Hyundai Motor India announced its “Hyundai Mobility Membership Programme” earlier this month. Hyundai noticed that customer interaction with the brand saw a steady decline after vehicle delivery and drops further after the expiration of the warranty period. Hyundai claims that with this new initiative, it aims to maintain the interaction with its customers, even after having sold the vehicle to them to create life long customers. With the initiative, Hyundai aims to allow all its customers who are apart of the programme special offers that make their day-to-day lives much easier. The ultimate goal for Hyundai is to create brand loyalty and bring customers back to the showroom eventually. If you wish to know more about the programme, click here.
The programme may not sound exciting at first glance, but a closer inspection revealed that Hyundai is in it for the long run. We caught up with Brijesh Gubbi Suresh – Assistant Vice President and Group Head – New Business Strategy at Hyundai Motor India Limited who took us through the entire Mobility Membership plan — mentioning why Hyundai came up with the initiative in the first place, how it will benefit the brand and its dealers and what Hyundai customers can expect from it moving forward.
Buying a new Hyundai automatically makes you a member of the Hyundai Mobility Membership Programme, but will the customer be impacted on the basis of the vehicle they buy to the offers they are provided?
As a part of our philosophy at Hyundai, a customer is a customer irrespective of the vehicle they purchase. This whole membership programme is unconditional. It has to be unconditional from Hyundai’s perspective as well as the partners. We do not want to differentiate with a tier-based system. We see all our customers as our lifetime partners, so every customer should get all the benefits that the programme offers to them.
Programmes of similar nature provided by credit card companies or other providers from different industries use the “reward points system” to help create conversions in their own business and then allow customers to earn points and redeem them elsewhere. Why did Hyundai decide to opt against “Rewards” model?
Every other membership programme from other industries or even our competitors from the automotive space charge a fee and have an earn-and-burn system. We did not choose to go down that path. If you notice all the offers and benefits from credit card providers, those offers are all short-lived and are dependant on variables like inventory, or a brand running a campaign for the periodic offers which are in some cases even co-funded. Our intention is to offer unconditional and long term offers with the programme for our customers. These offers are exclusive to Hyundai customers and they may be valid for maybe even a year with access to multiple uses. That’s how we wish to make our customers feel special with these benefits.
By when do you think existing Hyundai customers can also become a part of the programme?
At the moment we are looking to launch this programme for existing Hyundai customers in Q4 2020. One of the market responses after the launch found our existing customers are pretty excited now. I don’t want to say that we will launch it in October which is the first month of the last quarter but our target is to have the service provided to our existing customers as early as possible in the final quarter of the calendar year.
How has the programme been received by partners, customers and dealers?
While our customers are thrilled, some are still trying to understand the programme, because they are accustomed to the earn-and-burn loyalty programmes. So educating the customers about the new avenue to see the benefits slowly has been a small hurdle. While our dealer partners side, they have provided us with feedback. What is important for us is the ‘learning’ feedback. While some have suggested considering a particular brand, or another. But it is already in our endeavour to add more partners to the programme in addition to the existing 21 already involved.
How do you expect your dealer network to benefit from this programme?
Traditionally, dealers’ revenue has been limited to vehicle sales, service and accessories. Now customers can see that Hyundai is going beyond being a simple mobility provider by working with lifestyle partners. This is something we believe is going to allow us to be seen as good value by our customers. Our dealer partners claim that this would lead to continuous engagement with the brand and all the initiatives. We eventually expect the customers to return to the Hyundai service network and this would lead to customer satisfaction, positive word of mouth and thus increase in sales with the enhanced customer experience, thus resulting in growing the business for our dealer partners.
So clearly you are looking at a long-term return rather than short-term gains. But how are you attracting the interest of partners to become a part of the membership programme?
We want to be the pioneers and leaders to create continued customer engagement with the brand even after the warranty period. In the future, this programme will be about product features and experiences. In every aspect, we strive to be number one. These experiences are something we are starting now with our click-to-buy online platform and more initiatives which we are working on. So these offers are not just vehicular solutions to customers. We want to create the image that Hyundai is a progressive brand and become the first choice.
With the programme just being launched, what are the initial responses and feedback from the 21 associated partners?
We started with a set of partners pre-COVID, and post-COVID we have some delta where some partners have stayed while some have dropped out. However, some new ones have come on board as well. If you’re not a vision-oriented partner, you will never be able to associate with Hyundai, because you have to make note of the fact that there is no money involved. But these 21 partners have seen the vision with us. We have shown them the potential of collaborating with Hyundai and what we can do together in the future in the form of new avenues with the association. So these are the partners who have seen the vision and have joined on board with these unconditional offers. We received a positive response after we launched the new programme and an interesting revelation is that I can confirm that 5-10 new partners have already come on board within a week.
What is the ideal service partner you wish to collaborate with? Would a direct association with a brand be preferable? Or a vendor who can provide a larger spectrum of services and offers? For example, would you prefer to be associated directly with brands like Mcdonalds, KFC, Indigo Airlines? Or prefer to associate with Zomato, Makemytrip or Amazon?
I will admit that you took a lot of names of partners whom we are considering. We are currently working towards launching Phase 2 of the programme in early Q4. But we have had very less time in the beginning and you can imagine the scale of the process. Getting all the necessary agreements done, the IT set up and managed in addition to everything else. So our endeavour will be to focus our energy on getting the best set of partners. Our first approach is to not go for volume but go for value. Our second approach will be what is relevant today. Do we still want to go ahead with luxury hotel chains? Or do we want to go in the direction of convenience? My answer would be in the case of lifestyle, for example, we will focus on convenience with which a customer can see a difference in day-to-day life. Instead of it being an offer which they can use once in 3-4 months. We wish to impact and help our customers in their day-to-day lives with day-to-day transactions. The mobility membership will be focused more on mobility companies that can help provide mobility for our customers. We are getting a lot more ideas, for example, we could soon tie-up with a financial institution and offer some benefits. I mean why not? So the key focus is to impact the customer in their day-to-day lives.
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