In early 2018, Audi announced the launch of it's very first battery electric vehicle (BEV), the Audi e-tron. This pioneering piece of design and engineering generated huge amounts of interest across the automotive sector and with customers alike. Audi decided that this launch should also mark another first, allowing customers to place a deposit directly with the brand for the new e-tron before the prices, spec and design of the vehicle were released to the public. This was genuine business transformation for Audi, allowing customers to transact with the brand completely directly for the very first time.
What exactly did we do
We joined the project in the months prior to the end of secrecy period. Whilst the deposit system was live and open, we were asked to lead a programme within the brand to prepare the brand for 'end of secrecy', when customers would see the production car for the first time prices and specification would be available. This, along with a significant advertising campaign was sure to generate huge further interest and would require a robust plan to meet customer demand. Our job was to ensure that the brand were ready for this demand and to manage increased interest from those customers who had already placed deposits.
How did we do it
End of secrecy announcements are often done at very late notice in order to ensure no information leaks out before the brand wants. With this in mind, we had to take a very agile approach to the change within Audi, ensuring that all potential areas of change were covered but keeping an open mind as to the exact nature of the changes. We used our experience of managing cross functional teams to set up an agile team from across the brand focussing on;
Post the end of secrecy, we also led a group of customers and brand representatives on a highly informative trip to the e-tron factory in Brussels, the world's first fully carbon neutral car factory. It was important to reward customers who had placed deposits before they had seen the car and this proved to be a highly worthwhile exercise for customers and the brand alike
The end of secrecy went ahead as planned as was hugely successful, generating many additional orders as well as converting many deposits into a sale. Our work ensured that the brand was fully prepared, both internally at Audi UK and within our retail network. This was a great example of using a collaborative approach, bringing the experts within the team to the forefront and providing a protective and supportive environment that allowed them to meet hugely demanding timelines and customer expectations.
WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) is the laboratory test used under EU law to measure the fuel consumption, the Co2 emissions and pollutants produced by passengers cars and light vehicles.
WLTP came into effect in 2017, replacing the old testing regime (NEDC). By September 1st 2018, only new vehicles that had been tested in WLTP conditions would be licensed to be sold in the UK. Our role was to project manage the implementation of WLTP standards for Audi in the UK, ensuring complete compliance with EU law whilst minimising disruption to our customers and the retail network.
What exactly did we do?
Whilst this was a classic 'project management' task, the breadth and complexity of the project was considerable. As project lead, we were responsible for;
How did we do it?
Being new to the brand, the early stages were a mix of building relationships with key figures across Audi (both in the UK and factory) and understanding the exact nature of the changes that WLTP required. It was important to very quickly become a subject matter expert on all aspects of the legislation in order to build trust and reliability within the brand.
We formed a WLTP project team with representatives from across the business, responsible for delivering the changes in their respective departments. As chair of the meeting, we held each team member to account, identified risks and issues and provided contingency plans where challenges arose. We worked closely with other project managers in Audi's sister brands to share experiences, information and to provide different perspectives on how the challenge was being tackled across the business.
The high level project plan was agreed with the Audi UK management team and we were then required to report back on a weekly basis right up until the deadline and implementation.
With a huge number of actions forming the plan and a hard, immovable deadline we had to merge classic Prince 2 project management principles with an agile mentality and a willingness to adapt and accept change on an almost constant basis.
All NEDC vehicles were sold and handed over to customers by the 31st August, ensuring that Audi UK were fully compliant with the new legislation and could continue to trade as before. We received great feedback from our retailer network concerning the timeliness and accuracy of our communications to them, both leading up to the switchover and then after the change had taken place.
Audi UK was also recognised as brand leading on the subject across the Audi world and we were asked to present a 'how to' guide to our Audi colleagues from other markets at a brand conference in Berlin.
Working in conjunction with their customer service centre agency resource partner, Volkswagen Group UK embarked on an initiative to 'digitise' the customer service centre. The main goal was to create efficiency by reducing duplicated processes and improving outcomes for customers by enhancing the resources available to customer service agents, meaning response times would be reduced and quality would be greatly increased.
What exactly did we do?
Our role was business programme manager for Volkswagen Group. We had to establish the governance programme, manage senior stakeholders across Volkswagen UK, the chosen system supplier and the customer service agency partner. Ultimately the task was to get the system implemented on time and to budget and to realise the business benefits that formed the business case.
How did we do it?
Working for Volkswagen Group's Head of Customer Service, our involvement began right at the beginning of the project with the production of a compelling business case to carry out the change. Once this had been approved by the board, we led the supplier selection process (along with the Head of Customer Service).
Once a supplier had been chosen, we very quickly embarked on a cultural transformation exercise in the customer service centre. Recognising that a successful deployment of the system was only a part of the challenge, we formed a plan to engage and involve key members of staff in the CSC (customer service centre) in the design of the system, the processes behind the system and then the training to their colleagues. In doing so, many of these individuals became huge advocates of the system and actively volunteered to train their colleagues with genuine enthusiasm that proved crucial in the implementation.
With customer service being of such huge importance to Volkswagen Group, we also were responsible for the delivery of the following elements of the project.
in order to deliver the project, we ran a project team made up of representatives from across VWG UK and the system and agency suppliers. The project was purely designed to get the system built and implemented on time and to budget and most importantly, without any interruption to the service we were able to provide to our customers.
The system went live on time and on budget. A phased implementation across Volkswagen Group's brands allowed us to deliver incremental improvements and enhancements with each release. All 450 members of the customer service centre now use this system successfully.
After many years working with an incumbent media buying agency, SEAT S.A chose the UK SEAT marketing team to be the first market to migrate to a new agency following an extensive tender and selection process. Our role was to programme manage and oversee the transition out of the incumbent agency and on-board and transition to the new agency.
What exactly did we do?
The programme was set up to deliver a complete transition within a three month period. Our role was to act as the programme lead, reporting to the Head of Marketing. We acted as the point person for the new agency, out-going partner and the SEAT Head Office team in Barcelona. The principle steps required to deliver the transition included;
How did we do it?
This programme required a breadth of skills and different approaches and we applied our knowledge in the following ways
The agency transition went ahead on time with all financial reconciliations with the out-going agency complete and all accounts payable / receivable settled. The new agency came on board on time and without any disruption to business performance or customer experience.
The 'new' agency is now the media partner for the whole of Volkswagen Group across Europe
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