Excellence in Customer Experience: The Transparent Factory
The automotive industry has bounced back from the 2008 crisis by incorporating the core principles of customer experience into its wide array of corporate identities. After purchasing Chrysler, Italian automaker Fiat decided to take risks by building up the “showroom” experience. Fiat’s new U.S. stores will have showrooms with “clean, Italian” design, in-store cafes and more than 500,000 different feature and color combinations among the Fiat 500’s three different trim levels. Kia made similar strides in the mobile market. Partnering with Pandora, an online radio streaming service, and web magazine Zinio, Kia advertised the Soul and Sorrento models.
Of all the top car manufacturers, however, Volkswagen stands out for its innovative “transparent factory” in Dresden, Germany.
Before the transparent factory, the car-purchasing experience was hardly considered a tourist destination. Volkswagen changed the name of the game – which is all the more impressive considering the change-averse legacy systems, people and culture.
The transparent factory looks like a modern museum, an art gallery and a five-star hotel. When customers walk inside and “check-in” with Volkswagen staff, they are faced with an automotive factory with walls made entirely of glass and floors made of Canadian maple. Car parts are sorted into containers, which are seamlessly guided by an impressive set of invisible magnets. Employees wear all white as they operate on cars like surgeons or master craftspeople from portable digital workstations.
Fiat and Kia’s marketing strategies are innovative, but Volkswagen is the only car manufacturer that invites customers to a bona fide tourist destination where customers participate in the process of building their future cars. Notably, several customers from the United Arab Emirates traveled all the way to Dresden just to pick up their cars at the transparent factory. Volkswagen staff actually let the UAE customers screw together the car parts that would eventually become their purchase.
How is your customer experience changing the game for your industry?