Human beings do have a tendency to overcomplicate things. In our industry, there are so many things that we need to deal with on a daily basis – customers, co-workers, employees, bosses, technology – at times it gets overwhelming. I believe that most dealers understand the importance of customer loyalty and retention. There are plenty of ways to entice customers and gain their loyalty. However, no matter how good the effort, every one of us will see customers leave at some point. Sometimes it’s your fault, sometimes it has nothing to do with you. Regardless of which, sustaining and nurturing customer loyalty can, at times, seem a daunting task.
I came across this quote from an unknown author today and, as I reflected on it, it occurred to me that this was the perfect – and simple – roadmap to customer loyalty.
Respect is earned.
Honesty is appreciated.
Trust is gained.
Loyalty is returned.
Everyone wants to be respected. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a customer, the business owner or a porter. Respect in a business organization is the foundation for everything – company culture, employee loyalty, and customer experience – to name just a few. If managers don’t respect their subordinates, a hostile environment is created where nobody wants to work. This in turn stifles productivity and negates motivation. Disrespect will make that $20 spiff worthless. In fact, that disrespect could easily result in employees performing poorly on purpose so as to cause the manager to fail.
Sadly, the auto industry is perceived as one of the least trusted of all businesses. The stereotype of the used car salesperson has transcended time and become one that dealers have found difficult to overcome. A policy of treating both employees and customers with respect and honesty can help create stronger bonds and also improve customer perception. A customer may expect a salesperson to be deceitful, but can be won over through honesty. Don’t promise things you’re unable to deliver. Customers desire transparency and in today’s world of online research, there are many resources for the customer to easily find the information they desire. So, be up front in the transaction. Customers may not like the answers you give them. But, if they’re honest answers, they will respect you for it.
If your employees or customers don’t trust you, you will never earn their loyalty. Chances are that you’ll have to prove that you can be trusted and believe me when I say that customers will challenge that trust and look for third-party validation – whether that’s through a price confidence site, a CarFax report or simply an online payment calculator. If everything checks out, and the customer knows that you’ve been honest with them, you will begin to earn their trust and build loyalty.