Citroen boss: "Haggling, jargon puts buyers off"

Citroen's CEO tells Carbuyer new ways to pay and better customer service are key to the brand's future

Citroen is to roll out a number of schemes to make buying a new Citroen easier than ever.

Speaking exclusively to Carbuyer at the Geneva Motor Show, Citroen's CEO Linda Jackson said she recognises that many buyers don't enjoy the process of negotiating a deal for their next car.

She said Citroen is exploring new ways for buyers to pay for their new car through a scheme called Simply Drive. It allows customers to build their own buying package, which could include finance, insurance, an extended warranty and breakdown cover. It's already been rolled out in France, but will soon be launched in the UK.

"We're trying to give buyers easier ways to pay for their car and that the process is really transparent. And that's really the Citroen philosophy; our promise is 'be different, feel good'.

"We're trying to make people feel good by reducing the stress. There are lots of studies in terms of when you buy a car that find there are lots of highs when you buy a new car, but there are also lots of stress points, and we're trying to reduce those stress points."

Jackson described situations where she's gone into dealerships and spoken to the salesmen, but hasn't understood some of the language they use.

Another "stress point" is where a buyer is given a demonstration of some features when taking delivery of their car, but subsequently can't remember how a feature – such as pairing a mobile phone, works.

Citroen is also preparing an app called Scan My Citroen that "enables you to put your phone against whichever piece of equipment you don't know how to work. It then gives you a link to video guides showing you how to use it," Jackson said.

She also explained there are further stress levels when you take your car for service or repair. A programme called Citroen And You is being rolled out in the UK, providing commitments such as guaranteeing your car will be returned clean and that dealers will respond to questions within 24 hours.

Jackson is clearly passionate about customer service and is taking new approaches to ensure her firm's position improves – in 2014, Citroen was rated 26th out of 33 manufacturers in our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.

In France, Citroen has launched a website called Citroen Advisor, which is similar in concept to Trip Advisor – a first for a car manufacturer. Customers can rate their dealer experiences out of five stars and after launching in October, Citroen has already generated 6,000 responses.

Although some 95% are four or five-star ratings, Jackson said she's more interested in the remaining 5%. Should a poor rating be received, both Citroen and the dealer concerned receive an alert and have 24 hours to contact the customer to solve their grievance.

"I can have fantastic products and great ways to go to market, but if I don't have a great experience for my customers in my dealerships, I'm not going to have happy customers and they’re not going to come back."

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