Earning customer loyalty in today’s society is especially tricky. As almost every retailer now has a loyalty program, it’s difficult to stand out and make your customer truly feel special and appreciated. Earning loyalty isn’t simply about giving something away. It’s about creating and nurturing a relationship that builds a brand advocate who will continue to patronize your business and also help with your acquisition efforts through recommendations and word-of-mouth. For the customer, the true test of how much a business values their patronage – and typically the moment when most businesses fail – is when a problem arises and they need assistance.
Nowadays, most consumers are used to getting trapped in an automated phone system’s multiple layers, offering every option except the one they want – a REAL LIVE person. Most customers don’t expect businesses today to greet them by name, or have instant knowledge of their past transactions. They simply want to know that the business is there for them and that it will help them. Unfortunately, frequently customers instead feel frustrated. They get bounced from rep to rep, or department to department, without that rep having the power to help them. And, even more frustrating, each step of the way they have to explain their problem again to the new person.
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to show your customers that your business truly cares is to treat each one as a VIP. There are countless stories of customers defecting to the competition simply because someone didn’t pick up their extension, and they went straight to voicemail. Train your staff to take ownership of each call that comes into your dealership. If the customer has questions, they should check that the person the customer needs to reach is available. And that they are the correct person to answer the question before transferring the call. Don’t shoot the customer off into phone limbo. Train your staff to brief any employee they transfer the call to about the customer’s issue. Then the customer no longer has to constantly repeat themselves. It’s very easy in a busy showroom to transfer calls around, page salespeople, then place customers on hold. But that’s exactly what will send those customers elsewhere.
Stores with BDCs are in an incredible position to create a concierge-like VIP service for customers. To create a relationship with a customer, you have to become a resource for them. If your customer’s vehicle is broken down, you could simply tell them to call AAA and have the car towed in, and/or give them the number for the manufacturer’s roadside assistance program. Another option is to offer to place that call for the customer — stay with them until the service answers, offering any information (like the dealership’s address) that the operator may need. Which do you think the customer will be more impressed with? Which do you think would result in that customer’s vehicle at your shop, versus your competitor? I realize that not all of this is realistic at each dealership, it’s the general idea of customer care that I am trying to relay.
Instead of answering the phone with a question of “This is Mike, How can I help you?” try a simple change to “This is Mike, I can help you.” Take ownership of that customer until their need has been fulfilled. You’d be surprised just how appreciative and impressed your customers will be. That is how you differentiate yourself and earn a customer’s loyalty.