Power, technology, safety and style are all expected when it comes to luxury cars, but new Korean prestige brand Genesis says customer service is the next frontier in the big buck battle.
What does that mean for buyers willing to take a punt on the new marque in the early days, then? Well, in the US – where Genesis has been operating as something of a sub-brand to Hyundai for several years – the inclusions are enticing.
Hyundai Motor America president and chief executive officer Dave Zuchowski insisted that bespoke customer interactions – when they want, not when the dealer wants – is the key.
He said that Genesis has learned a lot from Toyota’s luxury arm Lexus, which – in Australia, at least – is still considered the fourth contender in the luxury car segment alongside the German trio of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. It certainly runs fourth in the sales race Down Under.
In the US, Lexus is particularly strong – it outsells Audi, Infiniti, Acura, Cadillac and Lincoln – and part of its strong sales is its acclaimed buying and ownership experience. Lexus is consistently awarded accolades in J.D. Power surveys for its dependability, topping the ranks for four straight years.
But the car business is, after all, about profitability, not just a pleasant ownership experience, and Genesis seemingly will aim to build its business in a similar way to Lexus.
“One of the great advantages for Lexus, as an example, and remember in our market – 25 years after the fact – Acura and Infiniti are still struggling to figure out who they are, right?
“They all went with the separate facilities and all that stuff. Lexus is the only one it has really worked on. So the key for Lexus in terms of the ownership experience is the fact that those stores will make a lot of money: we look at industry records that show the composition for salespeople and managers and technicians at Lexus stores is better, and their retention is very high. So in many cases it’s all about people.
“But if you retain your people, your customers are dealing with the same people, and it’s a better experience,” he said.
“So there’s things we need to do in our stores: the way we set up our pay plans for luxury salespeople and luxury technicians, because part of our covenant is that you have champions in service and champions in sales that handle that business. If anybody comes in asking about [their products] they’re directed to certain people that have been certified and trained on it, so we have to provide compensation for them to make it worth their while to make sure that we don’t have the turnover to create that experience.”
Zuchowski indicated that Genesis could look to offer the best warranty in the country, with the current 10 year, 100,000-mile warranty on powertrains for Hyundais possibly extending to a lifetime plan for Genesis models.
“Potentially if we looked at lifetime on powertrains instead of 10/100, that’s a nice differentiator between Genesis and Hyundai,” he said.
Genesis will also offer free maintenance – as it currently does in the US and Australia – for the first three years of ownership.