Protecting Customers' Interests

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
2013 Customer Champion Hyundai's Barry Ratzlaff makes it a point to interact with customers and learn from what they're saying.

Today's customers are interacting with companies in various ways. However, they expect the same great service at every single touchpoint with an organization. Delivering this seamless experience is a necessity for a great customer experience.

For Hyundai, this means making sure that dealers, which are many times the first point of contact, are effectively communicating with customers. In doing so, they should be supported by the company's website, the smartphone app, and the contact center, notes Barry Ratzlaff, the company's executive director of customer contact, Blue Link and service business development. This requires close collaboration between different teams, including HMA marketing, Customer Connect, the Blue Link team, and Hyundai dealers. Ratzlaff makes sure of this by having two people from the customer connect team responsible for all content, including FAQs on the owner website, information in the Owner Car Care App, and details given by the contact center. They also work with other groups to develop "how to" videos.

Close collaboration across the organization helps simplify and enhance customer relationships, an essential element in delivering a great experience that is at the core of what Ratzlaff does. Information is shared through meeting forums with the marketing and quality departments while Seibel CRM allows Hyundai to route specific customer needs to case agents or dealers. For example, conversations with customers revealed that some admitted confusion pertaining to the maintenance schedules of their vehicles. This insight led to the launch earlier this year of the Hyundai Assurance Connected Care powered by Hyundai's Blue Link Telematics Platform, which proactively sends customers alerts to let them know their vehicles are due for service. "They don't need to worry about it," Ratzlaff notes. Customers can also contact Hyundai directly from their vehicles, even automatically alerting the call center when the airbags deploy if the car has been in an accident through Hyundai's Blue Link system that is connected to the contact center, sending key information like the vehicle's location. Separately, drivers can get emergency assistance at any time by pressing the SOS button on the inside mirror, for example when needing roadside assistance or if they need help seeking an emergency authority or if they're lost. The project, which started rolling out in 2011, was Ratzlaff's brain child and a point of pride for the executive as part of his goal to simplify interactions with customers and make them transparent.

Since Ratzlaff joined Hyundai in 2006, he has contributed regularly to enhancing the auto manufacturer's customer experience, solidifying its reputation to be a customer-centric organization, leveraging its focus on customer experience and product quality as a differentiator. As the person who oversees multiple customer-facing units within Hyundai, Ratzlaff's job revolves around interacting with customers and learning from what they're saying. One innovative way is through the Hyundai Think Tank, an invitation-based forum where customers can share feedback. The automaker has just launched Hyundai Reviews, an online tool that allows customers to rate interactions with individual dealers, which are then shared on the review site SureCritic and which dealers can also share on their own websites. This resonates with Hyundai's promise to be transparent with customers and to protect their best interests.

Earning customer trust is not an easy task, but it starts with a simple process. "Be transparent," Ratzlaff stresses. In order to deliver on this promise, Ratzlaff makes sure his team treats customers as partners, having human conversations that steer clear of fancy or complicated language.

In order to deliver on Hyundai's brand promise, Ratzlaff works closely with the Customer Connect, the Blue Link team, service satisfaction, marketing, quality planning, and the 823 Hyundai dealers to deliver a positive customer experience. "We are a lean organization and this leads to collaboration," he says. Different teams are currently working hand-in-hand to enhance the company's new website, set for launch at the beginning of 2014.

Part of Ratzlaff's success results from conversing directly with all customer-facing staff members across North America. In fact, he delivers inspirational training and coaching to these employees and travels across the country helping them understand the Hyundai way, culture, values, and customer experience goals. He also makes sure that dealers are well trained to help customers with any issues that arise. Following a recent recall, the company embarked on an additional round of training to make sure dealers were well equipped to manage customers' inquiries about the recall. These efforts lead to improved customer satisfaction scores despite the recall.