While it might feel like we’re at the end of 2018 with a month and a half left in the year, another way to look at it is that we’ve still got a tenth of the calendar left in front of us. Just as you can get a lot done in the last 45 minutes to an hour of your work day, there’s still a lot that can be done to improve your dealership customer experience before closing the books on 2018. Here’s five suggestions on how to spend the remaining weeks:
1. Ask Your Customers for Anything but Time
French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte famously told his generals, “You can ask me for anything you like, except time.” It’s a sign of progress that your customers today feel the same way an emperor did in the 19th century, which is why one of the quickest ways to lose their business is to make them think you’re wasting their time.
Take time yourself to follow customers through both the sales and service customer experiences and identify where you could shave time, even a few seconds here or there. How long is the customer waiting while information is entered or retrieved from a system? How long do they wait to interact with a cashier or service representative? How long are they waiting for information to get from one of your employees to the next, or for their vehicle to be pulled around?
Survey after survey finds convenience is king for today’s customer – especially the next generation you’re hoping to build a relationship with now for decades to come. Find ways to make the entire process as short and efficient as possible, and then make a point of telling your customers what you’re doing. Don’t wait for them to notice that you’re finding little ways to make things move faster, but rather train your staff to share that information: “We’re doing things this way now because it lets me get you out of here faster.”
The more your customers believe you’re making a sincere effort not to waste their time, the more they’re going to be willing to entrust you with it in the future. A reputation for respecting your customers’ time is a powerful relationship marketing tool to drive future sales.
2. Who’s Waiting, and What Could They Be Doing?
Rethink your service waiting area. You’ve probably already figured out chargers and easy-to-access Wi-Fi are the new “doughnuts and free coffee,” but what’s next? These rooms tend to try to be something for everyone, but in the process, they can fail to meet the specific needs of your working customers. For someone who’s had to take unexpected time away from the office to deal with a car repair issue, it can be frustrating to try to stay connected to work while young children chatter, and game shows play on the television. Consider creating an adults-only service waiting area targeted at businesspeople, with minimal noise distractions, seating conducive to laptop use and potentially even a printer or fax machine.
Take a look at the next hotel “business center” you pass and consider what value its amenities might provide to your service customers. This is also a great time to make customers feel like they’re valued: Have a dealership manager take the opportunity to ask them in person what they thought of their wait, and what would have made it better: “We’re thinking of making some changes and would value your opinion.”
3. Revisit the Rules
Are your CRM rules still reflecting the way you want your customers cared for? Too many dealerships “set and forget” their CRM rules, and too few get dealership leaders in sales, service and F&I together to go through the rules together and ensure they reflect reality and best practices.
Your CRM is a critical engine for dealership sales – and, given the low cost of retaining an existing customer compared to the cost of acquiring a new one – profitability. Take the time before the end of the year to revisit those CRM rules about who gets contact, how often, for what and by whom, and make sure that they’re leveraging your CRM investment to its maximum potential.
4. Spread the Social Love
Keep your team connected to the digital world. While social media platforms are great for sharing special offers, news and other information with customers, they’re also a source of potential friction if your customer-facing staff don’t know what’s being said.
Do you have a process for making sure your sales and service teams know what’s being said on your social media channels and website? Do they all know what digital coupons are out there, or what vehicles are being featured today?
You can’t trust your team to be constantly watching Twitter – and you probably wouldn’t want them to, anyway. But with today’s customers virtually always starting their shopping online, it’s critical for dealerships to connect the (often offsite) digital team with the people who will be the next point of contact for those customers, ensuring there’s no confusion about the featured deal or coupon of the day.
5. Use the Free Time
We’re entering the slower period for foot traffic in the dealership, so this is a great time to get things done. Use this time for sales and service staff training, getting them up to speed on new tools as well as refreshing the things you let slide during the busier times. You don’t need to send people off to all-day seminars – although if you’re going to this is the right time – but you’ve got more time now for the kind of 15-minute or half-hour sessions that make a real difference in the long term. Whether it’s sales techniques, product knowledge, upsell opportunities, market information, internal policies or other useful knowledge, take advantage of the opportunity to make your team more efficient and effective.
If you’ve got maintenance or renovations to do to customer-facing areas that could be disruptive, this is the best time to get that done with the least possible interruption or inconvenience. Carpet a little worn in the service waiting area? Time to repaint the walls in the service bay? Need to reconfigure the sales team’s desks to make more room? November and December are the right time to get that done.
How Can automotiveMastermind Help?
With a number of tools out there to help you maximize your customer experience, the automotiveMastermind technology will help give you a major advantage over the competition. Nearly 70 percent of our dealer partners said they were at least 50 percent more productive after implementation. More than 70 percent said conversations with customers have also improved.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you improve your overall customer experience.