Teach Your Customers Italian

Last weekend, I went out with my gal to help her pick out a new car. Smart didn’t have anything in stock with the packages and color she wanted, and the Hyundai Veloster just wasn’t ‘her’ (though she thinks I should get one when they get a Turbo version).

Finally we arrived at Northside Fiat of Indianapolis to take a test drive with the new Cinquecento, also known as the 500. Despite a glaringly bad commercial with JLo, the 500 screams cute and friendly and availability in a copper-orange pushed her over the edge.  It is a fun drive rowing the dual clutch automatic through a parking lot in manual shift mode – though I don’t think our salesman in the backseat quite enjoyed the invisible slalom course as much as I did.

As we were closing the deal, we were informed that we had a paper version of our manual, but it was also available as an app for our phones, and that Fiat was also giving out an app that taught you some Italian for free. Talk about cute factor. And even beyond the cute factor – get people interested in Italian car culture, and when Fiat starts bringing other models to the US, you’ve got a lot more brand loyalists.  When you think about it, the 500 is the first approachable Italian car in the US for a generation.  Making that deeper connection is important if they want to go beyond the initial sales boost from the car being a unique offering in the US with so few on the road.

This whole experience made me realize that the auto industry has done an incredible job of blending mobile applications into their customer experiences. Fiat is just one example, but another great one is the Hyundai Equus. The Equus is a luxury saloon car, similar to a Mercedes S-Class, but half the price and with a 10 year warranty. Every Equus sold comes with an iPad included. This iPad comes pre-loaded with the owners manual, and the Equus app on it will also locate the nearest Hyundai dealer and schedule a service appointment.

Did you know that there’s a private social network for Toyota owners? Through salesforce.com, Toyota owners can register for “Toyota Friends” and meet other owners, receive tips from their dealership, and get alerts from their car for service appointments or a low battery.

Mobile applications aren’t just for car companies – apps aren’t just for checking weather and playing solitaire anymore. Apps can build brand loyalty, help you connect with your customers and help your customers stay connected with you.

Ask yourself, “Will someone that my store(s) touch more often be more likely to buy again and become a repeat or long term customer?”  Here are 5 steps for making mobile app marketing work for you. Mobile applications are just another way to reach out and touch someone.

What do you think?  How have you seen mobile apps help in enhancing the customer experience? Tell us what you’re doing or what you’ve seen that works.  We look forward to your comments below.
David Egger IRU Mobility Programs Lead Marketing Manager AT&T About David