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Sinan Karaburun, Lead of the IT Tech Office at BMW China, talks about how MeasureChina has helped the automaker’s finance department understand their online customer satisfaction in China and prove that social listening at scale is a project worth pursuing.

Social Listening in China

Sinan Karaburun heads up the IT Tech Office at BMW China, a global multinational automobile company. Faced with the constant need to innovate within their financial department in China and stay ahead of emerging FinTech startups, Sinan turned to MeasureChina to collect and analyze vast amounts of data generated by users on popular Chinese car forums.

Using MeasureChina’s AI data processing and collection services, Sinan was able to give BMW’s financial department answers to specific questions on online consumer opinion and demographics.

"My job is mainly listening to complaints. What are the pain points right now? What's the problem?"

Sinan runs between 10 and 20 Proof of Concept (PoC) projects every year. The goal of each project is to prove that the technology is mature enough to take over into real business use-cases. When a technology (such as MeasureChina’s social listening project) is successful, the results get shared across departments and further projects are handed over to the relevant department heads.
Project Goal:
BMW’s financial services needs to know what products to develop or adjust to not to lose customers, and attract new ones away from their competitors in China.

Getting into the customer’s mindset

Consumers are saying more and more online - especially in China. "Everyone is always online, and everything is being implemented online,” says Sinan, “and consumers are sharing their frustrations and their happiness more openly than in Western countries. They’re blatantly honest about their emotions online - especially when they’re unhappy with something.” And all that social sharing is a very valuable source of data for all departments in BMW.

But getting consumer feedback and conducting a market study costs millions of dollars and thousands of hours. Plus it takes up to 5 years from report to actual implementation in cars. "It's not easy to get feedback from the customer. And you can never have the same volume that you get on social. You're limited to 100,000 people, maximum - not millions. It's a really big difference."
"We want to know what the customer actually thinks."
BMW sold 640,000 cars in China last year. That's more than 1,700 per day. If there's a problem they’re not aware of, every day they have the potential to anger and lose 1,700 customers!

"The in-house project was just too intensive"

BMW China had a small in-house team that was scraping social data and doing basic analytics. But the project was too intensive due to the volume of data and they faced setbacks from anti-crawling mechanisms. The in-house project was halted because the effort required to progress outweighed the resources BMW had available.

That's when they turned to MeasureChina to conduct a social listening project using AI in order to process and visualize millions of data points.

Now their in-house resources can focus on analysis and prediction rather than gather data.

"Financial services need to constantly innovate in China"

BMW had conducted social listening projects in other countries for other products before, but not for financial services in China. Sinan wanted to see if it was possible to answer key questions from the financial department using social data.
In China, FinTech companies are quickly growing, placing BMW's financial services unit is under market pressure. With a constant need for innovation, adapting products based on the customer is the most efficient way to maintain and grow their market share. In a nutshell, they needed to know how not to lose customers, and how to attract new ones away from their competitors.
"20% - 40% of the profits at BMW are made in the purchase of financial services, not just selling cars. It's a very, very important business unit for us."

"We squeezed a lot out of the budget"

MeasureChina helped BMW understand their Chinese customers better. In a 61 page document, all questions from the Financial services department were answered using data scraped from popular Chinese car forums. Included were details about demographics and customer sentiment for financial services along with an analysis of their competitor's market.
"To be honest, we squeezed a lot out of the budget."
The report was distributed to financial services, "a department so big", describes Sinan, "it's like a whole engine." From there it was used in different teams from leasing to financing to product management to gain a better understanding of online consumers.


BMW is set to become the biggest foreign automobile company in China, selling over half a million cars each year to total 30% of all sales at BMW (larger than the US and Germany combined). Keeping a finger on the pulse of consumer opinion is vital when dealing with such a voluminous market.
With the data collected by MeasureChina, it became clear that BMW's customers were satisfied with current financial services. For example, Sinan pointed out that key complaints related to interest rates were useful in informing the design of future services.
"You always want to have a kind of alarm system which tells you if customers online are happy or not."

Looking Forward

Sinan emphasized the need to know what customers were saying online was crucial to the continued success of BMW in China.

"As social media continues to grow in China and worldwide, it would be useful to get an online platform built by MeasureChina that each department can use by entering their own keywords to find the newest trends on social media." he says.
"I think, for now, financial services are satisfied with the results. For now. But I'm pretty sure they will come again next year."

MeasureChina for Social Listening

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