Porsche Hires Disney Institute To Revamp Dealership Experience

The renovation is to be spearheaded by Porsche Cars North America CEO Klaus Zellmer.

Porsche is planning a new dealership training program to begin later this year as an effort to improve their in-person customer experience. “Excite” is the new theme for the program, which will see more than 5200 employees to a new high standard. This US-based initiative is the beginning of a global shift aiming to make the Porsche buying experience rival that of every other luxury brand. The idea here being that if it works in the finicky North American market, it’ll work anywhere else in the world with minor cultural tweaks. The twin spearheads of this reinvention campaign are recent PCNA CEO appointment Klaus Zellmer (replacing the long-serving Detlev Von Platen) and the Disney Institute. 

The program will see two separate stand-alone initiatives within dealerships to help improve that customer-facing interaction. The first will see every employee who interacts with customers, from each of Porsche’s 189 US dealerships, trained extensively at one of their two Porsche Experience Centers (Atlanta and Los Angeles). Secondly, each dealership will be asked to designate a new “customer experience manager” for their store, which is likely to be a stand-alone management position (about 70 dealerships already employ someone in this position thanks to a pilot program last year). Some dealers are worried about the increased personnel and training costs, but the general consensus is that everyone is on board with the forward motion. 

We need to stand on two legs,” Zellmer told Automotive News. “We have one very strong leg: product. But standing on one leg is not good enough for us. So the second leg for me is the issue of customer experience.”

Von Platen also commented, “It starts with Porsche AG — it’s the way we deliver our service to our dealers. Which counts if we want them to be perfect in delivering an unexpected service to our customers. It’s about culture and consistency.”

The Disney Institute has been chosen for their innate ability to please the customer and focus on “delivering a guest experience”. The ideology behind the program is already paying dividends with Porsche’s standings in the current J.D. Power surveys showing them having jumped to fourth among luxury brands, a marked improvement for the brand. Porsche is currently highest in J.D. Power’s rankings for Sales Satisfaction, Vehicle Dependability, and APEAL (Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout) rankings. It is Zellmer’s goal to improve on the two outstanding categories; Initial Quality (currently #2) and Customer Service Index (currently #4). Perhaps Disney can help him, at least on that last one.