Interview with Marc Bienemann (Jaguar Land Rover Benelux)

In honor of our 10th anniversary, we had an inspiring interview with Marc Bienemann, Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover BeNeLux. In the past, we have had many meetings together as The Next Organization has been working with JLR since 2012. Unfortunately this interview was done digitally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which however makes this anniversary only more memorable. Marc Bienemann has been working at JLR since 28 years and mainly conducts his activities now at Benelux HQ in Antwerp, Belgium. We had an lively discussion about his vision on the past and the future 10 years.

Looking back
When looking back on the changes that Jaguar Land Rover Benelux underwent in the past years, we concluded that a little bit more than 10 years ago, we were in the middle of another crisis. After JLR recovered from the financial crisis of 2008, a transformation towards a customer journey based organization was implemented. From that moment on, the Jaguar Land Rover team started constantly being conscious about the value they add to their customers during the different touchpoints between the brand and their clients. Since then, the company has been reflecting regularly on how to keep adding value and staying relevant in the dynamic markets of these times. They tried to exchange transactional activities to a more effective and dynamic approach. With this evolution, Marc has also seen the mentality of his team change to an even more pro-active attitude, delivering more value in each step to their customers than they already did. This changed also the dealer’s approach. For example, a couple of years ago dealers waited until a customer entered their showroom before taking action. Now, they evaluate their role and what they could mean for a customer before getting in contact with them.

“Our brains are used to our habits and searching for repetition, so if you are conscious about the things that you are repeatedly doing but not wanting or needing to do, you can get the most out of yourself and the organization.”

When talking about constantly questioning relevance and added value, we could not resist to ask Marc about the relevance of the annual motor show. In his opinion, the Brussels Motor Show alias ‘the salon’, has become a cultural institute and that question always remains with cultural items. However, people from all over the world have been coming to Brussels to see what is happening at this event. This collectivity is of big advantage especially for a small manufacturer, so yes it is still pretty relevant now and in the future.

Looking ahead – How does the future look like?
When talking about the future, Marc Bienemann sees four clear trends that are in development and that will have a significant impact for JLR and society as a whole.

Sustainable Mobility
Society has a growing need for a more sustainable way of moving around. Marc says, two decades ago he was already focusing on agile mobility solutions, but this trend has been accelerated in the last couple of years. For example, then he was already thinking about offering customers with an electric car a possibility to get a fuel car for 3 weeks per year so they can go on vacation. Whereas now that necessity might no longer exist as people will very soon be able to charge their cars almost everywhere in Europe. Now, we are dealing already with self-driving cars and the impact those have on sustainable mobility and behavior.

Financial Concepts
A need for changing financial packages has also been detected. In the U.S. monthly payments and leasing have been normal since years whereas the Dutch and Belgian markets are rather conservative when it comes to financing cars. Though, slowly but steady private and business leasing concepts in a total package are more and more accepted and wanted also in the Benelux.

All-round Service
Nowadays already and increasingly in the future, the customer expects to be offered all components of modern service at any time and place and that as many burdens as possible are being taken away by the brand itself. However by doing so, the roles of dealers amongst others might change. The challenge for them will be to keep the emotional value that they represent, by incorporating aspects from the customer’s personal lifestyle in the offered service.

Contactless Connection
Another trending need is to have an emotional and personal connection between Jaguar Land Rover and customers while maintaining less physical contact. Some people still enjoy the personal approach of talking to a dealer in a showroom for example, but in combination with the other trends and the eventual aftermaths of the Corona virus pandemic, companies should prepare for contactless service to be the new normal. CRM, Marketing tools, network and roles have to adapt to this and be inserted smartly in the future without changing the brand identity that the customers find valuable in the past.

“Our discernment in the future will increase and we have to keep providing the experience as functionalities are copiable, but the emotion is not and that is defining the intrinsic value.”

At least it is certain to say that, reflecting and re-evaluating a brand’s added value in the customer journey has been proven to be of great importance. These times have shown once again how essential it is to be adaptable in these dynamic times and markets without losing a brand’s identity and core value, like Marc explained about Jaguar Land Rover. We as The Next Organization agree that these trends amongst others are probably of big impact when looking ahead and we can’t wait to see how the next 10 years will look like.

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