Creating a Positive Customer Experience
Recently, I’ve been shopping for a new tow vehicle so my family can load up the camper and enjoy the great outdoors this summer.
In my search for the right vehicle, I’ve visited a number of dealerships with various levels of personal service. As I reflected on my experience with each dealership, I thought about the goals of each dealer and the type of customer experience they wanted to provide.
Each dealership had a different approach when meeting with me and following up after my visit.
One dealer said that they were a low-pressure store, made a copy of my driver’s license, threw me the keys and said, “We’ll see you in a few.” I took the test drive, gave back the keys and haven’t heard from them since.
Another dealer gathered my information and grabbed the keys to ride along with me. I’ve heard from this dealer once via an automated email.
Finally, another dealer seemed inconvenienced that I would even want to look at a vehicle, let alone take it for a test drive. I’m not surprised that I haven’t heard from this dealer.
I like what Danny Meyer, restaurateur, and author, said about business: “… what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.”
What the Customer Wants
Do you know what experience your customers are looking for? Do you know what experience you want to provide your customers? Do you know what “uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships” exist in your store? People go RVing to find the unique human experience that accompanies being part of nature and seeing the country. They look to you, the dealer, to help provide an uplifting outcome on their road of human experiences and relationships. As I visit with dealerships across the country, I’ve seen many ways that they strive to attain this goal. Here is a list of five ways you can ensure a positive experience for your customers.
1. Cultivate and empower your employees. Your employees are dealing with your customers every day. They need to have the proper tools, training, and understanding of your business mission and values to provide the best experience for your customers. When was the last time you reviewed your business mission statement and values with your employees? At CDK Global, we have five core values that our employees strive to operate by as we carry out our mission statement. They are:
As your employees understand your mission and core values, they’ll be able to execute your vision for your business. The most successful dealers that I see make ongoing training a priority. This will help provide the consistent results your customers want.
1. Integrity: Integrity is defined as firm adherence to a code of especially moral values. This builds trust between our clients and us.
2. Simplicity (make it easier): Drive simplicity through every aspect of our business to improve our clients’ experience.
3. Innovation (drive innovation): Always look for new and smarter solutions
4. Partnership (value partnership): Work side-by-side with our customers to help them get the job done.
5. Results (be insightful and comprehensive): Deliver actionable insights that improve our customers’ business performance.
2. Keep in Touch. What does that mean, you ask? Many of you use a CRM (customer relationship management) system. Often, it becomes a catch-all that sits idle or a collection of customer information that does nothing. If this is you, then it’s time to dust it off and get back to using that system to keep in touch with your customers. What better experience can a customer have than receiving a “Happy Birthday” email, a thank-you for your business note, or a personal phone call to let them know that you are thinking of them? A few years ago, I purchased a vehicle from a local dealership. Since then, I’ve received thank-you notes, coupons and special offers. I will visit this dealer again because they are providing a positive experience by using their CRM to keep in touch.
3. Recognize and reward your customers. It’s human nature to want recognition for our accomplishments – no matter how large or small. Why not use this desire for recognition to help improve your customer’s experience? There are many options available. You can implement an automated loyalty rewards program that automatically tracks customer purchases through your dealer management software. You can allocate points for purchases that can be redeemed for discounts on future purchases. This recognition rewards your customers for their patronage and business. In return, you can encourage them to return to your store instead of a competitor’s store to redeem their points. I’ve driven as many as 30 miles to stay at a hotel chain where I accrue loyalty reward points. If you are unable to implement an automated loyalty reward program, a simple VIP program can provide another way to give special recognition and services to your customers. A good starting point can be based around the Pareto principle, or the 80/20 Rule. In other words, it means that 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers. Your dealer management system should be able to help you identify the top 20 percent of your customer base and provide a starting target group for implementing a VIP program. These are the customers that pay your bills. Recognizing them for their business and offering VIP status with incentives will encourage additional spending. As the program grows, you can add more VIP levels to encourage those customers outside of that 20 percent group to upgrade. The recognition and reward as a consumer is a great driving factor you use to improve your customer’s experience.
4. Source parts faster: The RV business can be difficult when it comes to having the right parts in stock. With so many manufacturers and options on the market, it can be difficult to even find the right parts. We know it’s not realistic to stock all parts for walk in customers, so make sure you create a network of dealers and local suppliers that will help you quickly source those parts. There are part locator services available that allow you to identify the availability of specific items at a vendor’s warehouse and other dealers in your network. This will help you to source those parts faster and allow you to manage your customers’ expectations about the delivery timeline. Another tip for providing a great customer experience is to make sure you work closely with your service department. They should be scheduling their service work. Do a daily review of their service schedule so you can identify parts needed for upcoming repairs in advance. This will allow you to have the parts needed once the RV comes in to the shop. The key is making sure you clearly communicate with your customers. This becomes more important for those custom interior items being covered under warranty, or for replacement. Be sure to explain the situation and provide regular updates as the parts are ordered and installation is scheduled. This will provide a premier customer experience.
5. Make sure your service customers don’t fall through the cracks. For many of you throughout the country, the season that your customers can get out and use their RV is short. So the last thing a customer wants is to have their RV sitting in your service shop. Sometimes the wait is legitimate and out of your control, but sometimes it’s simply because a repair order has slipped through the cracks. Having the proper systems in place for tracking, scheduling and follow up is critical. Your dealer management software should be able to provide you with processes to manage your repair orders. Make sure you understand the tools you have available and then train the rest of the team on how the process works. Make sure you stay in touch with your customer. This should start before their service appointment with a reminder phone call, text or email. When they pull into the service area greet them by name and let them know when you will have a status update. Finally, if you say you are going to do something – make sure that you do it. Customers understand that there will be hiccups. They simply expect to have an honest and open relationship with you.
It's All About the Customer You know your business and what experience you want to provide your customers. These five strategies will hopefully provide some insight and a reminder on ways you can provide a positive experience for your customers. Remember – business is about how you make people feel!