There’s a lot more to creating a popular automotive brand than just a terrific line-up of products, especially in the Indian market. So, we look at how Volkswagen India has achieved this rare feat, as it prepares to launch its next potential blockbuster – the Taigun SUV.
It’s no secret that India is one of the most competitive markets in the automotive world, if not the most competitive. What’s interesting, though, is that it has as much to do with the diverse conditions of our country as it has to do with customer preferences. Customer preferences in different regions of the country can be as varied as chalk and cheese. Consequently, there can never be a single formula that works for everyone in the Indian market, apart from giving everyone a free car, but even then, you might run into some unexpected problems.
To cut to the chase, Indian customers, having been deprived of options for many decades, have certainly taken to the habit of weighing every aspect of all available options meticulously before buying a new car. And that’s why it’s not enough for carmakers to have a class-leading product, for there are many more aspects of vehicle ownership that need to be addressed. And in today’s intensely competitive automotive market, these aspects of car ownership have taken the centre stage.
Many challenges of India
In the sub-continent, customs, dialects, and preferences change greatly within a few hundred kilometres, sometimes even less. And to cater to such a wide audience, you need to have the basics in place. For example, with the highly anticipated Volkswagen Taigun, VW is going to offer two engine options and three gearbox options, along with more choices in terms of variants and colour options, and that won’t be the end of it.
And, frankly, that’s the easier part of VW’s new SUVW push in India. Let us explain. Now, VW’s strategy includes designing products for India, customising them for India, and offering a whole lot of options to Indian customers. Naturally then, with the Taigun and its positioning, attracting customers is going to be easy for VW.
So, what’s the difficult part, you ask? Well, the real challenge in the Indian market lies in the way a brand treats its customers after they’ve bought its product. And make no mistake, it can very easily be a deal-breaker for customers. And this is where Volkswagen’s three-pillar approach to customer experience comes in. The three pillars that will define the ownership experience of a Volkswagen customer are Transparency, Accessibility, and a Customer-First approach. To really understand how it marks a mammoth change in terms of treating customers, let’s take a detailed look at all three aspects of VW’s new Sarvottam 2.0 initiative.
Now, it’s true that an unexpected expense can easily disturb the monthly budget of an average family, and therefore it’s always better to be totally transparent about the maintenance cost of your vehicle. Not only does it builds customer trust but also gives customers the freedom to make an informed decision, not to mention the reassurance that they’re in the safe hands of an honest organization.
To make maintenance costs of their products publicly available, VW India has listed them on its website. Now, this makes it easy for customers to get a rough estimate of their expenses before going in for a service. Another great thing about this is that with VW’s One India, One Price promise, regardless of where you’re in India, servicing your vehicle will cost you the same.
Additionally, VW’s workshops are also equipped with a Service Cam facility, which provides customers detailed videos of work performed on their cars straight to their mobile phones. This measure not only convinces the customer that the work they’re being charged for is being done but also adds to their peace of mind.
Accessibility also is an important aspect of vehicle ownership in a vast country like India. Customers expect dealerships, their service facilities, and channels of communications to be easily accessible. And that’s why VW is rapidly working to increase its physical footprint in India. Additionally, and more importantly, it is making smart use of technology to be closer to customers and, thereby, increase accessibility. For example, under the new initiative, VW’s full suite of products – Test Drives, Sales, Service, and even Roadside Assistance – can be accessed by customers through a WhatsApp message to a dedicated 24x7 helpline. At the same time, VW has also introduced its Volkswagen Assistance mobile service fleets, which cover nearly 80% of the country with door-step service facilities, making your VW vehicle’s servicing easier than ever.
Now, selling new cars to customers is not very different from selling them a dream, especially in a country like India where cars are still a luxury and every customer wants the best not just from their vehicle but also in terms of the buying and ownership experiences. And VW’s new Sarvottam 2.0 approach is developing a model that puts the customer right in the middle of the experience. Now, the customer-first approach, together with transparency and accessibility, can potentially bring about a golden period for the VW brand in India. And if everything goes to plan, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if 2021 turns out to be the year of the Taigun.