For the first time in its history, Mercedes-Benz Canada has put a woman in charge.
Eva Wiese became the company’s CEO on February 1. She comes into the role with extensive experience: she was the first female lead of a Mercedes-Benz corporate retail region where she was responsible for 17 locations in Stuttgart, and she spent three years as the first woman in a leadership role with the Mercedes-AMG sub-brand as head of marketing and product management.
With retail being such a critical part of the automotive business amid the shift to digital sales, and with Canada being one of the top markets globally for AMG per capita, Wiese is ideally positioned to bring real-world insight into her new role. Here, she tells Wheels.ca what opportunities she sees for improving the premium automotive ownership experience for Canadians and how her appointment plays a role in cementing a commitment to diversity within the organization.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How has your past experience, particularly on the retail side, helped you to lead at a corporate level today?
There is no other place where you can be closer to the customer than in retail. We had many events with our AMG customers where I talked to people from all over the world, and this was always inspiring to me. A customer once told me, every single time I approach my car, I sit in the car and leave the door open, start the ignition, and then close the door because I so like the sound. To hear that with a job [in automotive] you make people happy and bring joy to their life, this is something that motivates me a lot.
What opportunities do you believe Mercedes-Benz has to build customer enjoyment of and relationship with the brand here in Canada?
The most crucial thing for our success is not only to have great products, but also to offer a convenient and seamless customer journey. It’s not only about if the car looks great and the technology is good. The way customers are treated once they have bought the car will also be very important to them.
Every interaction with your Mercedes-Benz dealership should be able to be done with three clicks from your cell phone. Do you have a question? Do you want someone to pick up your car? If it comes to your mind on Sunday morning and you’re sitting on your sofa, you should be able to do it, hassle-free. The first car is sold by the sales consultant, but I’m pretty sure the second or third car is sold by the service experience.
In my former job, I always encouraged consultants to use FaceTime to let customers see their faces. You can see if what you just said is convincing, or if he gets the message or not. Or instead of sending an email, maybe do a short video: ‘I just wanted to tell you your car is ready for delivery. See, here it is, waiting for you.’ This is a whole different thing than two sentences in an email.
If you try to change perspectives – if I were a customer, what would excite me? – then you always come up with really good ideas. I think there is still some potential, especially when it comes to the digital moments in the customer journey, and those are gaining more importance.
What different viewpoints do you feel you can bring as the first woman to lead Mercedes-Benz Canada?
One of the main reasons I wanted to work in Canada is that it is such a diverse country. I think having a diverse environment is something really enriching. We have quite a good female share in our company.
Within our leadership team, we have 50-50 women and men, and this is something I really enjoy. I have never worked in such an environment. I’m so used to being the only woman. [I learned to] just speak up and say, listen guys, I’m the only woman here in this room, and you should hear my perspective because it matters. If [my being in this role] helps to inspire young women to step into the automotive world and fight for their ideas and their dreams, I’m really happy to do that.
Stephanie Wallcraft / Wheels.ca