Infiniti plan: Friendly assistants for the world
Infiniti’s Ben Poore: “What we wanted when we created this was a luxury hotel concierge service.”
As part of a rollout of the Infiniti Personal Assistant concierge feature, the brand's customers and call-center agents will soon be talking to each other on a friendly first-name basis.
"Customers are telling us, 'I'm ready to move to a more informal relationship with my concierge,'" says Ben Poore, vice president for Infiniti in the Americas.
If a customer chooses the new informality, the call-center agent might greet the owner saying, "Hi, Tom. How are you?"
Poore says Infiniti Personal Assistant has been a hit with his U.S. customers since it was introduced last year, and he wants to take the service further. About 100,000 people use the feature, which is supported by a call center in Dallas with employees trained in luxury-class phone manners. It is provided free for four years to new-vehicle buyers and for a fee to buyers of used Infinitis.
"We've learned that the more a customer uses it, the more their brand advocacy goes up," he says. "The more you use it, the more you like Infiniti and talk about the brand."
Infiniti now wants to extend the service overseas. But that will require the company to copy the U.S. system using different players in various markets because the feature relies on familiar voices in a familiar language.
The feature's recent introduction in Canada required staffing the call center behind it with French-speaking assistants. Offering the feature in Germany or China will require Infiniti to create local German or Chinese concierge services, Poore notes.
Like OnStar, General Motors' live-human assistance service that debuted in 1996, Infiniti's system allows consumers to talk with a human with a push of a button. But Infiniti's version allows customers to take the service outside the vehicle.
Some customers have entrusted their credit card information to the service so that they can ask the live assistant to make purchases when necessary.
"What we wanted when we created this was a luxury hotel concierge service," Poore says. "We wanted something equal to an American Express black card status.
"What our customers are finding is that when you can have your personal assistant call you and address you by your first name and handle your errands for you, it's just cool."
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