“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes,” said French writer Marcel Proust.
This could not be more apropos for dealership sales people and managers as they seek to understand and improve customer experiences.
Looking at a business through the eyes of a customer can be extraordinarily revealing.
Through years of working with customers and sales professionals, and through personal experience, APB has identified the following checklist of what every customer seeks from a business. How does yours measure up?
Customers are looking for the following:
A place to do business where they are comfortable and confident they will be treated fairly and professionally. While price is always a concern, when the customers are treated right and the ambiance is exceptional, price usually becomes secondary.
Professionalism includes not only respectful interactions but the appearance of both the facility and staff. If you are asking a customer to buy a $40,000 car, look the part. Unshined shoes won't do.
A trained and educated staff.
Information on the products they are interested in — not the newest or “hottest” models the sales people are pushing.
A salesperson who listens.
A friendly atmosphere including positive employees interested in helping. And ambiance makes people feel comfortable. Blaring music, tinny PA announcements and displeasing odors don't.
A warm greeting and sincere interest in helping find the right product, one that fits their wants, needs and desires.
A clean environment, from reception areas and offices to the sales floor, and especially the rest rooms.
Value beyond the ordinary parameters of service — this is how customer loyalty is established. Follow up. Stay in touch. Ask how you did?
Integrity from people and business practices they can trust.
Appreciation. A simple “thank you” goes a long way.
Customer service that focuses on resolution. Customers want employees who are empowered to resolve an issue without needing to escalate it, even if it means taking a little more time.
Personalization. This means not simply knowing a customer's name, but taking time to best serve every individual customer.
Let's look at two diverse examples of businesses that understand and focus on what their customers want.
The first is The Creamery Fountain in Palo Alto, Ca. This diner-style eatery is intent on making every customer feel like a guest would in their home.
Employees enjoy their work and bring a positive attitude to customers. Despite being incredibly busy, with patrons waiting to be seated, servers aim to please.
They take time to chat with regulars; to offer menus suggestions to regulars and newcomers, to accept special requests without hesitation and to deliver precisely what was ordered. No wonder patrons don't mind waiting.
The next is Southwest Airlines, a carrier known for creating unique customer experiences, for having loyal customers and earning high ranks in customer service.
The airline's mission is to give the highest quality of customer service with “warmth, friendliness, individual pride and company spirit.”
Not surprisingly, Southwest has ranked No.1 in airline customer satisfaction for the last 17 years. Right after a flight, customers receive emails seeking feedback and suggestions. One of the things that makes this airline great is that they act on the feedback. Otherwise, it is useless.
Like the Creamery, treat customers like guests in your home. Like Southwest, always look for ways to improve. Being the best is an ongoing commitment, not a one-time goal.
Richard F. Libin is the author of the book, “Who Stopped the Sale?” (www.whostoppedthesale.com) and president of Automotive Profit Builders Inc., a firm with 42 years experience of maximizing customer satisfaction and dealership gross profits. He is at [email protected] or 508-626-9200 or www.apb.cc.
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