The waiting is no longer the hardest part for Audi Canada customers. The luxury automaker has introduced a new online service that enables customers to track the progress of their vehicle during the manufacturing process, keeping them abreast of significant milestones like its arrival in the paint shop, the completion of stitching on custom leather seats or even when it boards a ship bound for Canada.
Developed by Toronto-based BIMM, Audi’s digital and direct AOR, the tool is designed to keep Audi customers both informed and engaged with the brand during a potentially lengthy wait, said the agency’s vice-president and chief creative officer Roehl Sanchez.
The pilot program is currently being tested with 20% of Audi’s Canadian dealerships with plans to expand it nationally by the end of the year. Introduction to the U.S. and European markets is also a possibility, said Sanchez.
When someone custom-orders a new Audi, they are asked to provide their email address for subsequent communication. They then receive notification of the MyAudi Tracker program directing them to a dedicated website.
Sanchez calls the tool the embodiment of the German automaker’s long-standing brand positioning “Vorsprung durch technik” (which translates roughly as “Advancement through technology”).
“What we’re trying to do with the Audi customer is get them to experience the brand from the day they enter the dealership,” he said. “Most car dealerships, you go in, you take a test drive and you put down your deposit and it’s ‘See you later.’ This is all about customer delight, which is a big thing that Audi stands for, and about providing the unexpected.
“From a brand perspective, this should get people engaged with the brand beyond just picking up the keys. They’re feeling they are a valued customer, because they’re getting a one-of-a-kind experience that’s relevant to their vehicle in real-time, which doesn’t happen very often.”
The MyAudi Tracker program took about 18 months to conceive, design and implement. Sanchez said it’s the product of discussions with former Audi Canada president and CEO Martin Sander. Two years ago, Sander (now managing director of Audi UK) expressed his desire to provide anxious customers with up-to-date information about what was happening with their car during the two-to-four-month lag between order and delivery.
It was during a subsequent manufacturing tour of Audi facilities in Germany that BIMM representatives were informed of an internal “black box” containing order details for each particular vehicle, telling staff what features needed to be added to each car or SUV as it progressed along the assembly line.
“That’s when a light bulb went off,” said Sanchez. “That black box follows a vehicle from the time the order gets placed to the time it gets placed on the ship. [Our challenge was] could we find a way to connect that with some kind of communication so the customer gets a play-by-play of what’s going on with their vehicle.”
MyAudi Tracker also provides customers with behind-the-scenes content from the manufacturing process that is a blend of Audi’s global assets (interviews with designers, vehicle sketches, a tour of that particular vehicle’s manufacturing process etc.) that matches up-to-date manufacturing and tracking information for their specific car.
“This is more than just following a blip on the screen,” said Sanchez. “You’re getting all kinds of content you would not otherwise have got.”
A plan to have live cameras relaying information and video direct from the factory floor in Germany was also proposed, but was scrubbed because of security concerns, said Sanchez.