For context and based on requests, I’m in the process of presenting key concepts from my ten McGraw-Hill customer experience and leadership books. This is the first in the five-post series, “How to Drive Delight the Mercedes-Benz Way.”
In my book, Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way, I outlined leadership and customer experience strategies that catapulted Mercedes-Benz USA from 22nd on the JD Power Customer Satisfaction Index to the number one position. Unlike many of my books that focus on business principles, Driven to Delight looks at the Mercedes-Benz transformation journey over three years and explores how leaders:
- Translated leadership promises into commitments
- Examined and elevated every customer touchpoint
- Trained for delight
- Fueled process and technological change
- Targeted delight instead of satisfaction
As a consultant who worked on the Mercedes-Benz customer experience transformation, I’ll offer an inside look at the key leadership actions that pushed Mercedes-Benz to service greatness. In Driven to Delight, I describe the Mercedes-Benz CX journey this way:
“This is the story of leaders at a legendary company who realized their customers weren’t having sales and service interactions in keeping with the quality engineered into their products. It is the story of transformation and what it takes to move a legacy brand toward true customer obsession. It is the story of an audacious vision, a seismic culture shift, sustained sales growth, and measurable/award-winning customer experience improvements. Most importantly, this is your guide to help drive delight through your organization and to your customers. The first step in the Mercedes-Benz transformation was to envision and map their optimal customer experience.”
To that end, the CEO of Mercedes-Benz at the time, Steve Cannon, and his leadership team created a “Future Vision Map” to depict their assessment of Mercedes-Benz’s current customer experience, desired future state, and the action plan needed to optimize future customer interactions. In addition to the tangible map, Steve, and his team, made commitments and shared them with all stakeholders. Those commitments came in the form of something Mercedes-Benz leaders referred to as “The Standard,” which read:
“Every department will be mobilized, every touchpoint with the brand will be examined and refined, and every employee at every dealership will be trained and equipped to drive customer delight.”
After outlining the ideal future state and communicating “The Standard,” leaders at Mercedes-Benz began the process of department mobilization, touchpoint elevation, and employee training. In upcoming posts in this series, I will outline the Mercedes-Benz actions for those commitments but for now, here are three challenge questions for you to consider:
- Have you assessed the current state and envisioned your optimal customer experience?
- In addition to verbally communicating your ideal future state, have you shared your vision on a tangible map?
- What commitments have you made commitments to support the actions needed to take your organization from the present to your ideal future state?