How Apple Inspired Lexus, Tesla, and BMW in Customer Care, Service

By Joel Arellano | July 30, 2012
Apple, apparently, is the latest business paradigm. Earlier this year, we posted how Lexus would now greet potential customers with Vehicle Delivery specialists, or VDS, and Vehicle Technologist specialists (VTS). The former would answer standard questions like engine types and pricing, while the latter would cover the latest technologies -- navigation, creature comforts, etc. -- found in the Lexus vehicle. Apple already has similar greeters in its stores. Speaking of stores, electric vehicle automaker Tesla is also emulating Apple by directly selling to buyers. The EV carmaker can do so because it doesn't stock cars on site like traditional automotive dealerships. BMW is the latest to take a bite of the Apple; specifically, the latter's "Genius Bar" concept. Potential customers will be greeted, like in Lexus dealerships, by Product Geniuses. These specially-trained personnel will answer buyer's queries about their BMW vehicle like horsepower and low-end acceleration, or torque. It is BMW tech, though, that the Product Geniuses will especially excel in covering. BMW's infotainment, called i-Drive, developed a reputation of being difficult to use when it was originally introduced. Though BMW has made strides in making i-Drive more user-friendly, such systems continue to have a high learning curve regardless of the automaker. BMW is hoping its Product Geniuses, like Lexus VTSs, will make the technology intriguing instead of frustrating.
The Product Genius is part of what BMW calls its "Future Retail" program which includes BMW "Brand Stores". BMW opened the doors to its first brand store this week in Paris, France. Besides the product geniuses and brand stores, BMW has announced plans to increase its "contact points" with customers with more benefits and services.'s take: It used to be that more comfort features and unique powertrains separated luxury cars brands from the more mainstream ones like Toyota. The well-to-do, though, also consider personalized service as part of the car-buying experience. It will be interesting to see if product experts will help BMW, as well as Lexus and Tesla, to secure more sales. Source: Forbes