Interview Date: November 23, 2012
Professional Profile: Adriana Maria Quaglia begans her career at the end of the 1980’s in sales and marketing. From 1989 to 1997 she worked for several communications agencies, developing and managing advertising campaigns, trade marketing, events and external relations for premium Italian and international brands.In the following decade her career developed in telecommunications management. She has been involved in directing and implementing important organisational and business change management projects.
She has been with Fiat Group Automobiles since 2008 where, within Customer Care, she has always worked to develop channels and services aimed at managing and developing relations with the Group’s customers. She currently works as Fiat Group Automobiles and Chrysler Customer Innovation Manager for the EMEA area within Parts&Service – Customer Care.
Could you explain your role to us and how it interfaces with the other departments of the company in a few words?
For the EMEA area within Mopar® Customer Care, the Fiat Group Automobiles and Chrysler Group brand for services, customer care, genuine spare parts and accessories, I’m responsible for a service which has the principal objective of introducing and testing innovative “solutions” to develop customer relations, both in terms of customer loyalty and from a Group product and service purchasing prospect point of view.
We do take innovative ideas as our starting point, but build on our daily experience and work strategies by analysing the needs of customers, market trends and the development of technology to identify and define how to respond to the requirements identified. We then assess the impact that a new “solution” may have on the development of Fiat customer relations, design and implement new services or open new interaction channels or, more simply, suggest tools that increase performance according to company targets.
We adopt a systemic approach: technology, processes, organisation, skills and performance indicators are the levers that we employ to ensure that a project becomes reality in daily operation. This characteristic “forces” us to work on many levels at once with all brands and departments of Fiat Group Automobiles and Chrysler and in strict synergy at an international level. This is an extremely complex way of working, but one which we have structured through a work methodology which sees the “centrality of the customer” as the driving force behind all company departments.
Does a permanent net connection open new “worlds” to us? How can this co-exist with the “old” channels without conflict? Is there a risk of being too progressive for certain groups of customers and leaving them by the wayside?
If the “Digital Voice” of consumers is now a market reality for all companies, the official figures on Internet coverage and use demonstrate that the digital cultural divide between European countries is still too great to “navigate” towards a “single, completely networked world”. Working in Customer Services today therefore implies developing an integrated, multi-channel CRM and customer communication strategy.
In Fiat, Customer Care succeeds in harmonising all service delivery channels, from the most traditional to the most innovative, thanks to an approach which, starting from engineering the processes and defining the typical service levels for a specific channel, develops technologies with an integrated method “made to measure for our customers”. This means that, if a customer contacts us on our freephone number and – before or afterwards – on social networking sites, we can be sure that we will never lose track of them because our systems trace and bring up their “history”.
Then there are channels which run no risk of conflicting, but which instead meet requirements that would not otherwise be met. I’m thinking of our mobile applications, available for free on iOS and Google Play… they make information and services available which we would never have been able to offer our “mobile” customers if we hadn’t set up this channel: roadside rescue, traffic information, servicing plans and car finder as well as services with closer links to leisure, such as Cinema, for example, which allows cinephiles to keep up to date with all the latest news from the world of film from the Lancia mobile application. The smartphone channel features services which we developed, and continue to develop, not to compete with other services but to enhance our current Customer Care offer.
We’re very curious about your Service project linked to a Twitter profile. Is it still in the test phase, or are you about to roll it out for all brands and models as soon as possible? If that’s the case, can you give us some specific information about the requirements deriving from this operation?
For a start, I’d prefer to talk about Fiat Group Automobiles Social Customer Care, and not just Twitter. Let me explain. Opening Customer Service on Twitter was the result of a work process that identified social media as a channel for listening to and engaging with customers. First of all, we undertook an in-depth study on the “social” scenario of the automotive market in certain European markets. In light of this study, we were able to locate “the voice of Fiat and Alfa Romeo customers” on social networking sites, identifying themed forums and Facebook as the sites with the greatest level of discussion and Twitter as the most effective channel to initiate relations with customers. In particular, it highlighted the fact that more than half of our customers turn to the Internet when searching for information and assistance.
This first phase of analysis therefore confirmed the necessity of staying up to date on “what our ‘social’ customers say and how they speak” and, in order to be proactive in customer service, a listening process was defined to monitor and observe the opinion and feelings of our customers on the net on a daily basis, allowing us to pick up on problems and opinions which would otherwise pass us by.
As confirmation of the importance that we place on this new interaction channel, we opened customer service on Twitter at our main EMEA Contact Center in Arese, adding the “social” label to our branding: Ciao Fiat Social and Alfa Romeo InfoSocial are now available for all Italian customers, from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., thanks to a team of dedicated operators who respond to requests for information and assistance sent via public tweets or direct messages to @FiatCareIT and @AlfaRomeoCareIT.
The process of developing customer service on Twitter involved an intense and elaborate work programme which involved the entire Customer Care department. A structure of personalised procedures and processes and performance indicators was created, enabling us to monitor the progress of the service, plus a customer communication structure characterised by an immediate, informal and substantial approach. Great attention was paid to the recruitment and training plan for the operators dedicated to the service, which saw the creation of training methods and content which was truly unique in the automotive sector.
Today we can say that 2013 will be a year in which Social Customer Care will be extended. The pilot is going extremely well and the company’s interest in intensifying the Customer Care presence in the social media is a definite objective.
Looking at the number of followers (of the Fiat and Alfa Romeo Twitter profiles), you can see that it is basically quite small, too small. Is it a strategic choice to test the tool before offering it to all customers, or are you thinking of profiling customers and creating a personalised account for each of them?
Our strategic choice is to aim for quality of followers not quantity.
Those who follow us do so because they are truly interested and may need our support. We’ve even discovered that some customers have created a Twitter profile just to ask for our assistance! The service is open to all. It’s already available to all and in just a few months we’ve seen our Klout score reach an highly respectable level! Our followers are becoming true “partners” who promote us and recommend us to their followers, in other digital media too. We’ll grow a little at a time, adopting the strategies and techniques that permit us always to be where customers need our help through the type of service best suited to the channel where we have a presence.
Why would a customer be interested in using the Twitter profile rather than the freephone number? Isn’t there a risk of increasing bureaucracy in dealing with emergencies?
Twitter has developed a new way of communicating: direct, essential, “close”, respectful, simple and clear. It promotes rapid, precise and effective customer-operator communication by its nature. Bureaucracy is minimal or non-existent… Customers with complex problems are prompted to send a private message with their details. It may be possible to resolve the issue immediately or it may be necessary to contact the customer by phone. In this case, the work process is routed to the existing process for assisting customers who call the freephone number.
An emergency is always an emergency, whether tweeted or phoned in! The customers needs have the highest priority. Initial data indicates that our customers tend to contact us on Twitter more to request information than to report a problem in any case.