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Firat Yoney believes Coco Chanel put it best when she said that “luxury must be comfortable”.
It’s a motto the Mercedes-Benz Vietnam Director of Customer Services holds firmly in his mind each and every day that he goes to work.
“That’s why we want to make it as simple as possible for our customers, not only on the online touchpoints, but also in the physical touchpoints when it comes to our services,” he tells The CEO Magazine.
“Simplification is the key. We need to reduce the complexity and make it super easy for our customers to do business with us. But at the same time, we must also focus on their comfort,” he says. “From our perspective, we need to provide such an outstanding experience that our customers should really feel that they want to spend time with us, and every time they are interacting with the brand, they have an extraordinary experience. This is our main aim.”
Indeed, luxury is a hard thing to pin down – an intangible and fickle entity that, if executed incorrectly, a discerning customer can spot a mile off.
So when it comes to how Mercedes-Benz sets itself apart from its competitors and always maintains that air of luxury, it is ultimately all about delivering a world-class and distinctive customer service experience.
“We are very much focused here at Mercedes-Benz Vietnam on how to excite our customers, and how we can inspire our customers with excellent services that will go beyond their expectations by creating additional value for them,” Yoney says.
“As a luxury brand, we want to build long-term relationships with our customers. Once we have them as a customer, we aim to keep them in the Mercedes-Benz family throughout their ownership. And in this manner, we think that customer data is our main leverage.”
Collecting and analyzing customer data means an increase in efficiency as well as excellence in customer service. By compiling a 360-degree profile of each customer, explains Yoney, Mercedes-Benz Vietnam can use data to personalize its customers’ experience.
“It also assists in anticipating customers’ needs and offers a more personal touch that is aligned with the expectations of our customers,” he says.
“At Mercedes-Benz Vietnam, we are not only focusing on producing and delivering the world’s most desirable cars, but we are also striving to deliver the ‘Mercedes of service’ within our ecosystem by providing a seamless after-sales experience from pre-service to post-service, from online to offline.”
Integral to a seamless customer service experience, of course, is a dependence on high-quality partners who will match that same level of dedication and luxury.
“We see these suppliers as contributors to our ambition. They’re as important as us from our perspective, because if they cannot deliver outstanding experience, or outstanding service, it will create dissatisfaction among our customers and this will jeopardize our brand image,” Yoney says.
“That’s why we delicately approach our suppliers, and we challenge them of course, but at the end we also position them as a strategic partner with whom we are running to our ambitions of creating customer satisfaction.
“With each and every supplier we want to create a long-lasting relationship because we see them as very strategic business partners, and they have a very important role throughout the entire customer journey. The main priority should be open and transparent discussion with integrity.”
With a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and a stint working in a construction company, Yoney joined the Mercedes-Benz family in Turkey in 2004, before moving to Vietnam as Director of Customer Services in 2021. From his first day, one of his primary focuses was to improve the after-sales service culture in the dealer network.
“I still think that physical touch is irreplaceable,” Yoney says. “We all got used to interacting with each other virtually, remotely. That’s why I put extra effort into visiting our dealer network onsite very frequently. I visit them regularly to cultivate relationships, so that I can fully understand their individual, specific needs, and regional challenges.
“From my perspective, investing time, and really listening and understanding each other is the key to building trusted relationships with people. I aim to make them feel that the most valuable resource actually that we all have is each other.”
Similarly, in terms of the culture at Mercedes-Benz Vietnam, Yoney leads with an approach that seeks to empower his staff.
“I encourage my team members to take risks, to speak up, to create something and to follow their initiation or ideas,” he says. “Secondly, as we can all acknowledge that the pace of change is unbelievable, we need to adapt ourselves to this new era.
“There was a mindset of ‘I know everything,’ but now it has changed. It’s changed to ‘There are many things more to learn.’ That’s why I encourage my team to ask questions, to feel curiosity about their role, and responsibility and opportunities.”
Yoney views curiosity as not only an innate part of being human, but one of the most vital tools for learning and growing.
“In customer service especially, we all should be very curious about people,” he says. “If we don’t know much about our dealers or customers, we can never find the deep value that they appreciate.
“Our slogan is, ‘We are Mercedes every day in the office.’ And every one of us actually in Mercedes Vietnam, including myself of course, asks each other every day, ‘Have I given my best today for my role in the company?’ Then we have already achieved something if we have a positive answer to that.”