A good friend of mine always starts a conversation with the words “You will not believe what happened to me today”. Well, today it’s me delivering that routine. A tale of Digital Marketing and Customer Experience. But in a bad way….
I’ve been think for quite a while now about selling by beloved car. In times like these a sports car is deemed inadequate. Zeitgeist, Tough luck. But that’s not really it. It’s more the feeling that I’m not really living up to the car anymore. Two hours every day in traffic jams on Mittlerer Ring. You have to let the „horses“ run, too. That’s no longer possible in Munich. Ulf Poschardt from „Die Welt“ newspaper probably knows what I mean. So I have decided, with heavy hearts, to get the car valued. Where? On „wirkaufendeinauto.de“ of course. And that was the beginning of a tragedy…
Most of you know that wirkaufendeinauto.de is the end user brand of Auto1 Group. These guys are the secret stars of the German Start-Up scene. Seven years after Auto1 was founded, the company is valued at 2.9 billion euros, has 4200 employees in 30 countries and trades 1500 vehicles a day via its Internet platforms. Softbank alone has invested 1bn EUR in Auto1 (source: capital.de). The are the „category killer“ of the used cars market. So these guys must be the superstars of Digital Marketing and deliver a superb Customer Experience, right?
Drowning in junk mail – Is that Digital Marketing?
So in a weak moment, sometime at the end of August 2018, I sat down and registered the data of my vehicle on the wirkaufendeinauto.de website. Since that day 16 and a half months have passed. During this time I have received 156 emails from wirkaufendeinauto.de. That is an average of 2.5 emails per week. I was surprised when I just counted them. I thought it had been a lot more. It felt like I received an email from them every day. These guys have taken Marketing Automation truly to a new level. Aren’t there rules in marketing psychology or elsewhere that say that too much advertising penetration does the exact opposite of what you originally intended?
Reminder orgy or Digital Marketing meets Customer Experience
And now I decided to take the bold and final step. The presentation of the vehicle. I chose a location in Munich and made an appointment online. Promptly I got a confirmation „thank you very much for booking the free expert assessment“ and also a list of documents I should bring along. Two days later I got another reminder: „only two days left until your free expert assessment appointment“. Then this morning the final request not to forget the date: „tomorrow is your assessment date with us, we look forward to seeing you“. Well then, I thought to myself, let’s see how it goes.
Customer Experience – It all goes downhill from here …
It didn’t go well. Actually, it didn’t go at all. Because I received a call from wirkaufendeinauto.de the evening before the assessment. And you won’t believe what the call center agent tells me.
You don’t have an appointment tomorrow. Please don’t show up for the assessment as we won’t have time for you.
wirkaufendeinauto.de call center agent, the night before the appointment
I was dumbfounded. WTF? I received three reminders and now they tell me I don’t have an appointment? How does that work? The call center agent goes on to tell me that I merely have a confirmation for an appointment request – no actual confirmation for the appointment. Well, well. I’m no lawyer, but „thank you very much for booking the free expert assessment“, „only two days left until your free expert assessment appointment“ and „tomorrow is your assessment date with us, we look forward to seeing you“ sound a lot like a confirmation of an actual appointment to me. This is when Customer Experience meets Digital Marketing in the used cars market.
So what happened?
Did I just experience a glitch or what? I wanted to know. So I spoke with the one and only true expert on appointment management software, Timify’s lead software engineer Razvan Gherghina. Apparently the problem occurred when I tried to change the appointment time. I had opened the WKDA calender tool but then received a call on my cell at the same time. I never went back to make a change. But I didn’t close the tool. So Razvan tells me that apparently the „ticket had expired“. Since the appointment was never closed by me, a flaw in WKDA’s software canceled the appointment alltogether. That is what happened to me. WKDA couldn’t explain this. They simply didn’t understand why the appointment was gone.
What do we learn from this?
First of all, customer experience extends across all channels. Email newsletters, while sent frequently, should not be sent every other day. Appointment scheduling is key. Apparently your friends at wirkaufendeinauto.de have serious issues in their software. You’ll get that when you decide to create every tool yourself instead of purchasing SAAS tools available on the market. TIMIFY could have probably saved the day. And lastly, call center skills. I have to admit, the young chap who called me delivered a five-star performance. He didn’t blink once in the face of all the „love“ I threw at him. At least they seem to have decent training on that end. So when Customer Experience meets Digital Marketing – in used cars or any other market – you gotta get it right.