Citroen won't follow Ford on two-tier customer service

* Citroen won’t mimic Ford’s VIP service concept * Company boss says all buyers get the best experience * DS brand could get standalone sales sites in UK...

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Ed Callow
19 December 2013

Citroen won't follow Ford on two-tier customer service

Citroen’s Director General has ruled out any possibility of copying Ford’s concept of a two-tier customer service structure in the UK.

In September this year, Ford revealed high-spec Vignale versions of the next Mondeo. At the time, Ford of Europe’s vice-president of marketing, Gaetano Thorel, explained, ‘Vignale is more than a trim, it's a combination of product execution tied with exclusive consumer experience.’ He claimed, ‘The buyer will get a VIP experience – single point of contact, no time wasted.’

What Car? spoke to Citroen chief, Frederic Banzet, at the launch of the new DS 5LS for China, and asked him whether similar VIP service could work for the DS brand in the UK. Mr Banzet appeared to clash with Ford’s thinking on the two-tier customer experience: ‘I think it is very difficult to give privilege to DS customers over other Citroen buyers. Why should you separate the service levels?

‘It would be bizarre if two members of the same family walked into a dealer, one with a Citroen, one with a DS model, and they were treated differently. We aim to give our customers the highest level service, regardless of which model they buy.’

We also asked Mr Banzet what lessons could be learned from the way the DS models are marketed in China – under an entirely separate brand. Mr Banzet explained, ‘The success of the DS brand in the UK has been because of the Citroen dealer network. We won’t separate the brands in the UK like we do in China, but there may be opportunities for Citroen dealers in the UK to pitch for a standalone DS Store.

‘This is already happening outside China, but there is not yet a DS-only site in the UK. We are being entirely pragmatic; if there is a business case, we will consider it.’

By Ed Callow