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Time to Embrace Change Now
Stay ahead of those that are slow to shift the culture!

“Every time we touch a customer, we ought to think about how our decisions impact them. At the end of the day, customers want three things: speed, transparency, and control in the process.” Paul Walser, Incoming NADA Chairman

by Chip King

If modern times have taught us anything, it’s that we need to adapt to meet the needs of buyers. Customers have so many tools at their disposal for researching and executing their purchase that they are consistently stepping back from the face-to-face buy. For dealers, much of the customer experience is linked with the showroom. So how can they change their approach to meet the needs of the modern buyer?

We are increasingly aware that we need to change the customer experience if we listen to what they are demanding. Vroom and Carvana are taking deals from franchise and independent dealers by providing these three things: speed, transparency, and control of the buying process. To further expand their market share, these salesperson-free purchasing services are marketing hard that the dealer body is the enemy.

How can dealers offer control to rival the salesperson-free approach?

A Success Story in Speed, Transparency, and Control: How Comcast Transformed Their Customers’ Experience

Comcast is a great example of a company that successfully made the change to the big three of speed, transparency, and control. Once fodder for humor on the subject of customer service, Comcast has made dramatic changes to help bolster the company’s reputation. In my talks at past automotive shows, I used to ask the audience to raise their hand if they were a current or former Comcast customer. For those with their hands raised, I would ask what their customer experience was like, then I would connect that experience to their dealership’s customer journey.

  • Would your customers report long wait times?
  • Do they have any control in the buying process?
  • Can they quickly and efficiently execute a fully informed purchase?

Comcast was commonly known to provide a horrible customer experience and they had no offering that stood out over their competition. These combined factors led to a situation where Comcast was continually losing market share month over month.

Five years ago, Comcast made amazing changes to their product and their service. In the years leading up to their revitalization, they offered a phone experience of 30+ painful minutes, a three-hour service window that was days out and frequently unsuccessful, and no online or mobile control. Since they have implemented changes to the customer journey, their stock has risen 85%, and is growing in customer base and profitability in an industry that is shrinking dramatically due to new access like streaming.

Comcast now offers a dramatically different product, putting the customer in control both with the product application and the customer service experience. Customers can now use simple voice commands to control their viewing experience, access a mobile application that allows them to repair their own issues more than half the time in a matter of minutes, and when needed, engage in a phone call experience that is strikingly different than its competitors. Well-trained and friendly staff answers calls in less than a minute, service appointments are provided the same or next day, and representatives dependably arrive on schedule. To help mark their positive changes and correct the damage done with poor processes, Comcast rebranded their company as Xfinity and forged a new path for their company.

Comcast was able to successfully execute this change by working from the inside out. Rather than look to customers to jumpstart the change, they focused on providing a better employee experience because they understood that there will never be a great customer experience without a great employee experience.

Revitalize the Customer Experience in Your Dealership by Giving Consumers What They Are Asking For

For most customers, buying a car is the top or second-most expensive purchase they will make in their lifetime. One of the critical differences in an online-only purchase experience that customers miss is the personal exchange. Buyers want to express the details of their needs and wants and have questions answered that enable an informed purchasing decision. Real customer counselors need to be on hand to help guide decisions and be available when things go wrong. This involves the ability to talk to real people when they call your dealership.

  • The telephone is the critical tool that allows dealers to provide the speed needed to meet customer demands.
  • The telephone, when managed well, can enable transparency and supply dedicated counsel on all aspects of this major purchase.
  • The telephone allows for enhanced control of the purchase, helping drive pre-purchase decision making and execution and offering post-purchase management of problem solving and maintenance.

Now is the time to differentiate your business from the pack. Mr. Walser continues his council with this:

If we want to improve; if we, as an industry, are serious about becoming stronger, and if we want to have a sustainable shield against the disruptions of the world, we need to start looking at things differently. Sometimes you just need a clean sheet of paper to evaluate how we would do things without the usual playbook, as if we were starting over.”

The Challenge for Product Specialists and Sales Teams

Have you ever considered how your adherence to processes is impacting your advertising spend? It is said that 87% of all sales training is gone in just 12 weeks, bringing your team back to their original processes. Daily delivery of key performance metrics on all customer-touching fronts allows your team and its leadership to stay on point, utilizing best practices to enhance the customer experience and provide that transparency and speed. Measuring the caller’s journey in your business every hour of every day allows you to provide continuously high performance without periodic diminution. This translates to more sales, more satisfied customers, and market share growth. Additionally, automated entry of all inbound and outbound calls into your CRM allows for more data points and perfect automated follow up, all without requiring your sales team to manually enter data and risk a missed or ineffective follow-up opportunity. 

A thought to ponder…the real challenge may be that the dealers who are most at risk are likely to be the dealers that, to date, have been profitable doing things as they always have. The coming change to the customer journey is likely to hit hard and fast. Prepare yourself for the next wave of purchasing trends and you will be positioned to compete with market disrupters.

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