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Oman’s Most Trusted Brands: Interview with Shaun Michael, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Oman

11 Mar 2023 By GULAM ALI KHAN

Muscat – Mercedes-Benz has won Oman’s Most Trusted Brand Award in the Automotive (Luxury) Category for the sixth straight year at an award ceremony recently held at Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz Carlton Hotel. In an interview with Muscat Daily, Shaun Michael, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Oman, spoke about Mercedes-Benz brand’s strengths in the Omani market and discussed the outlook for luxury cars segment in 2023 and beyond. He emphasized that Mercedes-Benz Oman remains committed to deliver on its promise to offer ‘the best or nothing’.

Mercedes-Benz has won Oman’s Most Trusted Brand Award for the sixth year in a row. What are the key strengths of Mercedes-Benz that are consistently winning trust of the Omani people?

It is a great honour to once again receive this award and to realise that we have been effectively building and strengthening a resilient bond of loyalty and trust with our customers in Oman. At Mercedes-Benz, we believe that being a respected and trusted brand and creating an excellent customer experience are inextricably linked.

The sleek design, luxurious finishes and supreme attention to detail of every Mercedes-Benz vehicle are all pillars of the brand, and one of the main reasons Mercedes-Benz remains one of the strongest brands in the industry to this day. Meanwhile, our superior customer service, excellent on-road assistance programs and warranties provide added peace of mind.

Mercedes-Benz can trace back its history in Oman to the 1970s, while our German luxury brand had already earned a distinctive global reputation for making high-quality, high-performance and reliable luxury cars. Mercedes-Benz has its heritage, prestige and engineering talent among its key strengths.

However, we do not take our reputation as one of the strongest brands in the industry or this award for granted. Hence, we work hard to ensure the vote of customers continues to be worth it, from the moment they walk through our door and throughout their relationship with us which is built on trust, and this includes an after-sales service strategy as well, while we continue driving growth in Oman.

How do you ensure a high-level customer satisfaction during sales and after sale services?

Our cars are known worldwide for their quality and safety, and we can guarantee that when a customer makes a purchase at Mercedes-Benz, it will be worth their time and money, regardless of whether a customer is buying their very first car or just coming in to have their certified pre-owned car serviced, they are offered the same level of care and quality – after all, that it what our “best or nothing” philosophy is all about.

Meanwhile, we have a dedicated team of sales consultants at our showroom who are always available to help customers select their dream car. We work closely with our customers to help them find the perfect vehicle for their needs and aspirations, and continue the relationship through to regular servicing and after-sales support, which remains a high priority.

Our digital solution, StarView, offers customers access to personalised video updates and real-time status reports during a car service via email and SMS. It is all part of our ongoing commitment to offer the best possible experience to our customers, whether online through our revamped websites or visiting our state-of-the-art showrooms.

Oman’s economy saw a strong post-pandemic recovery last year. How was Mercedes-Benz’s Oman sales performance in 2022 and which were the best performing models in this market?

The luxury car segment has been driving most of the growth of the global automobile industry, and despite the many disruptions the world has seen in 2022. Relatively speaking, we achieved great sales in Oman throughout the entire year.

Our best performing models still include the C-Class, E-Class, and S-Class, which remain steady favourites among senior executives. Our Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), such as the GLE, GLC, and CLA, have always been popular with families in Oman, providing them with the space, comfort, safety and durability to drive around the cities, or a luxury road trip through the desert and the mountain or along the coast.

To ensure Mercedes-Benz continues to remain the most trusted brand in Oman, what is going to be your focus and plans for 2023 and in the years to come? Do you plan to launch some new vehicles in the market this year?

We entered 2023 with a renewed purpose to continue building the brand, and we are excited about the outlook for 2023. We will continue to adapt to the needs of customers, while we will carry on our strong heritage and legacy at the same time. As always, we aim to introduce the latest models to the Omani market. The Mercedes-Benz Lineup for 2023 includes the new GLC SUV, new E-Class, and the new GLC Coupe.

Meanwhile, other key focus areas include further digitalisation and the
e-commerce journey to make it more convenient for customers to choose their new Mercedes-Benz. We will also continue to offer training and professional development opportunities to help our employees grow in their careers. We will remain committed to ensuring that our customers remain fully satisfied throughout their entire journey with us, as we will continue to deliver on our promise to offer ‘the best or nothing’.

It seems the worst – due to pandemic-induced recession – is over and the economy is bouncing back stronger. How do you see the current trends and outlook for luxury car segment in the Omani market?

When it comes to the luxury car segment, we are expecting that our customers and potential buyers will continue to redefine luxury. Traditional elements such as craftsmanship, safety, performance and quality are expected to remain powerful buying factors, but potential buyers are also increasingly interested in the latest technologies and an increasingly more personalised experience, it all should feel very special and state-of-the-art.

As I mentioned earlier, the luxury car segment has been driving most of the growth of the global automobile industry, and despite the many disruptions the world has seen in 2022.

Meanwhile, the wider passenger car market has been growing, with the largest segment proving to be small SUVs. We will also be rolling out a number of new and exciting initiatives this year alone, reinforcing our commitment to being a future-ready customer-centric brand offering “the best or nothing” to our customers.

What is the average age of a Mercedes-Benz customer in Oman? And how does the company meet expectations of the younger customer base who prefer to have a lot of technology on the dashboard?

People of 40 years and older, as well as people between 25 to 40 years of age, form the main customer base for Mercedes-Benz. As forward-looking company we realise that, moving forward, the key to driving growth will be to continue to reach the largely young population and respond to their love of technology and innovation. Mercedes-Benz has introduced next generation safety options and driver assistance to make driving a true pleasure while the interior is a fully-connected haven for the driver.

Oman recently announced its commitment to reach net-zero emissions target by 2050 and in line with this goal the government is now focusing on the decarbonisation. How can automotive players such as Mercedes-Benz contribute to Oman’s net-zero goals?

We aim to play our part in supporting Oman achieve its net-zero objective by 2050, while climate protection is a high priority for most of today’s customers of luxury brands, as it is to us as an automaker. Economic, environmental, and social responsibility go hand in hand — along the entire value chain.

At an international level, for example, Mercedes-Benz AG is a founding member of ‘Transform to Net Zero’, a climate protection initiative launched by Microsoft and leading international companies. Within this international context, Mercedes-Benz has marked out a way for it to bring our new car fleet to ‘net zero CO2’ within less than 20 years – and not only in driving operations, but along the entire value chain.

Since 2022, for example, our passenger cars and vans have been produced CO2-neutrally in the more than 30 plants of Mercedes-Benz AG worldwide. One example is our Factory 56 in Sindelfingen, where the new S-Class and the all-electric EQS are produced.

Decarbonising also involves partly replacing vehicles that currently run on conventional fossil fuels with low-emission electrical vehicles (EVs) that either battery operated or hydrogen fuel-cell operated. We look forward to receiving more EVs in the future and promoting the transition from conventional hydrocarbon-based fuels to renewable energy. Demand for batteries and electrical drives will grow, while the need for conventional transmissions and engines is expected to decline.

A mass adoption of electric vehicles is thought to be a major contributor to net-zero goal in the future. Keeping this in mind, can you throw some light on Mercedes-Benz’s plans in electric vehicle segment, and how long it may take you to introduce an EV in Oman market?

There is certainly a growing interest in EVs which is partly why we are striving for a technological leadership role in electric drives and digitalisation and looking forward to meeting the increasing demand by introducing more innovative and powerful models.

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