10 Customer Experience Lessons From Tesla

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Forbes.com

February 8, 2019

By Blake Morgan

Most relationships with companies are transactional, however when it comes to Tesla owners and their cars, something is different. Tesla owners genuinely want Tesla to be successful. Tesla owners are invested in the success of the company. When I spoke with a Tesla Service Manager who wanted to remain anonymous, he told me that Tesla owners will get upset if something with the car is broken, because they want to see Tesla succeed, and they always believe Tesla is capable of the best. Tesla, once questioned, is now on the up and up. Tesla has had two profitable quarters back to back. Tesla has proven it is no longer a curiosity, but a car company that's here to stay. Not only is Tesla a sought-after brand that consumers are proud to drive, but other auto makers are now trying to get a piece of the electric car market. At the auto show in 2018 every other company created their version of the Tesla. Customers love the sleek cars and the experience they have with the company—for the most part. However, Tesla hasn’t been immune to problems but they have maintained a customer-focus as they've built out the brand. We can all learn from Tesla's journey and I've outlined ten highlights of what Tesla does well when it comes to customer experience. Here are 10 customer experience lessons we can learn from Tesla.

1. A good experience creates loyal customers

Tesla has the most loyal customers of any car company with an overall satisfaction rating of 90%. A staggering 80% of customers buy or lease another Tesla for their next car. Some customers were even willing to wait years to get their Model 3s. One of the reasons for that is Tesla’s customer experience. From the very beginning of the car-buying process, customers realize Tesla is different. The company controls everything about the journey and isn’t pushy with its sales. It wants customers to experience the brand. Focusing on customer experience has created an army of loyal Tesla customers.

2. Own the customer experience

One of the reasons Tesla stands out from the competition is that it does everything on its own, from production to sales. Most other car companies partner with dealerships to sell and service their cars, which puts customer experience in the hands of a third party. Tesla’s customer-first focus comes through in every aspect of the experience because the company controls the messaging and relationship from start to finish. Because everything from the initial test drive to follow-up maintenance is done by the same company, customers can depend on a quality, consistent experience.

3. Be mission-focused

Tesla describes itself as more than just a car company. Its purpose is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” Customers can tell that Tesla exists to do more than just sell cars. Having a strong mission makes employees more engaged and dedicated to the cause, which encourages them to deliver a better customer experience. Customers enjoy being part of something bigger and helping the environment.

4. Think through the entire customer journey

Customer experience doesn’t end after a purchase is made. Customers still interact with the product regularly, which impacts their view of the company and its service. Tesla puts itself in the shoes of its customers by thinking through the journey from start to finish. This is especially important because an electric Tesla is unlike any other car on the road. Tesla built a huge network of recharging stations across the United States and Europe to make it easy for drivers to charge their cars on the go. Companies that consider customer needs after a sale create a high-quality customer experience.

5. Be honest and transparent

Tesla’s challenges taught the importance of being honest and transparent through the entire customer experience. Many customers who pre-ordered the Model 3 were discouraged to have their delivery dates pushed back because of manufacturing issues. Soon, customers began seeing backlogs of Model 3s sitting at assembly plants and wondered why they hadn’t received their cars. Instead of hiding behind the problem, Tesla learned to be honest about its challenges. Many customers who tweeted at the company even received personal responses from Elon Musk with honest updates on the situation. Customers are more willing to put up with delays and challenges if they understand what’s really happening.

6. Experience is as important (or more!) than product

Tesla stands out with its uniquely designed product and amazing features. However, a great product isn’t enough to make a successful company. In order to continually grow, companies need to focus on delivering amazing long-term experiences. Eventually, the luster of a shiny new product will wear off, and customers are left with their experience—for better or for worse.

7. Be consistent in your messaging

One of the biggest factors in a great customer experience is being able to get the same information no matter how a customer contacts the company. Some of the biggest complaints of new Tesla owners come from the distribution and delivery process. Many customers reported getting contradictory information from different Tesla employees. In many cases, customers were given outdated contact information for their sales reps. A consistent message from every department and employee helps customers stay confident in the company and have a clearer and more enjoyable experience.

8. Be available to customers

When customers have questions or concerns, they want resolution right away—especially for a large purchase. One of the biggest concerns of Tesla customers was not being able to get in contact with the right people after their car was delivered. Being available to customers means creating a strong omnichannel experience that puts resources in all the channels customers want to use to contact the company.

9. Focus on digital

Modern customers often start their customer journey online. That means that digital provides customers their first impressions of the brand. Tesla stands out right away with a strong digital presence. Customers can get all the information in one place and are empowered through the digital experience. Instead of being pushed into a sale, they are given information to make their own choices.

10. Provide self-service options

Customers don’t want to wait to get in contact with brands. They want to be able to get answers on their schedule. After test driving a car, potential Tesla customers are sent a link so they can configure their car and learn about pricing. Instead of wasting time with unnecessary sales pitches, Tesla gives customers the information to make their own decisions. That matters to customers—73% of customers say valuing their time is the most important thing companies can do to provide great service.

There’s no question Tesla has loyal customers, and a large reason for that is its strong focus on customer experience. Even with its bumps in the road, Tesla shows that investing in customer experience and the entire customer journey leads to big rewards.

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