Jérôme Faissat 5th Jul 2018 5 Min Read
Buying a new family car is an exciting journey which involves spending a lot of time and money finding “the one”. The experience is strikingly different from one brand to the other, tipping the balance on which car you end up buying.
When my wife and I decided that we needed a new car, I had my requirements (electric/hybrid) and she had hers (SUV, seven-seaters big enough to accommodate our kids).
I did some research and I came up with a few choices: the Volvo XC90 T8 and the Tesla Model X. We also briefly considered the BMW X5.
The price for their basic model is roughly in the same ballpark figure. The Tesla Model X is on the higher end and the BMW X5 at the lower end of the spectrum.
We ruled out the BMW X5 because it was too small but also because the CO2 emission is above the OLEV threshold (both for the car and the charge point).
My wife was a bit sceptical about fully electric cars, and that’s a normal reaction which I’m used to. The best thing was to test cars. So I booked a test drive with Volvo and Tesla a few days apart.
We went to Volvo first. When I got in, I had the familiar impression of getting into a car dealership: immaculate cars, the smell of upholstery and tires, salesmen buzzing around. We were welcomed by an amicable middle-aged lady who offered us some tea and put us into a little corner to wait.
The salesperson assigned to us was busy with other customers and was just back from a test drive when we finished our tea. We waited about fifteen minutes before she came to greet us.
We sat at a desk and we almost instantly dived into the details of the car: budget, options, requirements, etc…. I asked more questions about the hybrid side of things and we were told that they didn’t have a T8 to test drive because they didn’t have one in stock.
That was disappointing as we specifically requested a test drive for a T8. Nevertheless, I decided to test drive the XC90 non-hybrid version.
Tesla called me twice to confirm my appointment and which car I wanted to drive. I was a little annoyed, but I guess they don’t want time wasters. In a way, it also reassured me that they would get the right car on the day!
We stepped into the “store”. I don’t know why but it felt more like an apple store than a dealership. There’re cars of course but there’re displays of the different finishes/colours and a high-resolution screen is looping really cool videos.
We were assigned to a dynamic young sales advisor who took us on the side to brief us about Tesla models, charging and electric cars in general. She’s young, eager and fit the brand perfectly.
I could instantly tell that her knowledge of electric cars was really good, even outside the world of Tesla.
As I switched off the engine of the XC90, I can’t really understand why I would spend sixty grand on a car that looks and feel almost the same as my previous car. Yes it’s more powerful, yes it’s newer, yes it has some nice little gadgets, but is it really worth it?
The salesperson is also a little annoying, selling me the “great performance” and the “amazing new features” of the car. I feel she’s trying to flog me a vacuum cleaner and I’m considering sticking to my previous car.
Back to the dealership, it seems that it’s all about closing the sale which bothers me even more. She also tells me that there is a three-month wait for the car and I can’t believe this. Finally, when we make her understand that we need to think about it, she looks annoyed and is literally cutting the conversation short.
I’ve seen the Model X’s falcon doors on a video but it’s really amazing in real life. As I approached the car, the driver’s door open by itself. Once in the car, I don’t have to close the door, I just press the brake. There’s no buttons, just the 17″ screen….
I’m overwhelmed. I don’t even know how to open or close the doors! It’s a new experience, a new way to drive a car and it’s so refreshing. The sales advisor takes us through the different features and I’m amazed by the things we can do, all from the central screen. I realise that Tesla is a combination of a car and software, it was created in Silicon Valley for a reason.
Like all-electric cars, it’s really quiet and easy to drive. Unlike most of the cars I had before, it’s incredibly powerful: you’re stuck to your seat when you press the accelerator. As we drive, the sales advisor took us through even more features but I’m not listening, I’m enjoying the drive and I’m smiling.
We come back to the store and go into more details, start customising our car online. There’s no hard push, we just go through the details of some of the pricing. I can finish to “play” around online and call to arrange the payment.
I had zero follow up from Volvo. Nobody bothered calling me and I can’t understand that. I’ve shown interest and I’m a potential customer, yet nobody cares.
Tesla followed up the week after to check if everything was ok and if I needed more information. We actually wanted to know more about the battery, the range, and the superchargers.
A guy called me a few days later and spent about thirty minutes on the phone to answer all my questions in details. He knew what he was talking about and it was very informative.
The experience was like day and night. The sales advisor also spent a lot of time helping us find the best way to finance the purchase as we had many options. Unsurprisingly, I ended up buying a Tesla Model X.
Tesla makes amazing cars but, more importantly, their customer service is amazing. They have re-invented the car sales process, transforming dealership into stores, salespersons into sales advisor.
This level of customer service continues throughout the sales lifecycle: before, during and after delivery: I will cover these in another article!
Jérôme is the boss of Andersen’s day-to-day managerial and service delivery. With extensive experience of retail system development and property and financial services, Jerome has an eye for quality and control. When he’s not mapping the future, he loves to talk to customers, drink French wine or speak Mandarin. He even finds time to walk his two dogs in the evenings.