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Today's market dictates that to succeed as a dealer, you have to create a great customer experience. You have to provide value and give the customer a reason to come back. A great customer experience is now one of the strongest value propositions any dealership can use to increase customer loyalty and retention.
Dealerships are going to great lengths to create an exceptional customer experience—installing movie theaters, opening coffee shops, and adding other luxuries in an attempt to make a customer's visit as pleasant as possible.
However, you need to remember in all this that your employees must be just as engaged and loyal. Customer retention begins with your employees. Unless you have a dedicated staff who are truly invested in the success of your dealership, you can never create a company culture that fosters customer relationships.
Your front line employees are the face of your company. If they aren't engaged in your business, with a true desire to assist your customers, the motorist experience will never live up to its potential.
Schedule Regular Employee Meetings
So, how do you identify whether your employees are engaged, or if they are simply working for a paycheck?
One way is to schedule regular meetings with your employees. If you simply wait for an annual performance review, it might be too late. Studies show that most employees who fail simply don't know what their employers expect from them. In these meetings, managers should be clear and concise about what they expect employees to achieve or accomplish. Elaborate on the goals or responsibilities your dealership has for its employees and collaborate to create a specific plan to achieve them.
These meetings should also be used as a time for employees to share their frustrations and tell you any ideas they may have for improvement—in other words, a time to make them feel valued as members of the team.
Observe Employees at Work
Another method you can use to increase employee engagement is simple observation. Engaged employees are easily identifiable. They are consistently willing to help your customers and other employees, with no expectation of recognition. They go above and beyond their duties on a daily basis.
At times, dedicated employees may even seem argumentative while they attempt to make a case on behalf of a customer. Rather than interpreting this as insubordinate, recognize that the employee really cares about your customers and perhaps needs more tools to settle customer issues and upsets. Reward this behavior through encouragement or recognition. In so doing, you demonstrate and reinforce this type of strong, supportive behavior to the rest of your staff.
Don't allow negativity or apathy to infiltrate your dealership. These traits spread and will have a direct influence on both the customer's experience and the attitudes and morale of your staff. A company culture that fosters a positive culture and strives for engaged employees is the first step towards building a positive customer experience. In which case, everybody wins.