The fact that dealerships get a bad rap when it comes to customer experience seems unfair.
As consumers, we don’t walk into Target and start arguing about the price of towels with sales associates.
Yes, I see that they’re $5.99, but how much did you pay for them?
Perhaps a few stingy dealerships ripped customers off and ruined it for all dealerships … made customers wait seven hours, presented a final deal higher than what was agreed upon, regularly aimed to land eight-pounders, etc.
Whatever the case, there’s no question that consumers want a better car-buying experience today.
Most dealerships aren’t pointing fingers and casting off blame. Instead, what I see is that dealers view this as an opportunity to improve things – they’re taking matters into their own hands and working to impress their customers (like many have done from Day One!). However, it can be difficult to be objective and know whether your team is succeeding in this.
British Rail: A Case Study
One of my favorite stories regarding the question of customer experience (CX) occurred when British Rail had a falloff in business several years ago. The company went looking for an ad agency to help bring them back up.
They scheduled an appointment with a top London agency and arrived to be greeted by a rude receptionist who made them wait. A dressed-down person finally came by and leisurely led them to a dirty conference room containing trash and plates of stale food. There, they waited some more, while a few people casually drifted in and out of the room, dismissing them and their attempts to ask for assistance.
When the Rail executives had had enough, they got up to leave and were stopped by an agency executive. As you probably guessed, he informed them that this wasn’t how the agency usually operated – they had staged the entire thing to mirror the experience Rail provides its customers.*
The agency got the account!
Eliminating Weak Points
The moral of the British Rail story is to change what needs changing. For dealerships, this typically involves speed of service and personalization, both of which can be addressed by adopting clear processes.
Processes solve many CX issues because they involve people. And ultimately it’s your people who have to be good for your company to be good.
If they aren’t given the right tools for doing their work, however, not even the best people will succeed.
Here are four areas where the right tool will help your team meet CX goals.
Productivity. To make money, you have to sell cars. Perhaps the best thing about processes is they make car-buying easier and faster by automating (or nearly automating) repetitive steps.
With processes in place, you’ll easily determine and eliminate unnecessary steps or bottlenecks that are slowing you down. This not only allows employees to work more efficiently, but it also gives them time to focus on the important stuff – like having casual, relationship-building conversations with customers. Something that most likely comes natural to them.
Transparency. For this one, you’ll walk a fine line, and that line is between accountability and micro-managing. You want your team to be recognized for the great work they’re doing, not to feel like they’re being scrutinized over their every move. Using the right tool to put processes in place helps your team stay on task and respond to customers quickly.
It also helps them feel acknowledged, which is huge. Did they offer a customer an upgrade at the right time? Did they call the right customer and have the right conversation? Look for a tool that helps implement processes because it gives your team the right actions to take. With visibility into employees’ efforts, you can see when to give them a few words of encouragement or even celebrate different milestones.
Focus. Keep the end game (your customers) in mind with every process. How long will they be waiting? Where will they be while they’re waiting? With the right tool, if you see a customer waiting, you should also be able to see where they are in the process. Is there a way to speed things up?
The tool itself can also help keep the customer at the center, because conversations revolve around customer needs at that precise time. Due to the fact that things will be moving along more smoothly, employees will have more time to respond to customer questions and needs that come up.
Consistency. Nothing keeps things moving like consistency! Consistency leads to routines, and routines build momentum. Consistency also makes way for innovation because your team isn’t focusing on all of the little, repetitive, sometimes mindless details anymore. Plus, once your dealership is running like a well-oiled machine, customers will come to expect this. That’s a good thing! Keeping things consistent ensures their satisfaction.
Consistency is also helpful for training new employees. No need to reinvent the wheel – just plug the green pea into the system.
Transforming the Future
“Our brains are like closets. Over time they are filled with things we no longer use – things that don’t fit. Every once in a while they need to be cleaned out.” From Forget for Success, by Eric Harvey and Sarah Ventura.
Building amazing customer experiences through processes requires embracing change. Your team members who want to provide the best experiences will be excited about processes that work – look for a leader to have your back, and to encourage the rest of the team to have your back.
Nobody wants to belong to a business or industry that the public is wary of, especially if it’s undeserved. You’re not alone in pushing for change!
*From: Change Is Good … You Go First, by Mac Anderson and Tom Feltenstein, 2019