Car purchase with digital advantage: optimized platforms for customers

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Anqi Zhao takes customers digitally to their destination – whether it is a test drive in the newly launched EQS or purchasing the new E-Class entirely online in the digital shop. At a Mercedes-Benz Group AG Company in Beijing, the team leader for Digital Platform Management uses intelligent data analyses and interactive offers to ensure that all digital platforms run smoothly and thus create the perfect customer experience. In her interview, the digital specialist reveals, how she ensures that online customers also feel they are in best hands, how she joined Mercedes-Benz ten years ago, and what makes the corporate culture special for her.

Ms Zhao, as Digital Platform Manager, you are responsible for the digital Mercedes-Benz customer experience in China - what does the perfect digital customer journey look like?

Digitisation, one of our most important strategic cornerstones, is agile, similar to the wishes of our clients, and currently completely new dynamics are emerging. In the Chinese market, we are observing that customers also want to experience services online, which they are used to at the car dealership. My team and I are now creating solutions to bring the complete buying process into the digital world: from product selection and configuration to payment and delivery of the car to your doorstep. Everything has to run smoothly and, of course, we at Mercedes-Benz want our customers to perceive our service offering as "premium" on our online platforms as well. By the way, we can be on first name terms, I am Anqi.

Soon, our users will also expect all the services they get from the dealership to be accessible in the digital world.
Translation: Mercedes-Benz “5 Star Rating” successful launch on official website and mini program.

With pleasure, Anqi. How do you and your team ensure that our customers feel they are in the best hands online?

Personalisation is important: If a customer has spent a long time on the G-Class page, for example, and is therefore particularly interested in the car model, the G-Class will be displayed on the homepage the next time they visit. Of course the implementation needs to get customer consent, and needs to be in a compliant manner. And part of the premium experience is that we are constantly refining the user-friendliness of our platforms. After all, we want our customers to have an easy and convenient experience as possible. My five team members and I ensure this by continuously optimising the features and content of our platforms, which include the official Chinese Mercedes-Benz website, apps and our WeChat presence.

How do you specifically realize continuous optimisation?

We analyse user behaviour data, which we collect in a data protection-compliant manner: For example, if we notice that our users rarely click the "Book a test drive" button, we replace it with a "More information" button and check whether this is better perceived by our customers. The great thing about my work is the direct feedback we get from our customers via digital channels. The work of my team is entirely in line with the Mercedes-Benz corporate strategy : We are driving digitisation forward to put the customer experience first.

And how is your team composed to achieve all this?

Almost like a small Internet company (laughs). Each team member is a "product owner", thus responsible for the development, implementation and smooth operation of a digital platform. Of course, that does not mean that we do not support each other. My team has a great team spirit and we can inspire and help each other with our different specialisations. We also work closely with various other business units – sales, marketing, the legal department, our IT team and its user interface designers, to name a few.

"I love learning about new topics. At Mercedes-Benz, I always have the full support to pursue my interests and learn new things".

How does the cooperation with other business units work?

Let me give you an example: recently, we decided together with the sales and marketing team to add a night mode to the 360-degree view of the Mercedes-Benz EQS that we offer on our virtual showroom. This emphasises the cool LED lighting of the model. We then discuss the implementation of this new feature together with our IT team. In addition, we receive input from the customer service division to develop online services, such as the door-to-door vehicle delivery for maintenance and repair, which customers can book on our platforms.

You have been with Mercedes-Benz for ten years now, how did you actually start here?

During my master's degree in Economic studies at Hong Kong University, I did an internship at a car manufacturer and immediately fell in love with the industry because it is so diverse. After graduating in 2012, I joined the International Talent Programme at Mercedes-Benz as a trainee. During the program, I worked for six months in Stuttgart, where I had a great mentor. In addition to the trainings, where we were given insights into leadership perspectives, among other things, my mentor made every effort to give me a great learning experience.

And what makes Mercedes-Benz stand out as an employer for you?

The employees are really in the foreground here. I love learning about new topics and in the company I always have the full support of my superiors to pursue my interests and learn new things. That is how I got my current job. The agility and dynamics of digitisation fascinate me and I would like to make a lot of progress in this area - all doors are open to me at Mercedes-Benz.

Lastly, one final personal question: Where do people meet you on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. or 10:30 p.m.?

Our daughter just turned one year old and I love spending my free time with the little one and my family. From now on, I like to be active again and therefore do yoga and Pilates regularly.

Anqi Zhao (33) studied German and Economics at Beijing and Hong Kong University. During this time, she also lived in Berlin for six months. As a digitisation enthusiast, she is working with her team to ensure a seamless customer experience for Chinese Mercedes-Benz customers, After work, she enjoys spending time with her family. Because she only lives twenty minutes away from the office in Beijing, she usually walks to work - but for longer journeys, she likes to rely on her A-Class.