, the works! They were not benchmarked against car dealerships, but instead to luxury stores, 5-star hotels, aviation and banking experiences. For example, they drew upon the idea of relationship managers (RMs) typically found in banks and made their salespersons RMs who would build a relationship over the course of the ownership of the vehicle. They also started associating with fashion shows and music concerts to project the brand in a younger, more premium light.
Results have been promising.
Maruti was able to attract new consumers to its brand – over 50% of consumers who come to Nexa showrooms are car owners who have never owned a Maruti Suzuki vehicle before and for whom Maruti wasn’t even in the consideration set due to its mass image. About 51% of consumers who come into a Nexa showroom end up buying a car from there. Today, Nexa has built a strong 3,00,000 customer base.
Maruti has moved from a 46% market share in FY15 to 51% in FY17. Nexa contributes ~25% in value terms and 15% in volume terms to the total sales of the company, and has been able to achieve this three years ahead of schedule.
To extend the Nexa experience further, Maruti has recently rolled out Nexa Service – premium workshops designed especially to cater to customers opting for products from the Nexa brand, equipped with high level of automation, premium lounges, online appointment facilities, status updates, etc.
Having read so much about it, I decided to visit a Nexa showroom in order to see whether all the hype was true.
The experience was impressive, to say the least. The showroom had a very sophisticated, premium feel – elegant, monochromatic interiors, dedicated waiting areas and enclosed spaces for customer interactions, and the space had an intuitive flow. There was remarkable use of technology throughout the space – the waiting lounge had flat screens with information about not only their own cars but also about competitor brands, tablets were used to walk us through the features of the car on the shop floor. It was a paper-free environment, where all information was captured and shared digitally – KYC forms, details of the car I looked at, specific customizations that I had requested and price quotes. Also impressive were the salespersons who were sharply dressed and well spoken; during the entire interaction it was remarkable to see how well versed they were with the product features and the ease with which they used technology to showcase them.
After this experience, the brand image is no longer fuddy-duddy; instead it is young, current and on-point. I would definitely be excited to consider the brand next time I am looking to buy a car.
Several brands, like Maruti, have understood the power of customer experience and are committing themselves to enhancing this in their own ways. Can you think of any examples of brands that have taken big strides towards customer experience? Do share your thoughts.
- Roshni Jhaveri