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BUSINESSCAR AWARDS WINNER: Customer retention key to BMW's plans for 2013

Date: 26 November 2013   |   Author:

An armful of 2013 BusinessCar awards isn't enough for BMW, and the brand is looking to make more noise this year, as corporate sales boss Steve Chater tells Paul Barker.
The 3-series was voted Business Car of the Year

BMW, the UK corporate marketplace's biggest-selling premium brand, picked up five prizes in the reader-voted 2013 BusinessCar Awards, retaining two of the headline prizes in the process as it cemented its place as the fleet industry's favourite car manufacturer.

The firm kept its Manufacturer of the Year title and the 3-series followed on from its little brother the, 1-series, in being crowned our 2013 Business Car of the Year. That was on top of category wins for the Mini, 3-series and X5 as well.

"We're delighted to again pick up so many awards," reflects corporate operations manager Steve Chater. "The Business Car of the Year and Manufacturer of the Year are great accolades. They continue to be great recognition and something we aspire to as we work hard to prove we have the right products and services in the corporate sector."

"Accolades like these give us insight into how our approach is working," he continues. "We need to keep developing and improving the customer service we provide and keep listening to customers."

Chater describes the awards as an indication that the firm is getting the right products for the UK market. "We try and fight for the right product and make sure they're relevant," he declares. "We try to have a stable appeal and focus on lease companies, end users and drivers, and try to ensure we offer the right service - not only with new customers but hopefully to retain the ones we already have."

That last point is key to Chater's 2013 ambitions for the German prestige brand. "We've got very large potential with the existing customer base and drivers that are in our products - if you can offer someone a comparable product there should be no reason to go elsewhere," he says. "You can't leave it to chance - you have to convince the customer that there is no reason to look elsewhere. You've got to market and promote the product and make sure it's at the right price relative to the individual."

Chater claims BMW is working with leasing companies so that in some cases drivers can acquire a new 3-series for the same money as the previous car when they took it three years ago.

"It's absolutely central that we look to have a replacement product when they come to the end of their contract that is suitable and meets their needs," he says. "We have to work hard to ensure customers know the products we have and their relevance so they are in a position to take another new car at the end of their three- or four-year cycle."

That involves making "a lot more noise in the marketplace" about the continually expanding model line-up in order to "retain customers and ensure we have the right products for them", explains Chater. "Hopefully they will continue to buy and lease. We need to work to make sure there is the awareness of our product and what we can offer."