Updated: May 26, 2022
How Carvana is leveraging customer experience principles to revolutionize the process of buying a car.
Last night began in standard fashion…I consumed a spicy chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A and wandered around the kitchen for a bit. Things took a turn for the crazy, however, when we headed out to buy a new car out of a giant vending machine.
Yes, I’m speaking of Carvana, “The New Way to Buy a Car” as their tagline says. For those of you who are not yet in the know, Carvana is looking to revolutionize a process 99% of us despise…purchasing a vehicle through a car dealership. How do they accomplish this you ask? With a huge emphasis on both automation and Customer Service. Having now achieved the objective of buying a used Hyundai Tucson, I can say I’m a huge believer in what Carvana has created. Let’s look at three strategic elements which culminated in an exceptional customer experience:
Convenience Through Digital CX – As with so many things today, the whole process begins online. Carvana makes it exceptionally easy to find not only the type of car you want, but specifically the car you want. I was considering between the Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V, and Hyundai Tuscon. By combining all the research from third party sources and making it extremely easy to compare features and prices, Hyundai quickly rose to the top. At this point I could look at dozens of actual Tucsons available for pickup as soon as the next day. There are no stock photos….you can see all the cars in great detail with 360 degree virtual tours. Say goodbye to days of driving around to car lots with only a few relevant vehicle options, but are full of sketchy and aggressive salespeople. This proves yet again there is always a better way- even for problems that have existed for generations.
Designing a Unique Experience and Brand – Who would have thought you could apply the “Disney” model of
making magic to the car buying experience? Carvana has found a way to do this with their giant robotic vending machine. It’s a pretty exceptional feeling to watch your new car roll down the tower and triumphantly make it’s way through the grand double doors. We actually could have had the car dropped off at our house, but we were so excited for the vending machine we even brought the kids! Since when was buying a car a memorable night out for the whole family? Well done, Carvana, well done. There is a special loyalty factor achieved when you combine convenience with a fun, unique brand personality.
Customer Service at the Core – By far the most compelling thing for me was the outstanding customer service provided throughout. Carvana has hired wonderful people who personify their customer-centric brand perfectly. When we arrived at the Nashville location, an employee named Mike had just gotten off his shift and was leaving. Instead of jumping in his car and peacing out like nearly any of us would, he changed course and came over to welcome us with a huge smile. When we got inside AJ was just as friendly and eager to help. We had a bit of a snafu with our financing which AJ bent over backwards to make it right as quickly as possible. They provided a cool little gift bag full of goodies, and even produced a special one for our kids. We walked out feeling as though we had been pampered, a feeling which only grew when we jumped into our beautiful new Hyundai. This is quite literally the opposite of my feeling last year walking out of the car dealer where we bought our mini van. I felt a strange combination of needing to take a shower and anger at having been manipulated into paying way too much. The fact that I was only 32 and already buying a mini van may have played a role in this feeling as well….
One of the coolest things about Carvana is they extend this feeling out beyond the point of sale. They often hide a 10 dollar gift card in the gas lid for customers days later. They proactively reach out and ask how you like your new car. It’s things like this that extends the magic and shows they are not just concerned about taking your money…they sincerely care about you and your experience.
It’s exciting to think that Carvana has permanently changed the way we will all buy cars. It’s especially neat to consider that this change is not centered solely on innovation and automation, but that it’s rooted in exceptional customer service! What industry will CX revolutionize next?
Nate Brown is the Co-founder of CX Accelerator. While Customer Service is his primary expertise, Nate is able to leverage experience in professional services, marketing, and sales to connect dots and solve the big problems. From authoring and leading a Customer Experience program, to journey mapping, to managing a complex contact center, Nate is always learning new things and sharing with the CX community. Twitter - @CustomerIsFirst LinkedIn - Nate Brown