Tesla currently holds a satisfaction rating of 96, outscoring every other car manufacturer company in Net Promoter Score® ratings.
Tesla has also claimed the top spot in the Consumer Reports’ annual owner satisfaction survey, where 91% of Tesla owners stated that they would buy another Tesla vehicle in the future.
Total pre-orders for Tesla Model 3 surpassed many expectations at more than a quarter of a million in less than three days. To show you the bigger picture, this is more than 70 percent of annual sales for the leader in this market segment – Mercedes Benz C-Class. At the same time, the Model S received the highest-ever satisfaction score of 98%, while Model Y and 3 remain at the top of the best-selling electric car chart to date.
You cannot argue with the fact that these results are incredible. Tesla is a definite leader in NPS® benchmarks, taking into account that anything above 40 is still considered a very good score in the auto industry.
This huge success actually shows us the big picture of how markets work. So how does the world’s NPS leader achieve such a high level of customer satisfaction?
From implementing innovative features to perfecting the customer experience, today we’ll share the secret ingredients that make Tesla so special.
Tesla developed a truly unique selling proposition
A lot of economic textbooks teach you about the role of competition in the market. But they are often skeptical of the free market, concluding that some industries associated with huge entry costs alter the competitive process from its usual path.
The automotive industry is often cited as a relevant example. The need for massive investments and substantial exit fees work as a huge entry barrier.
And then comes Elon Musk with the Tesla team, creating something different, something we thought couldn’t happen – an automotive startup company.
Just like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk told a story that was aspirational and resonated with people. He said that electric cars are the future of sustainable transportation. In his blog post, he wrote:
“So, in short, the master plan is:
- Build a sport car
- Use that money to build an affordable car
- Use that money to build an even more affordable car
- While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options”
The company had a vision and a long-term goal from the start. They were going to create an electric car that was fast, sexy and efficient, then use that capital to create even more desirable products – and people liked that.
A good product that appeals to the consumer is the deepest core of marketing, which is very hard to achieve. The best way to show value is to start by making something incredibly valuable to a significant market, just like Tesla did.
Tesla brings innovation
When you drive a Tesla, your concept of what a car should be is irrevocably shaken. It gives the feeling that you’ve got a taste of the future. And it’s not just that they are electric; there are many other reasons why Tesla is innovative:
- Direct sales with no dealer network. Tesla allows customers to buy a car on the Internet, and this B2C model saves a lot of time and money by skipping the middleman. It reduces distribution costs and provides customers with greater convenience.
- Sporty yet practical vehicle. Tesla cars have the character and design of a sports car, but at the same time reach a level of practicality that has never been achieved before. The brand discovered a way to introduce a powerful battery pack into the auto market at an affordable price point, particularly for the luxury cars sector.
- Battery charging. Returning to the fact that it’s an electric car, it means you can plug it in and charge it anywhere. You can use a simple outlet or find a Tesla charging station that will charge it even faster – in about 30 minutes. The charging time would only improve in later updates. With 805 Supercharger stations in 2017, Tesla’s interactive map illustrated its plan to expand them over the next few years. According to the 2023 data, there are 40, 000 + global superchargers, so they seem to have stuck to their promises.
- Interaction with the car via a smartphone. You can see where your car is parked or how much longer it will be until the battery is fully charged, directly in the mobile application. You can also honk the horn, flash the lights and turn on the air conditioning before returning to the car.
- Driver-assistance system: From mid-February 2022, all North American Tesla vehicles have Tesla Vision – 8 cameras and a neural net processing system that provides Autopilot features. It enables the vehicle to detect and respond to the environment, providing passengers with situational awareness and making driving safer and more comfortable. Tesla’s autopilot technology is a significant selling point for its vehicles. The system can automatically steer, accelerate and brake the vehicle. For example, drivers can summon their car to come to them, even if it is not in their line of sight. The technology has received positive customer reviews and helped differentiate Tesla from other automobile manufacturers.
- Remarkably safe. Tesla Model S was awarded a 5.4-star safety rating from the National Highway Safety Administration, the highest safety rating awarded to any car. It doesn’t have an engine, so the entire front end of the car becomes a crumple zone to absorb a high-speed impact. Its roof is so strong that it broke a machine intended to crush the car.
If your company plans to take over the future, this is the way to do it. This car feels like the future for more reasons than just being all-electric.
