Bentley Motors is a UK luxury car firm with a reputation built up over a century for excellence and quality in the automotive industry. But as a manufacturer of vehicles noted for their enormous 12-cylinder petrol engines, it isn’t perhaps the first name that springs to mind as a likely exemplar of digitally-enabled sustainability.
But following the launch of its Beyond100 strategy early last month, that’s precisely what’s going on at the firm’s HQ in Crewe, the first such factory in the UK to be certified carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust. At the public unveiling of the new approach, CEO Adrian Hallmark said:
Since 1919, Bentley has defined luxury grand touring. Being at the forefront of progress is part of our DNA - the original Bentley boys were pioneers and leaders. Now, as we look Beyond100, we will continue to lead by reinventing the company and becoming the world’s benchmark luxury car business.
Expanding on these ambitions this week as part of Salesforce’s Dreamforce To You virtual event, he made it clear just how significant a shift this is:
The Beyond 100 strategy really cements vision for the future of Bentley. We're a proud 100 year old company, but we're now set off on this course. Over the next five years, by 2025, we will only offer electrified power trains. That means plug-in hybrids with great range or fully battery electric vehicles. And then by 2030, we will only offer full battery electric vehicles.
For a company that's 100 years old in the car business, that's like Rolex saying they're going to quartz and not making mechanical movements anymore. We also are going to go carbon neutral for the whole car and all of our operations by 2030. We can see a way to get there. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to really transform the direction of his company and set it up for the next decades and century.
All of this has been set in motion during a turbulent year for Bentley. Traditionally a B2B company, relying on 230 partners to sell its cars, when COVID-19 struck, the firm, in common with businesses everywhere, had to rethink its operating model to market and sell directly to consumers. That meant turning foot traffic in physical showrooms into web traffic in digital channel equivalents. Hallmark recalls:
COVID hit late March and everything stopped. It looked like we were out of business. I guess for seven weeks we were. We recognised that to get through this crisis, we had to rapidly evolve our digital capability and then instantly we realised that it wasn't just to get through the crisis.
Tapping into Salesforce
Supporting these needs, the firm is working with Salesforce to deploy its cloud offerings to deliver a 360-degree view of customers, connecting up its sales, service and marketing organizations with the goal of providing a ‘white-glove’ personalized experience to customers. Specifically, Bentley’s 4000 employees now have access to:
- Sales Cloud and Service Cloud to manage all prospective and existing customer engagements on a single platform, while enabling customers to use Live Chat as a new channel of choice for real-time support. Understanding each customer’s preferences and previous engagement with the brand will also enable delivery of highly-personalized service from the moment a customer goes into a showroom, physical or otherwise.
- Marketing Cloud to deliver personalized experiences across email, SMS and web, as well as building out customized campaigns based on customer interests and history. Marketing professionals can build audience segments to target prospects and customers with personalized messages across any channel. With all connected sources across sales, service, marketing, commerce and third parties in one place, marketers can target prospects with a high likelihood of click-throughs and conversion.
- MuleSoft and Tableau to unlock and connect data from hundreds of new and legacy systems to provide retailers with 360-degree view of the customer. The firm benefits from a complete picture of the entire business via Tableau analytics and can track key sustainability measures across sales, service, marketing and commerce, while the addition of Einstein Discovery to Tableau will soon enable the firm to derive predictions based on data analysis to shape future actions and enable smarter decision making.
- Tableau will also be used in pursuit of the firm’s desired sustainability improvements by enabling Bentley Motors to track metrics and insight across all parts of the company in order to measure progress - or otherwise - towards its goal of becoming end-to-end carbon neutral by the end of 2030.
It’s a bold and highly ambitious program of change and one that’s built around customer-centricity. Successes to date have been achieved despite the additional disruption caused by the pandemic. For his part, Hallmark has hopes for a better year in 2021:
We were set up [this] year for a record performance. Obviously COVID hit. We'll actually start the year  right now with a bigger order bank for new car customers than we had at the beginning of 2020. So we really are set up for what should be a fantastic 2021 and we're going to make full use of the new Salesforce 360 capability that we've developed.
At the same time, the corporate eye remains firmly fixed on the long term transformational efforts underway:
Within 10 to 15 years, we will not have any engines. We will systematically replace them with new propulsion systems and it doesn't scare me. It inspires me. You could say that with a long and rich history, we could be getting a bit tired and old-fashioned. But I have to say, right now, today, this brand has never felt younger.