Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Buick Reaches Out to Golfing Owners

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 29, 2008

members-only.jpg I attended the semi-final round at the Buick Invitational Golf Tournament this past weekend, held at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego (beautiful course!).  It was great fun watching Tiger Woods and other golfers tackling the rugged terrain (and managing the fans).  Something else caught my eye: the VIP tents.

We looked at the usual VIP tents, sponsored by companies for their guests (many of whom were likely valuable customers); is there any way for the average Joe to get into a hospitality area?  The Buick Owner VIP Area provided that luxury, and all you had to do to get in was show your Buick car keys!  Once inside the ropes, you registered as a Buick owner and had access to an area where you could relax.  Additionally, from what I could understand, you also had access to a VIP viewing area on the 18th fairway!  (As I am not a Buick owner, I couldn’t get in to check it out for all of you, and the security person at the ropes couldn’t tell me much… did any of you readers attend this?  Let me know if you were a Buick Owner VIP!)

I would bet that Buick customers were surprised and delighted at this offering.  Plus, the people who were “in” would feel like part of a special community.  What a great way to tell your customers you appreciate them!

Buick has been reaching out to its customers interested in golf in other ways as well.  Through their Buick Clubhouse loyalty program, Buick owners have the opportunity to purchase special tickets to premier golf events.  Their interactive Clubhouse website is actually kind of fun; Tiger Woods invites you to come in, and he prompts you to click on various areas while you are there (must have been fun for him to do!). 

The loyalty program targets new owners, but Buick is also accepting existing customers into the program.  Per an article in Promo magazine, Buick is using this to engage new demographics for their vehicles:

“Buick traditionally has had the highest loyalty in the automotive industry,” (Larry) Peck said. “Our buyer has been older, too. With this program, we are trying to get younger buyers. Golf offers younger, more affluent, more educated consumers. We are trying to reach our demographic through the Internet…and offer a premiere owner experience.”

Proceeds from loyalty program events or merchandise after expenses will benefit the Buick Open Southeast Michigan Charities.

Building Customer Loyalty

What are your customers interested in?  Where do they spend their time?  Understanding customers, their interests, and their needs helps us tailor not just products and services, but also outreach and loyalty programs.  Do your customers want to feel special?  Create a customer recognition program.  Do your customers want to have “access” to your company?  Create a community, with your key execs/programmers/personnel playing a central role.

One of the most important ingredients in building customer loyalty is consistency of customer experience.  Buick needed to make sure an owner’s experience at the Invitational Tournament was a good one in every way possible in order to contribute in a positive way to the brand experience.  The same experiences now need to occur with the Service and Parts department, with Sales managers, with any emails and marketing sent to customers, and basically, in every single customer touch at every dealer.  This requires knowing your customers, coordinating across functional areas internally, as well as collaborating with partners (in this case, the dealerships).

Is that doable?  Yes – with planning.  And flawless execution.  Customers have high expectations.  The companies that can do this have an edge.  Is your company one of them?

(Photo credit: fintastic)

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5 Responses to “Buick Reaches Out to Golfing Owners”

  1. Jay Ehret said

    Becky, I would like to add that in addition to consistency, the customer experience needs some remarkability as well. Buick has done an outstanding job in leveraging Tiger Woods into a remarkable customer experience.

  2. Jay, thank you for chiming in on this! When I think of a customer experience continuum, consistency is the ticket to get in; creating a remarkable experience will set one apart from others who are doing it well, and it is the next level. Best in class companies make the experience remarkable and relevant, based on customer needs and expectations.

    I agree – having Tiger as a spokesperson has been great for Buick. He is very believable and attracts the younger demographic they are seeking.

  3. Bill said

    Becky,

    I also think consistency is important. But how consistent is it for Buick to try and reach a younger audience with a brand that represents a car for an older demographic? I never really bought the idea that Tiger ever drove a Buick – now Nike, I believe. But I think trying to change perceptions is a very rough road to travel down, even for Buick.

    Now, building intrigue and interest by having a members only club could have been a smart move as long as it, as you allude to, is consistent with all of its communication (both spoken and especially perceived).

    Thanks for the post!

  4. Aside from consistency is a good strategy that smoothly combines marketing, customer-loyalty program, advertising, and branding.

    It’s important to take into consideration that customers don’t feel as if they were treated well just so they would return or repeat the business.

    Good post, Becky, keep at it! :)

  5. Bill, thank you for your comments. The consistency I was discussing is more one of customer service and the brand experience. Choosing Tiger as a spokesperson and reaching out to younger people is a strategic decision, and I think Tiger is a great way to do it. It is difficult to change customer perceptions of an “older brand” to a “young brand”, but if anyone can help with that, Tiger is the guy. Appreciate extending the conversation this way, Bill!

    Meikah, you are right, customer service and treating customers well is an important ingredient in the overall experience. Repeat business comes when expectations are met; loyalty and advocacy come often when expectations are exceeded. Thank you for the nice comments! :)

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