Interviews Trends

“Autokauf per Mausklick: Wie man durch Customer Experience Management Vertrauen schafft”Interview with Claus-Peter Heinrich Head of Brand Marketing and Brand Experience in heycar 

We’re more than happy to introduce some speakers of our upcoming E-commerce Berlin Expo 2022.

Today, we decided to invite Claus-Peter Heinrich Head of Brand Marketing and Brand Experience in heycar for a virtual cup of coffee to talk about “Autokauf per Mausklick: Wie man durch Customer Experience Management Vertrauen schafft” Enjoy!

You’re a Head of Brand Marketing and Brand Experience at heycar, a company operating in the automotive industry. That sounds interesting, what does your work look like on an everyday basis?

Together with my team, I take care of the strategic and communicative positioning of our brand in the market. I coordinate our setup of brand marketing channels and activities. What I find really exciting is the constant balance between the creative part on the one hand and KPI-driven elements such as tracking and performance improvement on the other.

Like truffle pigs, we are constantly on the lookout for the latest topics, trends and ideas. At the same time, we are the internal ambassadors for our brand and make sure that all of our activities, including those that go beyond marketing, contribute to our branding and our brand promise.

What are 3 top branding challenges that companies in the automotive industry have to deal with?

Being a relatively new company and a challenger brand, one of our biggest challenges is to build awareness and differentiate ourselves from other players in the market. The online car trade is a highly competitive market with a constant stream of new competitors. The decisive factor here is relevance: we have to develop offers that are exactly what our customers need. You don’t gain relevance by simply being an aggregator of products. Instead, as a digital marketplace, we have to be a one-stop shop for customer needs along the entire process of owning and using a vehicle. We achieve this by working closely with our shareholders. The third challenge is trust-building: cars are a high-involvement product, trust is the be-all and end-all when buying. We want to lower the threshold and make our offer easily accessible: The complex process of buying a car must be made as simple and uncomplicated as possible.

How does digital transformation influence e-commerce?

The digital transformation affects almost all industries. Wherever there was a “real life” marketplace before, there now is a digital marketplace. However, it is crucially important to use all the possibilities that digitization offers: our aim must be to turn the famous caterpillar into a butterfly, not into a fast caterpillar. We therefore have to rethink end-2-end services from scratch and develop tailor-made processes.

What do you consider successful marketing in an industry like yours?

Successful marketing is anything that increases the relevance of a brand. In order to achieve this, customers must know exactly what a brand is offering and trust the brand to deliver exactly that. In a market as over-communicated and overcrowded as the online car trade, this requires a lot of creativity and knowledge about the customer. That’s why for us it is important to establish customer proximity, create trust and establish your brand as a reliable partner for everything to do with buying and owning a car.

How can automotive companies create engaging and memorable brand experiences for customers?

Through humor and emotion! With every marketing measure, be it a TV commercial or an OOH campaign, you always need to ask yourself: Would I like it as a customer myself, would it activate me? If it wouldn’t, drop it and think of something new. At heycar we always try to leave the beaten tracks and try something new. Last year for instance, we launched a unisex frangrance called the ”New Car Scent”. The idea was to capture this very emotional moment, when you first sit down in your new car, in  a fragrance.  It was a huge success, because it was something new. 

As a brand that mostly takes place in the digital space, we also have to ask ourselves: what are the most important touchpoints for our brand, with the highest branding power? And last but not least, we need to create an all-round pleasant shopping experience. Buying a new car is still one of the biggest purchases in life for most people. Therefore, we not only have to optimize our digital processes, but also need to provide good customer service. This includes professional advice, clarity, and transparency.

How do you see the future of the automotive industry and, specifically, its marketing? Can you identify any particular trends shaping?

Currently, this is hard to predict, since there are many major changes happening in the industry. For instance, it’s hard to say to what extent the electrification of cars and autonomous driving will shape the industry in the long run. We can, however, identify a clear trend towards eCommerce and new solutions for car buying and usage, such as subscription models, sharing models, etc. Generally speaking, we will move away from single transactions and instead lay more focus on the customer life cycle as a whole. As margins are decreasing, concentrating on loyalty loops, customer loyalty, cross- and upselling will become more important. Again, acquiring customer data and insights is crucial for this process.

What do you think heycar would be without branding and creating brand experiences?

Not as successful as it is today. Our targeted marketing campaigns have made a decisive contribution to the growth of the brand and the company, especially in the start-up phase. In 2019, our second year in business, heycar already was the second fastest growing brand in Germany – an important foundation for our further business development.

What aspects are crucial for better customer experience when it comes to e-commerce?

I see three basic pillars that a good customer experience in eCommerce needs to be built on: The first is maximum trust: Selling high-involvement products like cars, we continuously have to prove our trustworthiness as a new brand in the market. Secondly, we aim for maximum convenience: the process of buying a car online needs to be as simple and transparent as possible.

For an optimised customer experience, we need to think of every step in the process, from the first visit on our platform to a possible car return. The third pillar is maximum understanding: we want to be as close to our customers as possible, listen to their feedback and learn from negative experiences, too. We don’t want to optimise a process for the sake of optimising: No customer wants to deal with a new process every week. So we try to find the perfect balance between innovation and building on tested experience.

What’s the main takeaway from your presentation “Autokauf per Mausklick: Wie man durch Customer Experience Management Vertrauen schafft” that you have prepared for this year’s EXPO?

In my keynote you will take away insights on how a targeted Customer and Brand Experience Management helps to minimize possible inhibitions on the customers’ side when buying a high involvement product like a car online.

I will also share some interesting insights on how we managed to establish ourselves as a challenger brand in the online used car markets within a very short timeframe, and how in doing so, we managed to clearly differentiate ourselves from the competition.