Published in Automotive

Advanced Analysis of Nissan’s Customer Acquisition and Retention Program Shows Increase in Sales and Service Scores

As an organization, Nissan has pride in their brand and in being innovative when it comes to focusing on and driving their customers’ experience. They strive to deliver a superior experience tailored to customer demographics.

“The brand demographic is younger and ethnically diverse at Nissan,” said Dan Morrow, Senior Manager, Market Intelligence at Nissan. “So, we’re trying to be more innovative and in touch with what our younger customers want and need, and identify how we can build better relationships with them.”

In 2014, and after receiving some less than desirable JD Power & Associates Sales Satisfaction Index Study (SSI) results, the team at Nissan decided that their scores were not reflective of their products, dealers, and employees, and they were not reflective of the types of experiences that their customers deserve.

Nissan Challenges Themselves to Drive Better Experiences

In an effort to connect with their younger customers, and implement new processes to drive better experiences, Nissan decided to utilize digital technology and a tablet interface to lead their sales consultants through the sales process. This led them to launch a sales process program named Nissan Customer Acquisition and Retention (NCAR). NCAR revamped the dealers’ delivery program; the NCAR delivery starts when a customer says, “Yes I’ll take that car”. The process includes getting the vehicle ready for the buyer, by ensuring the vehicle is clean, free of dents, and in perfect working condition.

The other critical component of the program is reviewing the features of the vehicle with the customer, all using the new NCAR application on tablets. Prior to this program, the process was a three-part carbon hard copy paper checklist. The delivery checklist would have features that were not included in the vehicle that the customer was purchasing which was confusing for the customer. The NCAR tablet program replaced this outdated process and made the experience user-friendly, and more collaborative for the dealership and the customer. The vehicle feature review was not only customized for the specific vehicle/ VIN, but customers could also tailor the vehicle training they received from their sales consultant by choosing the specific features they wanted to personally review.

The NCAR tablet pilot program was launched in April of 2015 within the U.S. to 110 dealers. Shortly thereafter, Nissan enlisted MaritzCX to provide advanced analytics on the new program in order to determine its success in raising customer experience (CX) scores. And, given the investment of their program by not only Nissan, but also by their dealers, they wanted to be able to showcase the additional value that they felt would arise from the NCAR tablet program.

Advanced Analytics Help Uncover NCAR Value

In May of 2015, MaritzCX began to drive the analysis of the data Nissan was gathering from their NCAR program. In an effort
to realize and show the value of the new program, the teams immediately created semi-monthly reporting during the initial 10 months of the program, and then revised to monthly updates to show continual improvements.

“We must show return on investment for our initiatives” stated Rick Levitin, Senior Manager, Customer Experience
& Technology, Nissan. “We knew this concept was different, leveraging technology to make such a significant change. Initially, there wasn’t any precedent for showing ROI. That’s where we really needed the MaritzCX team’s help to tell the story of ROI and to show how and why our NCAR program is successful.”

Sales and Service Scores Increase After Looking Under the NCAR Program Hood

As expected, when looking under the NCAR program hood, MaritzCX analysis and reporting showed an immediate and continued increase in delivery of CX scores for dealers utilizing the NCAR program when compared to non-NCAR dealers. What was unexpected was that the analytics from the Owners First survey (MaritzCX’s CX study) revealed that the NCAR program increased almost every individual CX score across all sales for close to every participating dealer. With this data, Nissan senior management decided to launch the NCAR program to Nissan dealerships in the U.S. as quickly as possible.

“We fully expected to impact the logical metrics, such as delivery time, explanation of features, and sales consultant product knowledge. But, with help from the MaritzCX team, we also realized unintended benefits”, said Rick Levitin, Senior Manager, Customer Experience & Technology, Nissan.

The MaritzCX team confirmed that Nissan was on the right track in allowing customers to select features they would like reviewed. It was quickly validated that long amounts of time spent in the delivery process don’t always yield negative scores, and vice versa. The crucial consideration is allowing the customer to drive their process, maximizing the value of whatever time the customer felt was necessary to spend in the dealership.

Another analysis on the NCAR data examined the Sales CX data and the Service CX data (from the MaritzCX transactional CX study) and compared it to the Service CX scores for customers whose sales consultant utilized a tablet vs. customers whose sales consultant did not employ a tablet. All of the Service CX scores were higher for “tablet” sales customers, including overall service satisfaction (+8.5%) and the service experience index (+6.4%). In other words, the effect of the tablet buying process created a “halo” effect on the service experience. Beyond the increase in Service CX, MaritzCX’s deep dive showed that NCAR customers are 14.6 percent much more likely to book service with the dealer and show up for those appointments more often. The deep dive analysis proved that utilizing the tablet during the sales cycle can actually increase a dealership’s service revenue, thus extending the NCAR ROI into Service.

Nissan continues to see additional positive results since their NCAR program inception and roll-out. They’ve seen a 95
point and 3-ranking increase in the JD Power Sales Satisfaction Index Study (SSI) between 2014 and 2016*. And Nissan’s 49% usage of tablets is the highest tablet dealer usage in the automotive industry**.

Two years into the program, MaritzCX continues to provide monthly reports evaluating the effect of the NCAR program on every sales CX measurement by region, dealer, and model. The reporting is used by Nissan Corporate to look for areas of improvement and program expansion, and for the field organization to coach dealers for continued success.

MaritzCX continues to partner with Nissan to identify how it can use research expertise and advanced analytics to ensure Nissan is learning more about their customers’ behavior in an effort to deliver the experiences that every Nissan customer deserves.

*JD Power Sales Satisfaction Index Study between 2014 and 2016
** JD Power 2016 SSI Survey