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5 Things That Make a Great Customer Experience

By Mike Gorun  //  June, May, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

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  //  No Comments

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.


Why the Least Interesting Thing for Consumers Will Be to Drive a Car

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

At the recent Adobe Summit, executive vice president and general manager, Brad Rencher, advised businesses that if they wish to survive in the future, they have to become “experience businesses.” He feels this is what will separate market leaders from the rest of the pack. In fact, he stated, “Automotive companies are transforming into experience businesses. In the past, they sold cars. But cars are evolving into ‘experience pods,’ where technology personalizes your experience with music, playlists, temperature controls, speed settings and more. Pretty soon, the least interesting thing you will do with your car will be to drive it.”

This, of course, offers an interesting dilemma. If cars become more of an afterthought, and the experience becomes the primary allure of cars, what does that mean for dealers?

Rencher offered these four tenets that successful experience-focused business follow:

  1. Know and respect customers (and know what they want before they ask)
  2. Speak in one voice
  3. Transparent technology
  4. Delight

Consumers are changing. They have less and less time and are used to getting things on THEIR terms. As I am sure you all know, it has become more and more about the customer experience. It is important today to ensure that the car buying process is as seamless as possible and delivers the experience that your customers desire.

With the many integrations and new, upgraded technology on the horizon; combined with a future of autonomous cars; younger generations will not be focused on what vehicle they are driving – or not driving – but rather what they can do while commuting from point A to point B.


Customer Satisfaction Failures Can impact your Wallets

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments


Unhappy and Happy Smileys on Visual ScreenIn the wake of the backlash from the recent United Airlines incident, it has been widely reported that many airline CEO’s salaries are, at least in part, connected to customer satisfaction scores. In the case of United’s CEO Oscar Munoz, poor customer satisfaction ratings can cost him about $500,000 in bonuses. The CEOs of Southwest Airlines and Delta have similar contractual clauses.

On top of that, one poor experience – especially if it’s perceived by many as being egregious – can, by itself, ruin an airline’s entire quarter, or even the year. In fact, in the case of United Airlines, at one point their valuation dropped about $1 billion, according to USA Today.

But what about an industry closer to our hearts, that is similarly hyper-competitive and also has financial repercussions for poor customer satisfaction scores?

Yes, I am talking about the automotive industry.

Manufacturers penalize franchisees that fail to meet customer satisfaction expectations through loss of revenue including stair step money and other incentives. And some dealers even include CSI expectations in their managers’ and salespeople pay plans. Failure to meet these goals can have a trickle-down effect that costs everyone in the dealership money.

Poor customer satisfaction can also lead to outraged customers who defect to your competitors – taking friends and family with them. This can then force your dealership to increase spending on acquisition, which is much more expensive than retention.

As consumer choice continues to expand, customer experience is increasingly more important. Customers are no longer willing to put up with a bad experience – and they are more than happy to share that poor experience with the world via online review sites and social media.

It really doesn’t matter whether the customer is right or wrong. It’s about how the experience is perceived. That specific United flight needed four volunteers to leave the plane. Three complied without incident. One customer chose not to. While it’s probably safe to say the other three people also had a poor experience and were inconvenienced, we don’t know their story. However, because that one person was treated extremely poorly, and it was captured on video by several customers, we know what happened on that flight. And, because of that, while it did not happen to them directly, other United customers are cutting up their United loyalty and branded credit cards. They are outraged that a company they had been loyal to would allow such a poor customer experience. A single bad experience – and arguably poor employee handling at that time – put United at risk and became the catalyst for a mass defection.

While your dealership probably doesn’t have to worry about an incident of this magnitude, it’s all a matter of scale. The United incident is simply a good illustration of the backlash that can happen due to a poor customer experience, along with poor employee decisions and actions in the heat of the moment.

In the end, it’s far less expensive to suck it up and fix the problem and/or apologize, than it is to take the chance that a customer chooses to share their experience with the world.

Customer experience has grown into one of the biggest differentiator for any business– so the choice is to either embrace that change and ensure a great customer experience, or watch your customers flock to competitors.


Porsche Plans to Bring some Disney Magic to its Dealerships

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

disneyIt’s no surprise that Disney has created one of the largest groups of loyal customers in the world. Of course, this isn’t by accident. Everything Disney does is by design. According to an article in Automotive News, Porsche wants to do a similar thing and create its own brand loyalists by bringing a little Disney magic to its dealerships.

Porsche has enlisted the Disney Institute to help train all of its customer-facing dealership personnel. It has also asked dealers to create a new position in their stores, Customer Experience Manager, responsible for ensuring staff embrace customer experience. The Customer Experience Manager will also watch and analyze customer satisfaction in their stores at each point of contact.

Customer loyalty begins at the first point of contact a customer has with a dealership. Regardless of if the first experience is in service, via the Internet, by phone, or in person, if this first experience is poor, it’s much harder to win over their loyalty. Through creating a company culture that focuses on the customer experience, similar to Disney, Porsche is on the right track to increase their Customer Satisfaction scores, along with dealership and brand loyalty.

The Disney Institute is a world-renowned training group that has ongoing relationships with other manufacturers, including GM. It has trained dealers in several areas, including leadership and management skills, and attendees largely have very positive things to say about the training.

Low CSI scores can cost your dealership thousands of dollars in lost OEM incentives, to say nothing of the loss of sales and service revenue and the scramble to replace those customers, along with high acquisition costs.

Take a look at what Porsche is doing and consider analyzing your customer experience at every touchpoint. Strive to improve areas that are lacking and reward any staff that perform well. Whether you choose to send your staff to the Disney Institute or not, an internal program designed to improve the customer experience at your dealership can certainly mean future business and revenue growth.

It’s great to see a manufacturer take this move to improve the customer experience and thereby loyalty. Hopefully, other manufacturers and dealerships will follow their lead. It can only mean an improved perception of dealerships by consumers. And that will lead to more business for everyone.

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