Case study 55 volvo car uk

Volvo Car UK is the British marketing arm of the Volvo company, the Swedish manufacturer of high-quality, reliable cars. Volvo cars have a reputation for being solid, extremely safe, reliable, long-lasting and comfortable; they also hold their value well. For many drivers (and fleet operators) this makes Volvo the ideal prestige company car.

In terms of its long-term corporate strategy, Volvo aims to become 'the most desired and successful speciality car brand and the most customer-focused organisation in the world, achieving exemplary standards and support which will match or exceed customer expectations'. The problem for Volvo lies in deciding who is the customer - is it the extensive dealer network, which sells the cars, is it the corporations and fleet operators, which specify Volvo as company cars, or is it the world's motorists, who ultimately buy the cars?

Volvo believes that one of its major markets in the UK is the corporate customer; 70% of sales of Volvos in the UK are to corporations. Ultimately, these sales are to corporate employees who would like to choose Volvo as their company car. To meet the needs of these customers, Volvo runs two programmes; first, the Corporate Account Relationship Experience (CARE), which is aimed at corporate customers and fleet operators, and, second, the One Customer One Relationship (Oncore) programme, which is a dealer programme designed to satisfy the drivers of the cars. CARE is aimed at encouraging corporate customers and fleet operators to specify Volvo, but once the cars are sold and the drivers take possession of them, the Oncore programme takes over. Oncore is concerned with the relationship between the dealers (some of which are directly owned by Volvo, but most of which are independent businesses) and the drivers.

Volvo deals directly with the largest corporate customers, but dealers are involved both before and after sales with all the organisations that run fleets of Volvos. Some dealerships have in-house corporate specialists who have the expertise to understand the needs of fleet operators; typically, these dealerships are located in large cities where there are plenty of potential corporate customers.

Market research has shown that drivers of company Volvos are involved in six relationships that Volvo has input into. These relationships are as follows:

1 Volvo and its corporate customers

2 Corporate customers and their employees

3 Corporate customers and Volvo dealers

4 Volvo and Volvo drivers

5 Volvo and its dealers

6 Volvo dealers and Volvo drivers.

The Oncore and CARE programmes help to ensure consistency across these relationships. Oncore is about the drivers, CARE is about the corporations, but in each case the approach must remain consistent because of the close relationship between the corporations and the drivers (who are employed by the corporations). Currently Volvo still lags behind Mercedes and BMW in terms of numbers of cars sold to corporate clients, but the firm hopes to improve on this over the next few years.

From Volvo's viewpoint, the drivers are of crucial importance even though they do not always make the decision to specify Volvo. The reason for this is that the drivers will have some influence on the decisions (if they do not like the cars or are dissatisfied with Volvo's dealer service they might discourage their firms from specifying Volvo next time). Also, the drivers have families and friends who will see the cars and ride in them and each satisfied driver becomes an ambassador for Volvo.

In the longer term, Volvo seeks to refine both its corporate programme and its driver care programme to provide maximum repeat business. To do this successfully, the company must take account of its input into each of the six relationships identified earlier, and must maintain a clear message and service to its corporate customers and their employees.

(Case contributed by Jim Blythe)

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