Browsing articles tagged with " Automotive"

The End May Matter More Than The Beginning 

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

The business world – and the automotive industry – has started to see just how important customer experience is to loyalty and retention. New and improved technologies are regularly released that help streamline the buying process and further enhance the customer experience. 


However, a customer can have an incredible experience in the beginning – perhaps it starts online then transitions to the store – the customer starts incredibly happy with the service, deal and everything else, but then one piece of that experience goes bad and it sabotages their whole perception.  

Take, for example, this story relayed by Forbes from a writer who wrote about how she had a great experience buying – until she met with the finance manager. According to the writer, even after politely declining F&I products, the manager continued to be pushy and aggressive to the point where she almost wanted to leave and never come back.  


The article points out that, according to Forrester’s CX Index, automotive customers who have had a positive emotional experience are seven times more likely to recommend the dealership. In fact, 91 percent who had a positive experience are likely to recommend the dealership, whereas only 13 percent of those who had negative experiences would. This impact extends into service as well with 85 percent of those having positive experiences recommending the dealership for service.  


The author’s point is that for many consumers how a transaction ends dictates the entire purchase experience. Everything can go smoothly throughout most of the process, but ending on a negative note can cause the customer to perceive the entire experience as negative.  


I’m pretty sure that many sales managers and salespeople have had, at one point or another in their careers, a customer blow out of finance and watched that “sale” drive away.  


Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not in any way blaming finance managers for negative experiences. The negative experience can happen anywhere in the buying process — not just in the finance office. The point is that any mishap or friction along the way can define the experience for the customer. Ensure that all of the processes involved in selling a customer a vehicle focus on what experience the customer will have. By so doing, you can increase customer satisfaction simply by ensuring that customers leave your store completely satisfied with all aspects of the process – not just some of them.  


We’ve all heard the saying that the happiest customers are typically the ones that the dealership made money on – and these are also the ones most likely to send their family and friends to buy from the dealership. If all it takes to create brand advocates, increase gross and referrals, is to ensure a positive customer experience, every dealership should be scrambling to ensure that the experience they offer is a great one! Focusing solely on moving metal can lead to volumebut may hurt loyalty and retention. Focus on the customer and everything else will take care of itself.  


What’s Your Company’s Fidget Spinner?

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

The most popular “thing” on the market right now are fidget spinners. In case you don’t know what fidget spinners are, they are little spinning toys that you hold between two fingers and… well… spin. Sounds like something similar to playing with a cardboard box, right? And some people think that’s about right. However, many people claim these “toys” have benefits above and beyond simply being a distraction. Some say they help children with ADHD by giving them something to do with their hands. Some say they reduce anxiety and are beneficial for relaxation. Regardless of whether you believe any of these things or not, fidget spinners are, for the moment, the pet rock of our time.  


Fidget spinners could be looked upon as the type of success every company should strive for. Why do I say that? Because fidget spinners are popular with everyone – kids and adults alike.  


All businesses, at some time, endeavor to get their employees to latch onto some important company idea and… well… love it. If employees buy in to your company’s mission statement, culture and ideals, your business should perform much better. But do you know what your company’s fidget spinner should really be? 


Your customers! 


If all your employees were crazy about servicing your customers and wanted to interact with them because they enjoyed it, your customers would return the sentiment! You see, we are all people persons at heart. Stick a person in a room alone for months and many go crazy from lack of human interaction. Humans are social beings and need that interaction to survive.  


But how do you get your employees to embrace and enjoy your customers just as much as society has embraced fidget spinners? 


That’s actually fairly simple. Just as your customers enjoy positive interaction, so do your employees. Positivity quickly spreads. When your employees treat your customers as welcome guests and humans, rather than just numbers or nuisances, your customers will also start treating your employees in the same manner. This will create a self-perpetuating cycle that benefits both customer experience and employee engagement.  


“How do I start?” You may ask. I can’t exactly tell my employees to treat my customers like fidget spinners?” 


