Audi is Driving Me Away!

Posted on 16. May, 2011 by in Customer Recognition, Loyalty

I’ve driven Audi automobiles for almost as long as I’ve been writing about customer relationships.  But this parallel is, at best, troubling.  You see Audi isn’t a very good practitioner of CRM and I’m passionate about CRM.  I know I should “vote with my dollars” and abandon the marque, but I do like the engineering of their cars!

In my first book, Aftermarketing (1992, 1995), I used Audi as an example of customer disregard.  Let me explain why.  During their unintended acceleration crisis (of the late 1980’s), I traded in an old Audi and bought a new Audi!  A remarkably confident action you might say – one worthy of reinforcement.  But never once did Audi contact me to thank me, or to reassure my decision to buy a new Audi.  Consider how a contact might not only have comforted me, but armed me with information and facts to use against friends who questioned my purchase.  Instead, they ran lots of ads.  Advertising that spoke to the world; a world of mostly Audi non-owners.  A traditional marketing approach, disregarding current customers while chasing after new customers.

I ultimately dismissed this incident attributing it to naivete, ‘Teutonic arrogance’, or just plain bad judgment.  I eventually calmed down and bought another Audi.  Enjoying this A8 as I did, I even began advocating the marque to others as I had in the past.

However, recent events have riled me once again.  It all started during this year’s Super Bowl with the Audi commercial for the new model, A8.  This was troubling because as an owner of the current A8, I hadn’t heard about the introduction of a newer model.  Audi never bothered to email or mail me the news.  I felt slighted; unacknowledged.  You see I’ve owned four Audis (two A8’s) – by anyone’s definition I’m a loyal Audi owner.  But by defaulting to running ads on the mass media rather than communicating with their installed base of current owners and advocates, Audi has again displayed its total disregard of current customers.  They appear totally disinterested in building or maintaining any relationship with their current owner-advocates.  In contrast, good CRM practices would have them leveraging the passion of current owners to generate word of mouth and interest in this new model – which the press says is stunning.

The final blow, as they say, was dealt even more recently.  A neighbor stopped in front of my house in a new Audi – a model entirely new to the Audi lineup – an A7.  A model I’ve not even heard of!  The sales person in the car with my neighbor proudly described it as one of the few A7’s in the tri-state area.  And here my neighbor, who has never owned an Audi in his life, was being treated to a pre-introduction drive in this great looking new automobile!

So let’s recap.  1.) Audi disregards its owners during a crisis of credibility; a time when satisfied, committed owners could have been an important, positive voice.  2.) Then, Audi ignores current A8 owners as they introduce a new A8.  3.) To further demean current owners they fail to inform them about the arrival of a brand new model, the A7!  The conclusion is obvious.  Audi simply doesn’t appreciate the value of relationships with current customers.  Unlike other high-end marques (like Mercedes-Benz) that are committed to their owner-body, Audi just doesn’t care or doesn’t get it!

Now I admit this may all sound like the whining of some malcontent who desires special attention.  From my perspective it’s anything but that.  It’s the frustration of an Audi aficionado who recognizes how valuable loyal buyers can be to a marque and longs for some outreach from the manufacturer to acknowledge and reinforce his continuing support.

When am I going to learn to stop expecting Audi to show me some or any appreciation?  And, will Audi ever realize the asset they have in their current, loyal and devoted customers?  Both questions seem almost rhetorical in Audi’s case.  They don’t appreciate their current customers; they never have and apparently never will.  I’m nominating Audi as ‘best in class’ for CRD – customer relationship disregard!

Tags: , , ,

One Response to “Audi is Driving Me Away!”

  1. dieta

    09. Jan, 2012

    Thanks you for taking the time to answer questions from owners and enthusiasts. I’m a proud long time Audi owner and I have a couple of questions: 1. Would AoA reconsider S4 Avant for US market during the B8 mid-cycle update? What about next generation? What kind of sales volume will AoA needs to see to justify bring the model back? Consider this a personal request as I have a B7 S4 right now and would like a new Avant 2. The new A3 sedan looks great in concept form. Would AoA bring back the sportback model? This is not Sophie’s Choice… can we have both please? 3. Please comment or clarify AoA’s plan for eTron in the US. I’m not referring to the R8 based sports car but the eTron version of mainstream models (e.g. A3 eTron etc). Is this something that will come to fruition in 2~3 years time or are we talking about longer time horizon? 4. There were lots of discussion about Q5 hybrid about 2 years ago but then it looks like AoA made a U-turn and got back on push for Q5 TDI in the US. What is the current AoA plan on hybrid (will it launch with A6?) and how does it fit in with AoA’s renewed TDI push? 5. VW Group has returned to manufacturing in the US. There are some rumors that Audi will do so too. Can you comment on this (if you can) and what models you think may be candidate for manufacturing in the US? Would AoA consider US-specific or US-centric models down the line?

Leave a Reply