Without a dealership network to act as an early warning system to catch software glitches and manufacturing issues, Rivian will task its Guides with monitoring vehicle quality once U.S. deliveries begin in June, in addition to building personal relationships with clients.
Canadian deliveries are to start “at the end of the year,” according to a company spokesperson. Preorders are open in Canada.
In a Twitter posting over the weekend, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe posted a video that details how the electric truck startup plans to interact with its customers. Each will be assigned a Guide, a single point of contact they can call or e-mail directly with questions and concerns and provide feedback. In an announcement on its website, the company promises, “You won’t be transferred away to another department or made to talk to a bot.”
The Guides — who will “sit just steps from our assembly line” at Rivian’s plant in Normal, Ill. — will be assigned to customers for the duration of their ownership.
Speaking directly to customers who preordered an R1T pickup or R1S SUV in the video, Scaringe said: “The Rivian Guides program makes sure that every one of you has an individual, a person you can call or email and ask any questions and provide any feedback, you can go to for anything Rivian. These guys have spent a ton of time getting to know the product, getting to know the company. They’re passionate, energetic and can’t wait to spend time with you as you go through your entire ownership process.”
Rivian’s launch schedule remains on track, with the R1T arriving in the United States in June and the R1S coming two months later. The Canadian timeline is a little later. This is a crucial time for Rivian. With the first salable vehicles just weeks away from rolling down the production line, the company is working to convert customers who put down deposits into purchasers.
Rivian plans to begin pairing early customers with their Guides in about six weeks, once training is completed. “Introductions will be one to one, so it will take time for everyone to meet their Guide,” Rivian said on its website. “When your Guide reaches out, the final ordering process begins. From configuration questions to scheduling delivery — and all your adventures once your Rivian arrives — your Guide will be with you.”
Rivian spokeswoman Amy Mast said the Guides will act as quality watchdogs and quickly report any customer concerns, but that isn’t the main focus of their jobs. “The intent is to offer the most personalized customer experience,” Mast said.
Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Guidehouse Insights, believes the Guides can help Rivian’s launch go smoother. But he cautions that the company may have trouble maintaining a high level of personalized service.
“With a brand new vehicle from a new company with first-time customers, I think it is a brilliant idea for these Guides to provide assistance and answer questions,” he said. “Rivian is going to be coming out of the gate as a more premium brand than more traditional trucks. It is going to be at the higher end of the truck market. To give customers that experience is a really smart thing to do. The challenge with this is that it works great at first. But it’s not something that is going to scale.”