4 Lessons from BMW on Turning Customers Into Fans

By Patrick Thean

dateWed, Sep 24, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

I had waited for months. Finally, on September 3, 2014 at 3 pm, I walked up to a man waiting for me. Glancing at the screen to the right, I see my name… Patrick Thean… Yes! This day… this moment had finally arrived.

The man greeted me, “Good afternoon, Mr Thean, it’s time.” He puts his keycard to the gate and it swings open. I walk through the gate onto a white staircase that takes us two stories down to the floor. Midway down, I see what is waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. My heart beats a little faster. I thought, “Man, that’s beautiful. I definitely made the right decision.” We pause. He turns to me and hands me an iPad.

“Mr. Thean, anytime you are ready, you may start your experience by pressing the start button here on this iPad.” I look up at my buddy with a crazy grin as he snaps photos to preserve this digital moment (Sorry, Kodak). I touch the start button. Lights come on and my BMW begins to slowly turn on the rotating plate, giving me a full 360 degree view of my new ultimate driving machine.

After an introduction to my new car and an explanation of all the bells and whistles, I fired it up for the first time, drove a victory lap inside the BMW Welt, and then Ray and I were off to a week of driving in Germany and Switzerland.

That’s how I picked up my new car in Munich at BMW Welt. And that’s how BMW creates fanboys.

The program is called BMW European Delivery (ED). They give you a 7% discount on the car if you choose ED. That 7% discount should be enough to pay for your travel to Munich as well as your hotel and meals. BMW also pays for up to 3 weeks of car insurance. I only drove for a week. When you are done, you drive the car to a drop off location. They inspect the car, accept it from you and BMW ships it back to the USA. They estimate 6 weeks to receive your car in the States.

Considering how much it costs to rent a car in Europe, this is actually a very inexpensive way to buy your car and throw in a European vacation. You don't even have to return your car to Munich. They have points to receive your car all over Europe. It's an amazing program.

I already liked BMWs before this trip. Now, I probably won't buy any other car for myself. And I'd probably buy it with the ED program again and enjoy Europe for 2 weeks next time. BMW succeeded in turning me from a happy customer into a raving fan.

What’s your customer service process to create fans? Do you have a process to turn your customers into fans?

Here are 4 lessons you can learn from BMW:

  1. Have a process that is easy for your customers. BMW made this experience super easy for me.
    • They had a travel agency lined up for me.
    • They negotiated special rates at a number of hotels.
    • They have a book that lays out the entire process, step by step.
    • They answered all my questions with these tools.
  2. Anticipate your customers’ desires.
    • Ask what your customer would want and anticipate it. They knew the factory tour and museum would be a delightful experience. It was part of the package.
    • They provided multiple drop off points all over Europe. They made it all about your vacation as well, not just picking up your car.
    • They provided premium car insurance for the entire trip. I did not have to do anything. Just get it, drive and enjoy!
  3. Treat your customers like the VIPs.
    • They had a VIP lounge for all owners who were picking up their cars. Food, espresso, wine, beer, everything was on the house.
  4. Make it financially advantageous.
    • The 7% discount made it financially a no-brainer. I saved money on the car and get a fantastic vacation with bucks to spare!
    • I learned that Porsche has an ED program as well, but they don't give you a break on the price of your car. The car drop off place shares with me that they hardly see Porsches being dropped off. They receive lots of BMWs.

Consider the value of having fans instead of customers:

  • Fans will spread the word about your products and services.
  • They tend to forgive you when you make honest mistakes.
  • Consider the life long financial value of a repeat customer. It costs 60% less to sell to existing customers versus winning a new customer.

If you want to learn more about creating special customer experience, my buddy, John DiJulius, has a wonderful conference on how to create special experiences for your customers. I attended his conference last year and am sending many of our coaching staff there this year. Here's the link to the Secret Service Summit. Check it out.

So take action now. Here are three suggestions to help you get practical and take action now.

  1. If you don't have a process to create fans, start your engines now!
  2. If you have a fan creation process, check it to see if these 4 lessons from BMW are alive and well. And if not, improve your program.
  3. Get the word out. Make sure your customers know that you can't wait to love on them.

I would love to hear your stories. Post a comment here or write to me at

Rhythm Systems Brand Promise Tool

Patrick Thean


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images