If customers are the life-blood of every business, why do some companies virtually ignore them?
The online ordering segment of the consumer marketplace is impersonal, but works well for simple purchases that are, for the most part, delivered to your door.
This is very different from the purchase of an automobile and its service and repair. In this segment, face-to-face relationships are still very important. It is surprising that there is such a wide variation in service levels, especially when OEMs are so focused on customer retention.
What do customers want?
They want attention, to feel they are important, to feel listened to, and to feel that their needs will be met. And then, of course they would like a quality product or service, since this is what your company specializes in. It seems like pretty basic stuff, right? Wrong!
Today we use social media, texting, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to communicate. I wonder if our focus on technology is decreasing our conversational skills and we have forgotten the importance of talking to each other.
I had a customer experience this week that I found to be surprisingly disappointing. No one said, “Hello, can I help you?” At least 10 different staff members walked past me without saying a word.
Finally, I asked, “Is this where I go for vehicle service?” and then I was treated cordially at best. I found my visit to be uncomfortable, awkward and I was glad when I was out of there. Not the type of service that makes customers want to go back! This bothered me more than the fact that my vehicle was not ready when promised, or that this was the second time I had the vehicle in for the same problem.
How you make a customer feel is the most important factor in creating a great experience and a lasting impression. You only have one chance to do it—with every single customer interaction. And it’s the only thing the customer will remember. Providing a quality product or service is expected. The only way to really stand out is to ensure your front-line staff treat every customer like a VIP.
Back to basics
In an automotive industry that’s full of change and pressure, it’s still important to focus on the basics. Regardless of whether you are an OEM dealer, body shop or other service provider, I suggest that you review your customer service or even consider having a “mystery shopper” gather feedback on your team’s performance. In a competitive world, it could make a big difference to your success. And don’t forget to treat people like people!
Greet every customer with a smile and say hello.
Know the names of the customers scheduled, and use their names when speaking to them.
Communicate clearly, explain the process and set the customer’s expectations up front.
Make small talk! This customer is a person, not a computer or cell phone. Have a pleasant conversation. Ask how they are. Make them feel welcome!
After the transaction, say thank you!