In this age of always-connected consumers seeking instant gratification 24 hours per day, consumer engagement and the customer experience are more important than ever in order to earn that elusive thing: Customer Loyalty. Consumers are more independent than ever before. They’re tired of chasing automated phone systems and having to tell their story multiple times as they get bounced from one rep to another. In fact, a study conducted by Aspect Software has a pretty fascinating conclusion:
Consumers don’t want your help. They want to be able to solve the problems themselves. And, if your company allows that, they will be loyal to you.
Don’t get me wrong. When they are dealing with your company directly – whether that means they’re at your dealership or in a retail store — they want a great experience. And whether that experience ends positively or negatively is increasingly dependent on one thing – customer service. In fact, 76 percent of ALL GENERATIONS view customer service as the true test of how a company values them as a customer. And, for many, a great customer service is one in which they can solve their own problems without your help. 73 percent said that when dealing with a customer service issue they should have the ability to solve most issues on their own.
How much do they want this? They want it so badly that about a third of those surveyed reported that they’d rather clean a toilet than talk to customer service.
But if you give them the ability to solve their own problem, 65 percent of all generations reported that they left feeling good about both themselves and, more importantly, the company.
Yet, in the automotive industry, we have typically shied away from allowing consumers to do things on their own, for fear of loss of control, decreased gross profits, or perhaps an unwillingness to invest in technology. That’s changing. As companies, including manufacturers, increasingly adopt an online buying process, consumers are getting more used to interacting with car dealerships in the same way that they do an Amazon – online. Consumers won’t want these online interactions, however, to be isolated to sales transactions. You better believe that those customers that actually end up buying their cars online from you will expect interactions with you to continue after the sale and, if you don’t provide that ability, they will find a business who will.
And why shouldn’t we give them the experience they want? All of the technology exists. As an industry, we need to bolster our customer loyalty by addressing the expectations and providing the experiences that our customers desire. Right now, our customers are from a wide variety of generations with differing life experiences and expectations. The day isn’t that far off when every customer we deal with will have no memory of a time without self-service, instant gratification and interaction through technology.
So, let customers interact via text, chat or email. If they want to buy cars online, make sure you have an option for that. Ensure that they can schedule a true service appointment – not just a form that gets e-mailed requesting an appointment that never gets confirmed and that nobody knows about when the customer arrives.
We can’t sit back, stay 5 years behind the rest of the retail world and expect to become a more popular shopping destination. Adopt technology that allows your dealership to operate more efficiently and delivers the digital experience that consumers desire and your business will be in good shape for years to come.