As 2019’s Third Most Valuable Car Brand in the World, BMW, is an innovative German automotive company that combines sports performance with breathtaking design. Our team is interested in understanding the customer journey of BMW customers. We analyzed pain points throughout the journey and looked for opportunities to improve the customer’s experience at critical touchpoints. To provide more customized strategic recommendations, we categorized the market segmentation for BMW into three series and created two distinct personas to illustrate the typical consumers.
In the customer journeys, we concluded key touchpoints include awareness, engagement, evaluation, purchase, and post-purchase. To achieve the personalization goal, we also try to customize them to fit the specific requirements of each persona.
Jessica Sampson is a 30-year-old PR manager living alone in Chicago, IL. Recently promoted, she decides to reward herself with a new car. With a busy schedule, she relies heavily on online shopping to get the products she wants without having to take time to go in-store. Jessica usually acquires product information from social media and her friends. Jessica was triggered to look into the BMW 3 series when she came across some digital advertisements and seeing her friend’s new car. After analyzing Jessica’s customer journey, we found some pain points and opportunities to address them.
In the Evaluation stage, Jessica spends extensive time researching on the web and comes across many technical terms difficult to understand. To help alleviate this challenge, we suggest that BMW can design a user-friendly online tool which helps potential customers find the most suitable car with consideration to their needs, price expectations, location, etc.
In the Purchase stage, Jessica is frustrated by the drastic price range offered by different dealers and dreads having to negotiate for an optimal price. Furthermore, she detests having to travel to and from the dealership for car purchase and car pick-up, which is both time-consuming and a hassle. Thus, BMW can look into providing the option to purchase the car online with a standardized price and deliver the car directly to the consumer’s home in order to compete with the likes of Carvana.com and the fast-growing e-commerce landscape.
In the Post-purchase stage, Jessica uses the “My Car is Born” service to check her order and uses other functions in the BMW Connected App after getting the car. However, she finds that the App is not user-friendly. It takes very long to update vehicle information and the system jams very often. We suggest that BMW collects all the customer feedback from the App store and optimizes the app accordingly. For instance, they can improve the update speed of vehicle information, enhance the remote-control features such as lock and unlock, add safety alerts in the App, and expand the App to iPad and iWatch version, etc. Apart from App optimization, BMW should also improve communication with users by giving them the option to push notifications to keep them informed of updates.
To further enhance customer experience, BMW could also provide some incentives to motivate consumers to complete the customer survey. These incentives could include free trials for some car-related service packages to improve customer experience based on real-time feedback.
Horace’s BMW Journey
Horace Lee, the second persona we built, is slightly older than Jessica and at a different stage of life. He has an established career as the Owner and CEO of a Vineyard and lives in Beverly Hills, CA with his wife and four kids. Horace already owns a BMW X6 that he drives to work daily, but would like to own a sports car he could use as a toy and drive to the golf club on weekends. He is particularly interested in the BMW i8 Roadster because he is a very environmentally conscious individual. As a Vineyard owner, climate change has an unimaginable impact on his crops.
Even though Horace is comparatively more well-off to Jessica, there are still pain points in the customer journey that cannot be solved by wealth. The majority of pain points in Horace’s customer journey appear in the Evaluation stage. Similar to that of Jessica, Horace is also faced with the overwhelming selection of sports cars. Competitors such as Tesla, Porsche and Audi are all releasing appealing electric cars that offer features on par with the BMW i8. Furthermore, BMW only offers two electric cars (i3 and i8) and the i8 is the only sports car in the lineup. The lack of selection is a pain point to Horace. As a CEO on the borderline of a Baby Boomer and Gen X, Horace is not the most adept at using technology. Working at a Vineyard, there is not much need for him to be in touch with technology. Moreover, all his scheduling and technological needs are covered by his secretary. Thus, when it comes to researching new cars, he may not be able to stay up-to-date with the newest car models. His main sources of information are magazines, TV and word of mouth from friends. As a result, he is not able to acquire information instantaneously the way tech-savvy users can through social media or the internet.
To alleviate these pain points in Horace’s customer journey, BMW should consider assigning a designated advisor to him. If BMW were to assign a designated advisor for every one of its high CLV customers, it would ensure that there is someone to attend to all touchpoints of the customer journey. The advisor would be there throughout to answer any questions and provide any assistance needed. To streamline the car-buying process for all customers, BMW could also the less tech-savvy BMW consumers a designated hotline for car purchases over the phone and the option to deliver the car to the consumer’s home. In addition, BMW could capitalize on capturing customer data for less tech savvy users. For instance, there could be a “call to action” ad in the magazine or personalized invitations sent for exclusive BMW events, such as the BMW Championship and other luxury car clubs (Thermal club) for current and potentially high CLV customers. Lastly, the customer journey for this persona could be further enhanced by frequently updating order information through SMS or e-mail.
Overall, there are both similarities and differences for our two personas. In terms of differences, customers with Jessica’s persona strives for time efficiency and tends to explore the touchpoints on their own. It is crucial to improve the Evaluation, Purchase, and Post-purchase stage to ensure customer satisfaction. On the other hand, customers like Horace need a designated advisor who can walk them through the whole journey; providing premium service and personalized recommendation at each stage. In terms of similarities, “Word-of-mouth” is important to both personas. Thus, we suggest that BMW offers more referral incentive programs to all existing car owners. Both parties will benefit by gaining rewards such as free accessories, discounted maintenance fees, etc. and could increase their satisfaction as a result.