CFO World

Executive Connections: Experience is the new brand

Volkswagen CCO Jason Bradshaw talked experience, employee and customer, at the CMO event in Sydney
Jason Bradshaw, Volkswagen Group Australia

Jason Bradshaw, Volkswagen Group Australia

Experience is the new brand, and customer and employee experience are vital for the continued success of any business. 

Speaking at CMO’s Executive Connections event in Sydney last week, Jason Bradshaw, chief customer and marketing officer of Volkswagen Group Australia, said experience has such an impact on loyalty that marketing is a natural subset of this. He noted companies with highly engaged employees outperform competitors by about 147 per cent.

“Any company in Australia today can improve their customer experience, but sustaining improvement is 100 per cent reliant on the experience of your team members,” Bradshaw said. To do this, he said, organisations need to harness technology to enable the success of their teams. 

“People empowered though leadership and culture, combined with processes enabled through technology, is how to have success from a customer and employee experience point of view," Bradshaw said. “This is not just nice to have, it has a tangible impact on the bottom line.” 

Volkswagen has spent the last few years amping up its employee and consumer engagement with apps using AI and machine learning. For example, the group implemented Salesforce Social Studio and Einstein Analytics last year, as well as advanced text analytics across the brand’s social platform. 

This comes off the back of rolling out Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Community Cloud more than two years ago. These have been integrated to inform Volkswagen's CX portal for dealers and HQ. 

As previously reported by CMO, Volkswagen has also an established CX portal to deliver real-time insight into customer experiences across various touchpoints powered by the Qualtrics XM Platform, available to both dealers and brand employees. 

Most recently, Volkswagen launched a virtual reality (VR) experience so customers can get behind the wheel and have a drive in one of its vehicles without going anywhere.

“Experience is the new brand. No marketing campaign can convince you about the thrill of driving more than getting behind the wheel,” Bradshaw said. “So the VR experience has been very popular."

And despite saying he would never implement a chatbot, Bradshaw is now is looking at implementing an internal chatbot for team members so they can be served up the information they need, faster.

“We are looking at installing a chatbot for our own team because our customers and employees are demanding that channel for routine enquiries via established channels," he said. “The thing to remember about using technology to enable processes is it doesn’t have to be big and customer facing to make a difference.”

Measures of success

Bradshaw went on to say customers and employees measure their experience in the same way: Success, ease, and connection. 

“We all want to be successful in our careers, and as consumers. We all want things to be easier, which has led to the convenience revolution. If you make it just one per cent easier than customers expect, they will feel rewarded,” he said. 

“And we all crave emotional connection. Every single brand today is trying to connect with customers on an emotional level. As we become more disconnected because of machines, people are looking for an emotional connection in other ways. AI can help deliver this, but it is not the be all and end all.” 

As an example, Bradshaw said Volkswagen has launched on online training platform for its team and now uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to help team members find the job best suited to them across the group. 

“Our VR training app uses headsets so new team members can interact with virtual customers in the first week on the job,” he continued. “We also launched 'I AM Volkswagen' with a view to changing the culture within existing team members and recruiting the best people. This app uses NLP to help candidates find a job across the Volkswagen network that is right for them. 

“We are also starting to use video applications instead of a traditional written CV. We can then use AI to analyse it to connect them to the job they are best suited for. In this way, we can fast track and safeguard our culture."

All of these efforts go a long way towards building engaged team members - the foundation for attracting anyone to the brand, Bradshaw said.

"The moment our customer provides us with feedback at one of our various touchpoints, the team member in the dealership has that feedback. We also get the aggregate data at management level, which can tell us in seconds what our biggest issue is. The training department can then deploy fast training modules to our network," he added. 

“All this is making a significant contribution to our success. Those dealerships that meet the customer and employee metrics outperform our national profit average by almost two times. Your employees deliver the experience customers remember.”

Read more of CMO's reports into building employee engagement:

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