I realised this yet again, when I was invited to the Hexa Experience Centre recently in Bangalore.
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This was an event run by Tata Motors to promote their new SUV Tata Hexa. I was invited as a member of the blogging community – IndiBlogger. I also happen to be on the verge of looking for a new car for myself. So, on a hot Christmas day, I found myself driving to the Hexa experience centre.
First things first. I did love the car and the off-road experience of the car. I would have really loved to experience the off-road version by driving myself, but i understand their concerns and only chauffeuring customers on the off-road track. The car was extremely stable, sturdy and drivable across all kinds of terrain. I think Tata Motors could potentially have a hit on their hands, if they do everything else well.
It is well known that having a great product doesn’t guarantee market success. Its everything else that you do with the product in the market that determines the success of the product. It is elements like pricing, positioning, customer acquisition, customer service, managing the expectations of the right kind of customers, etc.
I would like to share my opinion based on my personal experience at the Hexa Experience Centre and also share my views on what could they have done instead. Let me share my experience in terms of what was good and what could have been better.
Little Things Done Well:
- Taking Care of the Kids: The experience centre was not just about experiencing the car. They had a play area where children could play, so that the parents could explore the car in peace. This is such a simple thing and goes unnoticed when done well, but could be a big hassle if not done well at all. Children could at times get cranky and demand attention – exact same thing that the brand wants on their product. So, by creating a space where the kids could play by themselves, Tata Motors created the option for the parents to experience the car with or without their children – but with full attention.
- Taking Care of the elderly: They also had a lot of chairs around, where parents of their customers could simple sit down and listen to some live music, eat or have some beverage. This again gives the opportunity for the customers to give full attention to the product at hand and not worry about anything else.
- Taking Care of the un-interested Spouse: It is not very uncommon to find that only one of the spouse is most interested in the car, its specifications and finer details of the car. The other spouse is only interested in the comfort that the car provides them and some features which are basic necessities. By the virtue of being a part of the large Tata group, they were able to bring in interesting products from their retail businesses to the experience centre – we had Chroma with interesting mix of electronic gadgets, Tanishq with the Mia brand of jewellery, Tata Global beverages with their options of beverages. This created opportunities for the group companies to create at least brand awareness and at most get some sales. This also provided the spouse not interested in the technical specs of the car to go around and spend sometime (window) shopping while the spouse interested in the technical specs get deep into it, with complete attention.
- Design of the Off-road experience: The way the track was laid for the off-road experience was very thoughtful and made sure that the customers experienced the biggest strengths of Hexa – stability, sturdiness & drivability in all kinds of off-road conditions.
What could have been better:
- Registration: I had already registered via IndiBlogger and was hoping to have a smooth way in and out. However, I was informed that I had to register on the spot. Again. This was the first little thing that Tata Motors could have been done differently. Since I was already registered and had a code from IndiBlogger, they could have skipped the registration for me again. This is something that i had expected as a customer and so by not doing this, they already fell short of my expectation. Once the registration was completed, I was asked to first take a token for the off-road & on-road driving experience. At a different spot. When I went there, I was told that I would have to wait for about 45 mins to get my chance to experience the off-road drive and about same time to experience the on-road experience. Now, anyone who visited the centre was there to experience off-road and/or on-road drive of the car. So, it would have been very simple to avoid queuing up at two different places. Even better would have been to get people to pick the time they would like to experience each of the experiences (off-road & on-road) online or while doing the off-line registrations. By doing this you are setting up the right expectations, avoid building up queues at different places and also allow the customers to experience everything else that they had put together.
- Digital Experience: The digital experience of the car was lame. It was just point and click animations, which explained the different features of the car. I did not have to be there in person to check that digital experience. What would have been better would be to create a virtual reality app, that allowed me to simulate the feeling of sitting inside the car and even play a racing game or a driving experience of the car. When you are selling a premier product, the experience needs to be premier as well.
- Parting Ways: Once I experienced the car, there was no one from Tata Motors who connected with me to ask me about what i thought of the experience and if I am interested in a follow-up conversation. Even if I am not planning to buy the car, could I give a feedback (in the form of a video or a tweet) about the car. Here was a prospective customer and all that the Tata Motors team wanted to do was to give you the on-road and off-road experience of the car and pack you off. Not a good idea.
Aside from building a great product, Tata Motors also needs to understand it is equally, if not more, important to design a great experience for their customers under which they experience the product. The metaphor that comes to mind here is that, the entire thing needs to be thought of as a staged theatre production with the customer playing the part of the Hero or the protagonist.