Customer Experience Best Practice: Tesla the Disruptive

Tesla has been all over the news and is one of the newest disruptors around. Point in case: this month, Tesla, led by the visionary Elon Musk, established an expressive record: the biggest ever launch for a product totalling more than £10 billion worth of revenue (in reservations for its Model 3).

Musk’s company started in 2003 with its entire business revolving around providing a fully electric car and with free recharge. For years, they were laughed at, and discredited. Until their first model, the Tesla Roadster, hit the American market in 2008. What led to such a success goes far beyond the product: experts report loyalty and advocacy levels that are simply unheard of.

Tesla happens to be a great example of customer experience best practice and how a successful strategy can redefine the state of the art customer experience design.

Tesla rethinks the selling and customer service models

In the automotive industry, carmakers focus on the product and marketing of their products and leave the selling and customer service to their partners. Tesla doesn’t have any reselling partners and its electric cars do not require as much regular maintenance as a traditional car.  More importantly, the retail location is not primarily focused on selling (unlike dealerships) but rather on allowing customers to experience the brand, its philosophy and get a feel for the cars. The differential of Tesla Motors is that it takes ownership of the experience, which, in their case, is a clear customer experience best practice strategy.

When you purchase a Tesla (be it online or in the store), the car will be delivered to you, wherever you want it. Or you could pick it up at the factory and get a free tour of the factory with your friends.

If there are any issues with your car, they’ll pick it up, provide you with a replacement car and repair it – removing the need to bring the vehicle to the repair centre. If the issue is related to its software, the engineers can in many situations update the car, at a distance, during the night and have the customer delighted the next morning. In many instances, car owners were offered spontaneous updates and extra features at no cost. These aspects of the Tesla experience are unique to the carmaker and are excellent examples of their customer experience best practice through actions in the Expectations and Time & Effort Pillars of customer experience. No wonder customers are loyal and more than 300,000 people reserved their Model 3 (launching in 2017, some people will have to be willing to wait at least a couple of years before being proud owners of a Tesla car)!

A full service approach

Tesla goes beyond offering a great product and exceptional support around it. Their commitment to their vision is so strong they actually have put together a comprehensive network of recharging stations across the United States and Europe. Its charging stations are conveniently located on the highway and near hotels, shopping malls and restaurants they partner with.

The real learning from the approach Tesla takes to the network can help shape many customer experience best practice strategies.

The network is necessary for Tesla to sell its fleet of cars. But beyond that, the tech-company offers their customers a clear trade-off: free or fast. The supercharger offers a 50% battery charge in only 20 minutes – and is free for life on its Model S (to the best of our knowledge, it hasn’t been announced whether this will be carried on for the Model 3). But what if 20 minutes is too long for you? Provided you’re willing to pay the equivalent price of a regular gasoline tank fill, you will be able to exchange your car’s battery for a new, fully charged, one. The time it takes? Reportedly, 90 seconds.

The reason their strategy is so critical

Tesla is in the enviable position of defining what customers will come to expect from the automotive industry. This will ultimately end up being reshaped according to their own strengths and ambitions; a strategy to which competitors will have to abide by. This is true customer experience best practice.

For more customer experience insight, visit the KPMG Nunwood CEM blog.