Browsing articles from "May, 2017"

Become the Reference Point in Your Industry

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Become the Reference Point in Your Industry

We all have reference points. When someone asks you, “What’s the best steak you’ve ever had?” you have an answer. In fact, not only do you have an answer, but every steak you eat after that will be compared to it – whether consciously or subconsciously.  

When enough people develop the same opinion, that steak restaurant becomes their reference point for anything concerning steak. And, because of that, they spread word about their satisfaction to others, which, in turn, may make that steak restaurant another person’s reference point. In the end, if the restaurant becomes the reference point for enough people, it transforms into what any retailer works to become – a household name.  

interesting article on CustomerThink shared tidbits about the rewards from having a great customer service culture, along with how to become a reference point and a household name. 

Following are a few tips the article shared that may be helpful in your dealership: 

  1. Improve employee engagement – Employee engagement and customer satisfaction go hand-in-hand. If your front-line employees aren’t happy and committed to your dealership’s success, customers will leave your business unimpressed (at the least) and unsatisfied (at the worst). 

  1. Improve employee training – If your employees don’t know how to do their jobs, can’t do them effectively, or are unable to handle the customer when things go wrong (which they will), customers will get irritated and your dealership could lose that customer, along with  future customers due to negative word-of-mouth.  

  1. Improve staff retention – Do I even need to explain why any business – much less car dealerships – wouldn’t want to improve their staff retention? 

  1. Improve customer loyalty – Of course any business wants loyal customers. But creating and keeping them requires consistently great service. This is a much harder challenge as loyal customers won’t stick around long if they have too many bad experiences — and the definition of “too many” varies from customer to customer. Often, one could be enough. However, most loyal customers will give you more than one chance. The problem is that you don’t know which will, and which won’t. So, ensure that your customers receive a consistent experience, regardless of which employee services them.  

  1. Get more referrals – Everyone wants referrals, especially car dealerships. Customers who are referred by a friend of associate tend to come in with less anxiety, are less combative, more willing to take advice and more trusting in the dealership and salesperson.  

  1. Improve profits – This, of course, comes from all of the above. You’ll spend less keeping a customer, less training new employees, less acquiring new customers and maintain higher profits — in both sales and service.


Is 2 Percent Good Enough for You?

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Is 2 Percent Good Enough for You?

Every dealer wants a nice healthy portion of their market share. But what if it was only 2 percent? Would that be good enough? Probably not.

Well, according to a recent interview in Automotive News, North American chief for Mazda, Masahiro Moro, thinks it is… However, in the article he states that there’s a difference between 2 percent and a “good” 2 percent, which mainly ties back into higher transaction prices and lower incentives. With a better customer experience, Moro feels Mazda can lower vehicle inventories and increase dealership profitability.

Of course, that’s not his ultimate goal. Mazda has seen brand loyalty grow from 30 percent in 2011, to 39 percent in 2016 – and that’s just the beginning. Moro would ultimately like to see it surpass 50 percent, but his current focus is on small milestones along the way, his ultimate goal being Mazda having the highest brand loyalty in the industry.

While certainly an admirable goal, it’s a steep hill to climb given Mazda’s limited models. That being said, he has the right idea… one which applies to any business seeking to increase customer loyalty, revenue or retention — and that is small steps. Setting any goal too high without a plan to accomplish it can overwhelm employees and will more than likely fail.

However, don’t misunderstand me, knowing the destination is important. But, if you don’t know how you’re going to get there, and lack plans for each stage, it will be hard to accomplish. Society is constantly changing, as are your customers. What may work to improve customer loyalty and retention today, may look different five years from now.

It would be great if we could all simply make a business plan that played itself out to completion — but life intervenes. So keep your mind open, your ears to the wall and eyes on the prize and be willing to change and adapt when and if it’s necessary. You’ll find that perhaps that 2 percent IS really enough… for the moment.


5 Things That Make a Great Customer Experience

By Mike Gorun  //  June, May, Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on 5 Things That Make a Great Customer Experience

Customer experience is increasingly important in business. Retail shops now compete for customer wallets with behemoths such as Amazon. As a result, stores now have to prove to customers will receive a superior experience more valuable than the convenience of clicking a button to have their product show up at their door in 2 days.

In addition, customer experience can be a fuzzy concept, with many definitions floating around. While most know what a great customer experience FEELS like, it’s very hard to define. And, if you can’t define it, you can’t create it.

