In part 1 of this blog mini-series, we looked at the key factors that impact the car dealership customer experience, and in turn, customer retention.
With more people holding onto their cars for longer, we talked about the crucial role customer experience now plays in driving brand loyalty.
A customer experience strategy action plan
If you’re tasked with managing and improving the dealership customer experience, we’ve put together a six-point action plan to help you strategise your next move.
Let’s dive straight in…
1. Acknowledge where it can go wrong
A bad customer experience can ruin any business. We all know that. But are you clear on the touchpoints in your business where the customer experience might be falling down? For example, you might want to think about these areas where frustrations commonly occur:
- Having a website that’s hard to navigate
- Poor experiences with customer support teams
- Compromising customer security and data
- Being kept on hold for too long
- Failing to act on customer feedback
The point here is that it’s crucial to first map out every interaction your customers have with you. Once you know where those touchpoints occur, you can ensure they are carefully monitored and that action is taken if things go awry.
2. Have a clear vision for your brand customer experience
Now you know where all the touchpoints occur, you need to develop a clear vision for your customer experience strategy that you can communicate throughout your business. The easiest way to do this is to create a set of guiding statements, which will become the values intrinsic to every member of your team.
For example, you might base your customer experience strategy around core ‘family’ values, which can be embedded into your business culture. Once these values are in place, they should be the driving force behind the work ethic of everyone – from top to bottom.
You’ll need every member of your team to know these principles by heart and they should become central to any new employee training and development programmes.
3. Know everything about your customer base
How well do you know your customers? I mean, really know them. In order to create a stand-out customer experience, you need to fully get into the heads of each type of customer you deal with.
The aim? To understand in as much detail as possible exactly what grinds their gears and fills them with joy. This means truly empathising with the different situations they face throughout the customer journey.
Mapping your customer journey in its entirety is the first step. Aside from helping you visualise all the touchpoints along the way, it also allows you to:
- Increase engagement with customers throughout the buying journey
- Remove ineffective customer touchpoints and save marketing budget
- Better target marketing campaigns to particular segments of your audience
- Help employees meet objectives faster with improved customer experience
- Take your marketing from a company-focused approach to a customer-focused approach
Once you’ve mapped out every customer touchpoint, you can start to visualise the whole customer journey in more detail. This should cover all calls-to-action across your marketing assets – such as website enquiry forms, phone calls, emails and live chat enquiries.
To gain extra insight from phone calls, a tool like Mediahawk’s speech analytics can help you listen to customer concerns first-hand and get right to the heart of the issues that matter most to them.
4. Develop an emotional connection with customers
You’ve heard the phrase “people buy from people”. And it’s true. There’s no better way to guarantee customer loyalty and retention when you build long-lasting professional relationships. Going that extra mile to deliver a personalised and thoughtful service makes a huge difference to the customer experience.
For example, imagine a customer has booked an appointment for their car to be serviced at your dealership. Simply greeting the customer in the car park as they arrive, knowing their name without them having to tell you, and directing them straight to a representative who will deal with their booking there and then gives a lasting positive impression. The customer feels welcome and important, like royalty being greeted at an event!
Little touches like this may seem insignificant, but they have a hugely positive impact on the overall customer experience. It makes the customer feel good. And it’s that emotional connection that will bring them back to you time and again.
5. Empower your team to deliver excellence
Once you have a clear customer experience strategy in place, it’s time to educate and train your team.
A key part of this is to regularly assess the quality of team interactions with customers – for example, on the phone or in-person at the dealership.
When it comes to phone calls, speech analytics helps you do this in real-world scenarios. Rather than putting your team through nerve-wracking assessments, you can monitor their real-life conversations with customers to understand how their conduct helps or hinders the overall customer experience.
From there, you can build a quality framework with action points to help your team deliver the best possible service at every stage of the customer journey.
6. Monitor and act on customer feedback
This one is critical. You’ll never know whether you’re delivering a superior customer experience unless you ask for and closely monitor customer feedback.
Ideally, capturing feedback in real-time is key here. Live chat tools on websites now make it incredibly easy to gather feedback following a customer interaction, for example. Even simply sending an email requesting customer feedback after a phone call will help.
Don’t forget the reviews customers leave on Google Business Profile, too. Not only do they serve as a proof-of-credibility for prospective customers, they also provide a rich resource of feedback that you can mine for greater insight.
The important thing is to gather feedback at multiple stages in the buying journey. You need to know that customer satisfaction is high at every step. And if it isn’t, you’ll be much better placed to act on customer feedback and keep the experience a positive one.
A word on digital transformation
Everywhere you look, services are being digitised. And the same can be said for the dealership experience.
This might mean a simple online booking system for vehicle servicing; video walkthroughs embedded in emails showing the customer the work that’s been done; right through to a fully online and digitised car buying process, Tesla-style.
The point here is that as the buying journey becomes increasingly more digital in its makeup, so the customer experience shifts. It means even greater attention must be paid by dealerships to providing customers with a consistently great experience whenever and wherever they need it.
Ultimately, your customer experience strategy should look to automate the mundane parts of the customer journey – for example, booking processes – while retaining a healthy amount of human interaction where it’s still needed.
With this approach, you’ll make the dealership experience as efficient as possible for your customers, while continuing to build retention and loyalty through ever-stronger relationships.
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