Steve Jobs-like genius or Orwellian nightmare?
Before the day of self-checkout lanes at the supermarket, gas stations had attendants that made sure you could stay in your car while they provided the fill-up, checked tire pressure, washed windshields, and yelled at dumb patrons to stop smoking (everybody used to smoke back then, right?). Whether or not lowered rates of tobacco use or American’s adversity to tipping killed off this practice, Tesla is keen on bringing it back by rolling out a new valet service at its Supercharging stations.
So far, only the most heavily used stations have gotten these Tesla fairies and they only pop up during peak hours. However, they serve to establish a connection between company and customers as well as alleviate some of the headaches associated with...well, plugging a socket into your car. According to Tesla, these valets aren’t supposed to take your keys and drive the car, but owners are claiming that valets park their Teslas when stations are full only to move it to an open station when a spot opens up. In addition, these "Charging Experience Specialists" are supposed to "manage onsite customer demand, understand customer feedback, conduct field research, and educate customers on products and services, including optimal charging options."
With the Model 3 hitting roads soon, this may offer yet another incentive for buyers. One interesting aspect about this move is that it shows how Tesla is moving towards a very Silicon Valley-esque way of interacting with its customers. Not only do Tesla buyers have to bypass dealerships and go to a Tesla store, but now they have a "Genius Bar" of sorts where Tesla technicians interact with customers, and create a community atmosphere much like Apple does. Soon this may morph into a maintenance and repair crew that will allow owners to have a worry-free ownership experience. Only time and sales figures will tell us how this approach works for Tesla, but if it does, our car buying and ownership experience may change forever.