Mercedes-Benz intends to make its new flagship S-Class live up to founder Gottlieb Daimler’s famous credo that the brand be “the best or nothing.” Automotive News reports that the blessing of carte blanche has come down from CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA Steve Cannon, who has delegated to dealers $2,500 of buttering-up cash per buyer to ensure that every 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class owner is fully contented.
The so-called MB Select program launched when the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class first went on sale in September, with the intention of raising the bar on the German automaker’s standard for customer service and satisfaction. Dealers are free to address customer care issues immediately and without oversight.
“If we are communicating that this is the best car in the world, what do we do if something goes wrong? It could be warranty or not,” Cannon told Automotive News.
Although the program is expected to cost the company a few million dollars, Cannon sees it as an investment in customer loyalty and brand prestige.
In one instance, a customer was upset that his designer sunglasses did not fit in the S-Class sunglass compartment. While this sounds like a frivolous complaint, Mercedes-Benz happily coughed up $150 on a pair of suitably-sized Ray-Bans to rectify the inconvenience.
Even the smallest gesture appears to have paid off dividends at one Mercedes-Benz dealership, where the check engine light flipped on as S-Class owner drove off the lot. A basic software adjustment fixed the problem quickly, but the dealer bought the customer a gift card to a nice restaurant as an apology for the inconvenience. “That customer was so thrilled he came in the next day and bought an SL[-Class roadster] off the showroom floor,” said Cannon.
The MB Select program is also available for the CLA-Class, with a smaller $1000 limit for 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 buyers. With about 80 percent of CLA buyers joining Mercedes-Benz as conquests from other brands, Cannon sees it as a major priority to justify their decision. Part of that justification is a degree of effort and commitment to customer satisfaction that will “cement them for life,” he said.
Mercedes-Benz shows some serious business savvy with this recent strategy. Customers could respond very well to the company’s offer to smooth out minor issues like small parking-lot-dents with quick fixes and gestures that show it is willing to go the extra mile. The MB Select program is a smart investment to communicate to customers new and old a sense of ownership and belonging to the storied Mercedes brand.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class costs $93,825 after destination charges, compared to the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA’s $30,825 price tag.