Tesla cultivates brand loyalty
Tesla doesn’t have a huge marketing budget, unlike car manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors. Instead, Tesla relies on its brand advocates and word-of-mouth marketing to sell its cars.
Hundreds of Tesla fans line up outside dealerships before the cars are even officially unveiled, and they even have to wait a few years before getting their dream car. These incredible pre-order numbers get Tesla even more attention. So, I researched how exactly Tesla builds such incredible customer loyalty, and here’s what I found:
1. Establishes an emotional connection with the customer
Tesla fans are crazy advocates. They attach a deep emotional connection to the brand. One of the easiest ways for a company to do this is by standing for something important.
In fact, a study by marketing research firm CEB published by the Harvard Business Review found that loyalty to brands is hard to achieve without one key element – shared values. People become loyal customers when they share the same vision and beliefs which that company represents.
Tesla passionately promotes its vision that adopting electric vehicles will one day solve our planet’s energy problem. Its electric cars are environmentally friendly, which appeals to customers concerned about their impact on the planet. As a result, people feel good about driving a Tesla. They don’t need to buy gas, AND they’re helping the environment.
This sort of advertising is earned, not bought.
2. Delivers one of the best customer experience in the auto industry
Tesla has come to a realization that gave them a huge competitive advantage in the world of customer experience: make the process of owning one better than that of owning any other car.
As Tesla’s VP of Sales, Cristiano Carlutti, puts it:
“In the other companies, customers are customers, basically. They pay, they get a product or a service. In the case of Tesla, the customers are partners.”
The process of owning a car includes many touch points, from choosing a car to providing regular service and maintenance to keep it running.
And while many automotive companies offer great products, Tesla goes above and beyond in order to create a well-rounded user experience.
Their whole buying and maintaining process is very personal and, in some cases, unique to the car market:
- After you place your order, you have one week to modify it before the Tesla factory begins to work on it.
- Then the car will be delivered to you, or you could pick it up at the factory and at the same time get a free tour of the factory.
- If the issue is related to its software, engineers can often update the car at a distance. So, they can work on it at night and have it ready to go the following morning.
These are just some of the ways Tesla makes their customers feel special. Tesla goes beyond offering a great product; they are changing how the auto industry perceives customer experience for the better.
3. Takes customer feedback seriously
I personally never owned a Tesla before, but I did a test drive of the Tesla Model S once. The next day I received an email asking me to complete their customer satisfaction survey. I took some time to offer feedback because I knew someone on the other end would actually listen to what I had to say.
Tesla has been known to respond to customer feedback and implement their ideas. A great example occurred when two Tesla drivers submitted an open letter to Musk via a full-page ad in a Palo Alto newspaper. They asked Tesla to make a few changes to its Model S.
In response to this customer feedback, Musk tweeted a photo of the open letter saying that Tesla would indeed implement some of the suggested changes.
There was another instance when a Tesla owner complained about fellow consumers hogging spots at a local charging station. Musk reacted immediately.
Six days later, Tesla announced the following policy on its official website:
“We designed the Supercharger network to enable a seamless, enjoyable road trip experience. Therefore, we understand that it can be frustrating to arrive at a station only to discover fully charged Tesla cars occupying all the spots. To create a better experience for all owners, we’re introducing a fleet-wide idle fee that aims to increase Supercharger availability.”
When a client complained about a very pushy sales guy from the Tesla Stanford shop while shopping for Model X, Musk’s reply and action on the customer’s feedback were instant. He made sure that customer service representatives were reminded about the company’s goals and that their approach aligned:
N.B. Check our dedicated article on customer service tips for actionable insights to improve customer satisfaction.
You may think this was the case only for the early days when the company was making its way on the auto market. However, Musk is still very active on social media, taking up any flagged issue in no time to ensure customers benefit from the best experience possible. Let’s take a more recent example of a customer in Seoul who posted online about the error he experienced when connecting to Model 3 on the iOS app. In a couple of minutes, Musk was already checking the issue, which turned out to be worldwide, and closed the feedback loop with an update as soon as they got it under control. He took ownership of the problem and worked on a solution promptly.
It’s no wonder why Tesla has such a high NPS. From efficiently communicating its brand vision with people to publicly addressing customer issues and delivering its promises, Tesla truly knows how to build brand loyalty.
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Now that you are inspired and motivated by Tesla’s staggering success, it’s time to start implementing their CX strategies into your company.
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