Baby steps. Take the popular fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A as an example. One of the non-negotiable actions that an associate must follow is this: If a customer says, “Thank you,” the associate MUST say “My pleasure.” It may seem like a simple thing and, while a small gesture, it at the very least encourages civility. Associates who don’t follow this simple mandate cannot work for Chick-Fil-A.  


You’d be surprised how much patrons appreciate this small gesture. It also reinforces the value customers have to employees and creates an environment that’s customer-centric. Perhaps “My pleasure” could even be called Chick-Fil-A’s fidget spinner.  


Your fidget spinner doesn’t have to be some huge customer experience protocol. It could be as simple as “My pleasure.” Having something similar in your dealership can dramatically improve customer experience, employee engagement and company culture. And that’s a fidget spinner that every business should want.


Make Sure Your Customers Complain

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

An interesting title for a blog, I know. But an article on CustomerThink got me thinking, as it warns businesses they should be concerned if customers are NOT complaining.


The reasoning behind this is that if customers aren’t complaining, businesses assume everyone is happy when, in fact, that’s usually not the case. The theory the author posits is that customers could have simply given up on the business and may already be in the process of finding an alternative solution. In addition, not receiving complaints stifles a business’s ability to improve its operations and customer’s needs.


In the automotive industry, many dealerships rely on manufacturer survey results as the prime indicator as to how their dealership is performing in the area of customer experience. But all too often the survey results are misleading and not every customer completes the survey. Those who do tend to either rate the experience as perfect, or horrible. And, while manufacturers frown upon – and often prohibit – dealerships from “coaching” customers about the survey, that is frequently exactly what happens.


As bonuses and paychecks tend to be tied to these survey results, it becomes too important for salespeople not to discuss the survey with the customer in some way. There are dealerships who go as far as actually putting a filled out perfect survey on every salesperson’s desk, or in the finance offices, which the customers can see while waiting. Even if the salesperson doesn’t directly talk about the survey, the customers are influenced by what they see and so understand how the dealership would like them to respond when they receive the survey. If the experience was mostly positive for the consumer, many times they’ll acquiesce and reward the dealership with that perfect survey, even if the experience was in fact less than perfect and things need correcting.


The flip side of the coin is the upset customer. Those customers fill out the survey sometimes as an act of revenge. Of course, there are also times when customers are simply being honest and truly want to share their negative experience with the dealership, hoping that someone will care and the dealership will change.


With CSI surveys filled out this way, dealerships that rely on these manufacturer survey results to judge if they are doing a good job are seeing a picture that is far from accurate. As a result, mistakes, that could easily be rectified, are not being addressed as many customers choose to remain silent and give a perfect score.


Most dealers are looking at extremes – perfection (that may or may not have been perfect) and customer dissatisfaction. The truth is that most experiences don’t fall into these extreme categories, but rather someplace in the middle. Customer satisfaction isn’t black and white… it’s mostly gray. Without accurate feedback, dealerships will never be able to improve their experience. By not evolving or fixing problems, customers simply go away and the dealer never knows why.


If you want an accurate picture of how you are doing consider starting your own in-house feedback program through surveys sent from your dealership. These surveys can be of varying lengths – from a few simple questions to more intricate ones. They can be easily distributed via e-mail using transactional data in your CRM.


You can determine the ideal length by completion percentages – if the percentage is low, decrease the number of questions, or consider incentivizing completion through a drawing for services or a gift card.


The bottom line is that dealerships need to receive regular and honest customer feedback on their operations and customer experience across all touchpoints, in all departments. This feedback can provide you with an accurate picture of how your customers felt about their experience and give actionable data to make any needed changes.


These surveys can also provide information on employee performance when it comes to customer interactions, allowing you to identify employees who are engaged and customer-centric, along with those that are underperforming in areas.


In the end, customer feedback is essential to your dealership’s growth and survival. As the article states, “…when everything is going fine, something is not right.” Don’t get lulled into complacency with the illusion that everything is fine by relying solely on manufacturer surveys. If you do, you may well discover that everything isn’t fine – and by then, it may be too late.


Become the Reference Point in Your Industry

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

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  //  No Comments

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.

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