2013 Lincoln MKZ
2013 Lincoln MKZEnlarge Photo
The recently-announced Lincoln 24/7 Online Concierge service will launch in early 2013 and will be complimentary and available to prospective customers of all Lincoln products. Although Lincoln is in the very early stages of developing Lincoln 24/7 Online Concierge, the intent is to “win over today’s discerning luxury buyers” by creating and delivering “very personal aspects to the customer experience.”
The Lincoln 24/7 Online Concierge will enable customers to shop around the clock. The service will provide a personalized experience, including live interaction with a highly-trained concierge who can engage with the customer through interactive video. The Lincoln 24/7 Online Concierge is focused on providing a seamless transition between the customer’s online research and their initial dealership visit through:
- A personal, guided walkthrough of all aspects of new Lincoln vehicles, services and competitive comparisons
- A personalized portfolio, logging all customer vehicle preferences, which can then be shared with the customer’s preferred dealer
- The ability for customers to save and access their portfolio information from virtually any platform—iPad, laptop or smartphone
- Full access to the customer’s dealer of choice, customer profile and saved vehicle information
Lincoln is also creating an iPad app for dealer sales personnel to use to walk customers through the next phase of the shopping process.
Plans are also in process to provide live chat and flexible appointment setting. As for what’s beyond the currently envisioned offerings, Lincoln spokesman Timothy Elliot said that integration of the concierge service with Lincoln navigation is something that is being considered, along with other ideas to create more personalized experiences for Lincoln customers throughout the shopping, buying and ownership periods.
As part of its process of reinventing how it interacts with customers, Lincoln is also collaborating with a world-renowned organization of hotel concierges, Les Clefs d’Or, to elevate the Lincoln customer service experience. Les Clefs d’Or is consulting on the new Lincoln Academy, a training program for Lincoln sales and service associates aimed at training them to deliver the same type of personalized service that customers receive at top luxury hotels.
2013 Mercedes-Benz SL Class live photosEnlarge Photo
Mercedes Benz, the first automotive manufacturer to introduce concierge service, introduced it in 1999 on the 2000 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The concierge service was part of the company’s first telematics platform called Mercedes-Benz Tele Aid.
Mercedes-Benz Tele Aid as anchored by automatic collision-type services, SOS, stolen vehicle recovery, roadside assistance and other services. The foundation was really safety and security, but the concierge service which was an add-on option for customers.
Ten years after it was introduced, in 2009 Mercedes-Benz launched its second-generation system called Mercedes-Benz mbrace. The system featured a base offering of mbrace and an optional enhancement of mbrace PLUS.
As of model year 2013, mbrace is now beginning its third generation, called mbrace2, which adds Mercedes-Benz Apps, Internet apps and open browsing features, out first on the 2013 SL Class. With mbrace2, one of differences is the inclusion of cloud-based Internet services into the system as well as opening up the door to a whole new variety of remote access-type features.
Rob Policano, Mercedes-Benz USA product manager, telematics services, said that after the launch of mbrace 2-1/2 years ago, the company saw a spike in the use of concierge that was surprising. “Throughout the first generation, we had a very steady subscriber base, with close to 20 percent of the owner base that had the services available to them chose to keep and use concierge,” said Policano.
That skyrocketed to more than 50 percent retention rate after the launch of mbrace, something Policano said they attribute, in part, to the fact that Mercedes-Benz included a three-month trial of concierge service as part of the cost of the car. “That proved to us the value of trial periods when it comes to connective services,” Policano said.
How customers are using concierge is also revealing. Research conducted over the past year shows:
- 33% use it for restaurant services
- 21% for travel reservations
- 19% for specialty services – general information, odd requests
- 17% for retail assistance – store addresses, phone numbers, hours, etc.
- 10% for event and venue services – movie times, tickets, etc.
Policano said that generational differences showed up in other research the company has done. One of the surprises was that Generation Y – those aged 18 to mid-30s – kept going back to the concierge services.
“Generation Y are really digital natives,” Policano explained. “They don’t remember a day without email. They’re very comfortable with technology and on-demand. We thought they were very hands-on, but they also loved the idea of the concierge. They’re just as interested in this as Boomers.”
Cost for the base mbrace is $280 per year (after a six-month free trial), while mbrace PLUS costs $20 per month (after a three-month free trial concurrent with mbrace). The new Mercedes-Benz Apps is $14 per month. There is a discounted monthly price of $34 for both mbrace PLUS and Mercedes-Benz Apps (in addition to the base mbrace service).
Be sure to check out our review of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL Class for more detailed product information.