Mercedes-Benz has developed an iPhone application that's free to some 450,000 people who use its U.S. financial services division to lease and purchase autos. The application, available at Apple's App Store, lets customers make payments and view account information from iPhone and iPod Touch devices.
"The company recognized the need for a mobile platform," said Jeffrey Haase, a business analyst with Mercedes-Benz Financial, who helped develop the application. Internal research showed that the use of iPhones and BlackBerrys is about evenly split among Mercedes-Benz customers, Haase said, but the company decided to develop for Apple devices first, since the app would work on both iPhones and iPod Touches. The company will likely develop a BlackBerry mobile app at a later date, he said.
The timeline for the app was aggressive; planning began in July and the app was finished in September, Haase said. The app lets users view account information, such as payments made or due, or the maturity date of an auto lease, and lets users make instant payments from their bank accounts to Mercedes-Benz Financial. It's designed to save the time required to boot up and make a payment from a laptop or desktop or, of course, mail in a payment.
Account holders must register online at Mercedes-BenzFinancial.com to set up a user password and identification. The application presents a limited amount of customer information that's pulled from the same account database customers would access from a desktop or laptop. Each page of the application is limited to about five fields, which makes it easier to view on a small screen.
The app includes directions and maps to local dealers, links to insurance offerings and hotel room upgrades through Mercedes-Benz' hotel partners, and links and phone numbers to customer service reps. Customers can also view more than one account from their apps.
Mercedes-Benz joins other consumer-oriented companies, including Pizza Hut, Kraft, and Whole Foods, in developing apps for customers. It is the first automotive financial services company to deploy an iPhone app.
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