What Hyundai did to tune up its customer service approach

Automotive brand soars up the customer service excellence charts after overhauling its customer experience approach and intelligence

Paul Jenzen, Hyundai
Paul Jenzen, Hyundai

Hyundai Motor Company Australia has accelerated its way from ninth to second position in the ranks of Australian automotive companies for service after overhauling its customer experience approach.

Senior customer experience leader, Paul Jenzen, shared details on what it’s taken to lift the car company’s CX game with 50 customer and marketing leaders at CMO’s recent Melbourne breakfast, ‘Creating More Intelligent Customer Connections’.

Hyundai sells about 100,000 vehicles annually across a 170-store franchise network. It also services more than 400,000 unique customers per annum, with service making up as much as half a dealer’s revenues. 

Sitting in ninth place back in 2010 in the annual JD Power Australia Customer Service Index for automotive, it was clear more needed to be done to recognise service as an important component of the lifecycle experiences of a Hyundai car owner, Jenzen said.

“In automotive, there is huge investment going into the demand generation for vehicle sales, and that’s pretty much where most budget sits,” he said. Hyundai’s CX department consists of CRM, service experience and customer care teams.

“In service, we only have an opportunity once per year when customers are in-store to make an impression. It’s tough when you’re servicing a car – as important as it is, it’s not a fun purchase, you can’t see what has been done. It costs money. Someone once described service to me as a hiccup in your day because it’s often an inconvenience.

“The real challenge is improving that experience, making it easier, more convenient and better value, and relating that value back to the ownership experience.”

Jenzen pointed out Aussies tend to keep their cars for seven years, meaning stores get 15 minutes a year for seven years to “keep people enthused and attached to our brand all the way through to the next purchase”.

“If you’re not doing well in that space, you won’t sell the next car. It’s important to get it right.”

Four years ago, Hyundai decided to actively change its CX approach and brought in InMoment’s customer intelligence platform. The former bespoke research platform had been built by a boutique agency, making it expensive, slow to update and restrictive in terms of feedback.

It was also clear Hyundai customers wanted specific things, such as easier booking, which it needed to address. Previously, the only way to book in a car for servicing was over the phone. Other criteria identified included improved digital touchpoints and value incorporating transparent pricing, plus more communications around how servicing is progressing and more convenient, friendlier service.

At Hyundai’s end, it was vital to have automated dispatch of customer surveys via email and SMS, a responsive survey design so it could run different surveys by department, and real-time text analytics.

“Text analytics is a huge part of what we do. Numbers can only tell you so much; we wanted to have voice of customer coming through to dealers in a more meaningful way,” Jenzen said. “We also wanted real-time alerts to recognise any problems but also to promote staff success.”

Connected customer experiences and scoring

Hyundai maintains a Siebel-based CRM platform with a wealth of customer data. Having connected this to the InMoment solution, Jenzen said his team is able to attribute activity back to CX measures, such as whether people are engaging with emails, what they do online, their personas, and how satisfied they are with the shopping experience.

One way text analytics has specifically helped the service experiences team is by sharing customer feedback where they’ve been delighted by a staff member in-store.

“There's a risk of using the stick with CX programs and punishing people for not doing the right thing, and we wanted to change that,” Jenzen commented. “Today, we’re getting at least four positive comments to a negative one. We also wanted prioritised actions - many service managers and not traditionally trained business people or marketers. So we try to give them tips and tricks on what to do next to make improvements.”  

As part of the transformation, Hyundai opted against Net Promoter Score (NPS) in favour of a customer satisfaction (CSAT) metric. “We knew NPS wasn’t right - if we gave store staff just a single number, our concern was they wouldn’t know enough about the experience to be able to act on that,” Jenzen explained. 

The CSAT score focuses on the eight selected moments of truth in the service experience, such as booking, drop-off and timing and cleaning.

“Booking is a big one. We only had phone booking five years ago, so we invested in a technology to build an online booking platform, with pricing and details of each service included in it, then we could link back to how satisfied those customers who booked online are versus those booking via the phone,” Jenzen said. “We’re up over 50 per cent in a single year in online bookings, so it’s gaining traction.”

Jenzen said there are other specific initiatives driving a change in customer satisfaction, especially with female customers. 

Open comments are vital to gaining insight, Jenzen said. It’s also where incremental improvements can be found.

“Our stores are averaging 90 across the network, so we’re working on finding that 1 per cent improvement and that’s where the text comes in. It often gives you the context and meaning around the score,” he said.  

“In the InMoment platform, there’s a tool that allows comments to be measured. If someone says something non-specific like ‘good’, we can ask them to provide more detail, and as they do, there’s a register to show how meaningful and useful the comment is. Since implementing those smarts, we get a lot more valuable text back.”

Understanding value

Having implemented the platform, Hyundai could clearly see the key to CX success was demonstrating value. So it introduced its transparent pricing program, Lifetime Service Plan, where all services on all cars can be quoted across all model vehicles. This means any customer can get a price anytime, available online.

“We have up to 10 years roadside assistance, and we include that annual renewal in the services now,” Jenzen continued. “We also have included satnav map updates when you get a service, and we’ve introduced the digital platform including online booking, plus centralised CRM for our stores.

“We’re also looking to introduce tablets to service departments instead of paper, so that all the insights staff write at the time of service are captured and able to be used again.”  

To encourage buy-in, Hyundai dealers have to achieve a certain customer satisfaction level to receive rewards and recognition.

“We use a lot of customer data in training and we’re also starting to attribute revenue to CX as well,” Jenzen said. “We receive store transactional data and we can calculate the potential lost revenue based on the CX score for people that don’t intend to return. That revenue attribution always gets attention and helps action take place.”

Through CRM, Hyundai dealers can also access next-best action triggers. 

And the work has paid off, with Hyundai ranking second in JD Power’s automotive customer service index in Australia in 2017.

Lessons learnt

A key lesson for Jenzen has been having platform flexibility to give dealers and staff access to insights they want when they want them.  

“Dealers are now self-serving on our VoC platform, they can customise their own reports, and we send a lot of automated and real-time reports too, which help with prioritising actions,” he said. “They can react quickly and get involved in closing the feedback loop as well.

“There is a risk of flat-lining and getting stale, so every year we try and bring our managers together at a conference, where we talk about CX trends, digital, gender and so on,” Jensen added. “We have specialist presenters and we set short-term goals, and dealers share best practices. We also encourage staff to set an action plan to adjust and reassess. It’s also about encouraging stores to not be afraid and try new things. This methodology has been quite successful.”

With the automotive category set to face significant disruption in the next 5-10 years through autonomous, connected vehicles, the challenge Hyundai faces is how to deal with more users than car owners, Jenzen said.

“Car sharing is increasing, and we need to rethink the way we engage with users of vehicles, not just owners,” he said. “We also need to think about how we share these VoC [voice of customer] outcomes with customers. We want to try and externalise more of that for customers and make them part of the journey as well. For example, with feedback flowing into Google reviews or product reviews that are publically visible.”

It’s clear customer moments of truth have become more important for brands and it’s vital Hyundai addresses these to win advocacy, Jenzen concluded.

“We can now attribute back future sales to the service experience, and we have benchmarking data that shows where we were falling down and what the opportunities are,” he said.

“For example, five years ago, we used to book cars in and everyone would arrive at the same time, so you’d end up with queues and no one could park. All of that has changed and we’re now more focused on how customers feel about nuances in the experience. That was a big change, some of those practices had been in place for nearly 30 years.”  

Read more on how brands are improving their customer experience approach:

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