MATT CAMPBELL April 13, 2012
Japanese luxury brand will employ staff to teach buyers how to use their car’s gizmos more effectively.
Gizmos and gadgets can be a headache – but Lexus thinks it can help solve some of the curlier in-car tech queries its buyers may have by mimicking Apple’s “genius bar” concept.
The Japanese luxury brand’s US arm is planning on rolling out a series of help desks across its dealer network, each with a dedicated specialist employed to help buyers solve any problems they may have when attempting to adjust any of their car’s infotainment or electronics systems.
“It’s like the Apple Genius Bar concept. We’ll be dedicated to helping the customer understand the advanced technology of the new vehicles,” Lexus US general manager, Mark Templin, told Forbes.com.
The move is expected to see a 20 per cent increase in employment in Lexus showrooms, with Forbes.com reporting that about 2400 employees will be trained to become product “geniuses”.
One of the driving forces behind the move was the insistence of buyers being able to show off their car’s techno-goodies to their friends and family, according to Vincent Salisbury, training manager of Lexus College, the brand’s internal product education arm.
“This makes it more fun for them,” Salisbury said. “They can go: ‘I’ve got this new luxury car, and see all the great things it can do!’”
Lexus Australia corporate marketing manager Peter Evans told Drive that the program could be rolled out in Australia, but admits the size of the US market makes it a far more viable exercise than it would be here.
“They have so many salespeople, the dealerships are so big and the throughput is so high that they do need almost their own live-in product trainer or guru or genius in the dealerships,” Evans says. “It’s something that we’re aware of, and it’s something that we will follow with some interest.”
Evans says the brand currently offers three different types of product training in Australia: the first involves an initial run-through during the handover process when you buy the car; the second is one that allows the buyer to set a time at their home or office to run through the car’s features; and the third is a more advanced familiarisation with the car after its first service.
“All of these steps reflect the increased complexities of the products, the increased subtleties, the growth of multimedia, phone compatibility, syncing them et cetera – there’s a lot more involved in handing over a car today then there was 20 years ago,” he says.
Lexus is repeatedly ranked as the number one car brand in the US for customer satisfaction, according to JD Power’s annual surveys. We look forward to seeing if this initiative helps the brand retain its ranking.