Lexus says customer experience is king

8 April 2014
, CarsGuide

Lexus Australia chief Sean Hanley says that the customer experience provided by Lexus is one of the Japanese company's biggest points of difference against its luxury rivals.

Having been at the helm of Lexus for just over 14 months, it signals a subtle shift in the way Toyota's luxury brand is selling into the Australian market, supported by a flow of new and updated product.

Speaking to Carsguide at the launch of the new CT200h, Hanley told us he believes that the company is the best-placed luxury brand in the country to mount a massive sales effort and win plenty of new customers as a result.

But, he says, Lexus is not interested. "There's no-one better credentialled in Australia to run a retail volume campaign with Lexus if we wanted to, given our parent company (Toyota). If volume was all we wanted, we could activate a campaign tomorrow. But we don't.

"We believe very clearly that in the future, luxury customers will want a point of difference. That point of difference will come in many and varied ways. You have to have a good exciting product, that stands to reason. You've got to have a brand that provides the level of recognition that the consumer expects.

"More important than anything, you have to provide service and an experience from the time they look your car up to the time they dispose of your car. It's got to be exceptional. We believe we've got the customer experience pretty right. You can check whatever stats you like, independent or otherwise, we've got that right."

"We launched with one car twenty-four years ago and service was our point of difference. You combine that with the kind of design that Lexus is bringing to market. Distinct, exciting styling. And, over time, it is our intention to broaden our offering across the luxury market."

Hanley is referring to one part of the market, specifically the compact SUV dominated by Audi's Q3. The NX concept is a pointer to that, but Lexus insists it's not yet a production goer. Another product, the RC Coupe, is further evidence of that intention. "Our belief is, don't sell your soul -- the soul of what luxury stands for -- to get quick sales today."

Hanley believes Lexus needs to remain exclusive enough that buyers, especially young buyers, feel that their choice is unique. "Whilst consumerism is on the rise, if our kids become successful, they will want a point of difference. And that point of difference in the age of technology and social media and whatever else is available in their time, will be the experience they get from that product.

"The uniqueness, the recognition and how they feel. If you sell yoru soul now and believe that luxury is at the front end and not for the lifecycle of the customer, then I think that's a strategy that is fraught with danger. Good luck to the rest, if that's what they want to do. It's just not what Lexus wants to do."