I came across an excellent article that outlined an interview with Brainshark COO Diane Gordon. In the interview, Diane shared the best definition I have seen of customer experience, outlining the five components that make a great customer experience. I thought I would share these points and how they can apply to our industry:

  1. Relationship is mutually beneficial. For dealers to build customer loyalty, customers must feel as if they are not just a transaction. People don’t want to feel as if all they mean to you is money in the cash register. They’d rather feel that they’re helping your dealership succeed by paying money in exchange for you helping solve a problem for them – and that you are doing it with genuine and sincere intent.
  2. Customers feel valued/respected. Remember the classic TV show “Cheers.” One line in the theme song resonates and illustrates this point, “You want to go where everybody knows your name.” Who doesn’t like walking into a business they frequent regularly and be greeted by name. Why does this make a difference? Because when this happens, customers realize that a business values them enough to remember them. You can also make a customer feel valued and respected through quality loyalty programs, and by taking the time to listen to customer feedback and then act upon it.
  3. They believe doing business with you is easy. Everybody wants easy. That’s exactly how Amazon has grown so fast, put some companies out of business and disrupted entire industries. However, don’t immediately confuse easy as fast. There are things customers want done quickly, as time is valuable to them. But sometimes personalized attention, which makes the process easier and a better experience for the customer, can mean a longer process. Every customer will have different needs and wants. The ability to tailor the experience based on that particular customer is the key to your customers knowing that doing business with you is easy.
  4. Sense that employees love working there. Genuinely happy employees are one of the best ways to broadcast your dealership is a good place for customers to do business. Typically, when employees love working for you, that translates into better customer service, empathy for customers, and the desire to ensure your business succeeds by providing extraordinary customer service.
  5. Feeling that they (the customer) are part of a strong community. Feeling included has been important to most people their whole lives – from grade school sports and clubs all the way to the present. When your customers can tell that other customers are happy and enjoy doing business with you, it encourages them to feel the same way. So be sure to have a good review program in place that promotes good reviews, allows customers to post reviews and that has a way of contacting and handling any negative customer reviews.

A great customer experience is something that all businesses should strive for. But keep in mind that it is not just something you define, but rather something your customers do. Take time to examine these five components to a great customer experience as they relate to your business.


Clever Interactions with Customers Create Customer Loyalty

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Clever Interactions with Customers Create Customer Loyalty

Service Satisfaction IndicatorAs consumers increasingly shift their shopping online, choosing to skip visits to traditional retailers, it’s become difficult for businesses to get that all important relationship-building face-to-face time.

In the automotive industry, a similar shift is happening. Industry disrupters are taking the whole purchasing process online, forcing major automotive companies to develop technology that allows consumers to do the same thing, but directly through the dealership.

However, the one thing that many fail to realize is that – without physical interaction – it’s hard to establish trust. A key differentiator franchised dealers still have going for them right now is their service departments. But, even there, customers want convenience, fast transactions and, most of all, good communication.

So, the most forward-thinking dealers take advantage of technology that updates customers via text message and allows approval of service recommendations online or via a smartphone.

And, some dealers are really personalizing the customer experience with this technology.

A friend of a friend, Blake, shared a wonderful interaction he had with a repair facility after his new Jeep, just two weeks old, was stolen. When the Jeep was recovered, it was in poor condition. As Blake waited for his vehicle to be repaired, he occasionally received text messages from the repair facility, updating him on the status of his vehicle. Blake is well known for his sense of humor and he sent a funny reply to one of those updates. Surprisingly, the repair shop played along and this resulted in a truly wonderful customer interaction, one that Blake will not soon forget. As a result, he has widely shared it with his family, friends and associates.

You can read the conversation for yourself.



Yes, believe it or not, this is a real conversation!

Blake got such a kick out of it that he shared it on social media, where many of his friends also found the humor in it. The repair shop brilliantly injected personality into its communications and engaged the consumer. Blake was certainly frustrated that his 2-week old car needed to be in for repairs and the clever banter back and forth with the car repair shop injected a little light-hearted humor into the conversation and accomplished its goal – to keep Blake informed on the status of his vehicle.

As a result, the experience with this car repair shop is certainly memorable for Blake – and in a very good way. The communication had a very personal touch and is obviously not automated. This personal interaction has already led to exposure via word-of-mouth on his social network.

And, there is a very strong chance that, should Blake need repair services in the future, he will return.

Today, customer experience is King. It’s more important than ever to stand out, provide memorable experiences and personalized interactions in order to differentiate your dealership.

This car repair shop figured out a way to personalize the experience by interjecting humor, while keeping the customer informed. By so doing, it will definitely stand out to its customers, and, these unique experiences and interactions should lead to increased retention, word-of-mouth customer acquisition, exposure and, ultimately, more customer loyalty.

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