Dan Toma from Volkswagen Financial Services has worked with the Staffino customer experience management platform since 2017 as head of the client centre. Thanks to his initiative and enthusiasm for customer care, the company moved from feedback collection to complex customer experience management during this time. It even created its CX team covering all activities aiming toward its key value – customer satisfaction. So how have the shopping habits in the automotive industry changed over the years, and how has Dan motivated his team members to deliver the best possible customer experience? We talked about that and many more exciting topics in our interview.
1. In October, you are being promoted to a new position. How will the nature of your work change? Will you continue to be involved in managing the client experience?
The main change is that I will now be able to apply my previous experience in the field of customer care in an international European environment within the new Operations Europe team. The aim of this promotion is, among other things, to share experiences across countries, find synergy in customer processes and provide the best possible customer service.
2. What are the three most important things that your work as a head of the customer centre has taught you?
The first and most important realisation is that I found myself in the field of customer care. The second thing is that nothing is possible without support. Whether from your team, colleagues, or your boss and management. But also support from family and friends. And thirdly, I understood that one never stops learning. Everything around us is changing very fast, and it is necessary to be prepared for these changes and react quickly.
3. Recent years have been marked by the pandemic. Has this affected the clients’ behaviour, interest in cars, and shopping habits?
We have been following changes in the market and changes in customer preferences for a long time. The pandemic significantly accelerated this trend. Today, customers do not necessarily need to own a vehicle but primarily need to ensure their mobility. Due to the ongoing problems in supplier-customer relations and the unavailability of new cars, clients are extending existing contracts, financing mainly used vehicles and using new digital ways to purchase and finance vehicles. Interest in electromobility is also coming to the fore. This trend is primarily driven by fleet clients, but the classic retail segment will undoubtedly follow in the future.
4. Experience with a seller or service provider is nowadays more important for many clients than the product’s price. In your opinion, what are the essential decisive factors when buying a car on finance?
The approach of the seller, the brand, the service and also us as a financing company is definitely becoming more important than the price. On the other hand, price continues to play one of the key roles in the client’s decision. In our case, we have a significant advantage in that we are part of the strong Volkswagen concern. This allows us to offer services and products with added value at a fair price – for example, our branded insurance, the possibility of prepaid service or the unique Smart Financing. So, in my opinion, the key is to offer and ensure mobility to the clients precisely according to their needs and preferences at a reasonable price with perfect service throughout their entire customer journey. It is also essential to support their loyalty in the future.
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5. In our last interview, you mentioned that you are considering using Facebook more to communicate with clients. Did you make it happen, or did you stay loyal to traditional communication channels?
In the past, we really did think about adding this way of communication. The same applies to video calls, chat and other communication apps such as Viber and WhatsApp. In the end, however, we decided to keep the traditional ones and offer our clients the possibility to manage everything through an online portal. We launched it at the beginning of this year, and we already have 7,000 registered customers, with the number growing every week.
6. You have been cooperating with the Staffino platform since 2017. What impact do you think this cooperation had on the development of client care?
We’ve come a long way in those five years. From “just” monitoring whether the client is satisfied or has a comment, we have moved to complex customer experience management. We now have our own Customer Experience team that covers all activities in this area. Last but not least, every employee has a customer satisfaction indicator among their goals, and customer satisfaction is one of our key values.
7. They say that happy and motivated employees are the key to satisfied clients. How do you motivate client centre employees, and to what extent do you use gamification?
One can only agree with this. We do everything to ensure that our employees have all the resources and support they need for their work. We try to create working conditions in which it will be possible to fulfil the set goals and expectations and one in which they will feel comfortable. I believe it is also essential that I, as a leader, lead by example and stay authentic. And when it comes to Staffino’s gamification, it’s the icing on the cake. It ensures that our work is not only about monitoring client feedback but also a little bit about the game. Gamification promotes a healthy rivalry among colleagues who strive to win fun badges based on their achievements.
8. How has sharing positive feedback and thank-yous from clients via the Staffino platform affected the company culture and your employees’ mood?
Using Staffino has helped us become transparent both internally and externally. It allows us to find out what we are doing well and what we need to change. A significant change was that we were no longer anonymous over the phone and e-mails, and the customer was allowed to evaluate precisely the worker with whom their request was handled. Over time, customer feedback has become a kind of a “drug” in the sense that employees eagerly wait for their feedback. If they don’t get any for a while, they proactively ask the client if everything is okay or if there are any issues 😊.
9. It was you who inspired us to add new functionality to the Staffino platform, thanks to which not only managers but also employees can start internal discussions. Even they can have innovative ideas for improvement. Besides, this way, they can take a more proactive approach to solve customer issues. Did you find this function helpful?
Definitely yes. Today, it is already standard for us that in the case of receiving a comment from our customer, the employee will automatically send a message about this particular case to the manager in the application. This way, we do not only get the employee’s view of the situation but possibly also an idea for improvement.
10. What are your personal or career goals in the near future?
For now, I would like to take advantage of the opportunity I have been given and realise myself in a new position. Later, I would like to gain experience directly at the headquarters in Germany or another foreign branch.