“The dealership experience is as old as the car industry, roughly one hundred years old. While cars have changed, the retail experience is much the same as it was one hundred years ago,” says Dr. Ian Robertson Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Sales and Marketing BMW.
BMW leaders asked themselves “what business are we really in?” and determined to move beyond “just automotive”. In fact automotive describes more of what is done, rather than the result and outcome that is achieved, and in this digital enabled market it is more important than ever to align the business to the desired successful customer outcomes.
According to Robertson it led to “a complete redevelopment of BMW’s digital world, the physical experience at the dealership, and how our people interact with customers in the sales process.” Looking at next practice in organizations such as Apple and Disney, BMW created a new role in its dealerships—the product genius. The BMW product genius is a non-commissioned expert who invests as long as it takes to help shoppers with their choices. “The product genius is not encumbered by the sale process and is not motivated to sell a car,” Robertson responded. “His motivation is customer satisfaction.”
According to BMW, product geniuses are appearing at dealerships in France, the United Kingdom, China and the Netherlands before finally arriving in the United States.
“The objective here is to better support customers with in-depth product knowledge as well as enabling the customer to better utilize and configure products in accordance with their particular needs,” said BMW in a statement. “As the product genius needs to be mobile, he or she will be equipped with a state-of-the-art Information Management System on a tablet device, allowing, for example, product configuration and in-depth explanation of features supported by visuals and films.”
Robertson made an observation that applies to most business ventures in today’s digital economy: “What we have done in the past is definitely, definitely, definitely, not good enough for the future.”