Last month, Volvo and Amazon announced they were teaming up to provide quick and simple test drives for their V40 model at the end of June, running across Manchester, London and Birmingham. Naturally, we decided it would be a great idea to see what all the fuss was about. This is what happened.
We booked the test drive online through Amazon for a Sunday morning in June at 9am. After a confirmation email, and a quick online submission of our driving license details, we were ready to go.
The morning came, and at 9am (on the dot!) our driver turned up in the Amazon Prime- branded Volvo. The drivers work for a third party automotive experience agency who are trained in delivering an engaging and exciting driving experience to customers for multiple brands across the world (including Bentley and Lamborghini, ooh la la!)
One of the things that struck me the most was how effortless the whole experience felt; from the moment our driver arrived, we left our house, stepped into the car and started our test drive – no fuss, no faffing with paperwork, and most importantly, there was absolutely no hard-sell. This immediately got the test drive off to a good start – we could tell the driver wasn’t interested in selling us a car, but in making us enjoy the experience from the moment he arrived until the moment he left.
We started our test drive, picking our own route and driving exactly where we wanted to, with no time limits and no restrictions. On top of the usual chit-chat which made us feel extremely comfortable and lifted any sense of pressure, the driver also told us some incredible stories about why the car is designed in the way it is (just in case you’re interested, the bonnet and windscreen in a V40 is designed to minimise the impact of Moose-related collisions – one of the highest causes of death and injury on the roads in Sweden). This was a really lovely touch as it built a sense of excitement and really highlighted the benefits of Swedish design in a more imaginative way.
Throughout the journey, the driver gave us a really honest view of his experience of the car -he’d been driving it across the country for the past month, so really knows it’s perks and downfalls, and he wasn’t afraid to tell us about these which was really refreshing and actually made us more likely to take the next step with Volvo.
At the end of the test drive, every customer fills in a satisfaction form about their experience. They also have the option (with absolutely no pressure) to take another test drive or be handed over to their local dealer if they want to pursue the purchase. This is where Amazon’s involvement ends – as soon as the test drive is over, the local dealer takes over. We filled in another test drive form to see what happened, and we got a call back from our local dealer within ten minutes of leaving the car – pretty impressive! On top of that, because we requested another test drive, we were given a free Amazon Echo Dot – how amazing is that?!
“Alexa – book a Volvo test drive” (well, maybe not just yet, but who knows what the next step is!)
Mooses and Amazon Echo dots are great, but what can we learn from this?
Looking back on my experience, it was incredible just how easy and non-committal the test drive felt. I’ve never actually had a driving experience that was as fun, simple and enjoyable as that. There was absolutely no sales pitch, and it made the test drive more light-hearted, more relaxed and much easier to see the benefits of the car, without having to worry about what you’ll say to the dealer if you’re not ready to buy just yet.
But what if this approach works? If successful, this has the potential to completely revolutionise the way that people research and buy a car.
What if ordering a test drive becomes as easy and convenient as ordering your groceries or your favourite book? What if, rather than taking a test drive in the final stages of the research process, the test drives are taken at the very start, leaving users to then research the specifics of the car, after they have already driven it? By making test drives as simple and accessible as possible, brands are putting their products at the very heart of the decision-making process, ultimately making it easier for customers to fall in love with the car first, and then make a decision after.
One thing is for sure, brands will have to evaluate their entire customer experience to identify common pain points (for automotive brands, a particular focus on the dealer experience), and work hard to innovate and create an experience that is simple, seamless, and most of all enjoyable.
In summary, I’ll leave you with a quote from my husband, who I took the test drive with:
“I absolutely loved that test drive. I would 100% do that again, but not with a dealer. Absolutely no chance.”