A Director of Customer Engagement can have a positive impact on your dealership’s bottom line
The relationship between ROI and your customer’s satisfaction can be difficult to quantify. CSI reports and reviews tell part of the story, but to know and understand the full journey of a customer through the sales and service process is more involved. Being confident in your customer satisfaction numbers will help you make any improvements necessary to increase the bottom line.
A Director of Customer Engagement & Experience is a key position responsible for improving customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention by collecting and analyzing data and creating action items to measure again for success. This person must assess all departments within your dealership and understand how to make customer service as seamless as possible. This is especially true for stores with multiple brands who receive reviews on multiple platforms.
More than CSI?
Your CSI scores may have never been higher, and if sales are up, you can be somewhat confident that the sales process is going well.. But let’s be honest. CSI scores are not all created equal. Some sales or service drive visits may have been completed with, “If you’re not going to give us 5’s on all answers, give us a call first.” That can feel coercive and unfair to women customers, as if their true opinion doesn’t matter. In today’s complex marketing and sales environment, it is important to understand the nuances of your sales, and more importantly, the lost sales and lost service drive clients. To do a proper analysis requires collecting as much data as possible.
A study by MaritzCX, conducted a study that revealed a relationship of ROI to customer satisfaction. The study found that a dealership can create over $64,000 each year in sales profits by increasing customer satisfaction by one level over the lifetime of their vehicle. Analyzing customer interactions at a macro-level to spot trends, and following with micro-level analysis of specific issues, can mean the difference between new sales and lost sales as well as satisfied and dissatisfied customers.
Can’t someone already in the dealership do the analysis?
In order to obtain a cohesive, honest view of your processes, it is much better to hire one person to lead the effort. Done right, this is a full-time position that will pay for itself many times over.
What if the dealership already has a BDC or Internet Department?
The Director of Customer Engagement establishes a close customer relationship with BDC and Internet teams, helping to fine-tune scripts and follow- up calls. Having the DCE perform analysis frees your BDC to spend time in direct contact with customers.
What are the responsibilities of a DCE?
The DCE begins with collecting as many data points as possible, including Google, DealerRater, Women-Drivers, Edmunds and more. It is a process that involves competitive analysis, reviews of social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and customer reviews on auto and dealership web sites and customer surveys. It also involves gaining perspective from your employees as to what is happening as they interact with customers. While the DCE wouldn’t interact with customers on a regular basis, there may be specific times when special surveys are created to tap into customers’ viewpoints.
Analysis is performed on the data points to understand what is working and what needs fine re-tuned. This analysis helps identify gaps in the sales, service and marketing processes.
The responsibilities of the DCE include:
- Identification of customer satisfaction drivers
- Assessment of sales performance gaps relative to competitors
- Creation of customer satisfaction surveys and interviews
- Performance of on-site observations
- Extensive reviews of social media and Internet reviews
- Creation of action plans to improve performance
- Identification of success evaluation metrics
Here are three examples where data collection and analysis can help you fine-tune your sales processes:
- Understanding demographics: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from February, 2015, almost 4 in 10 women out earn their husbands.
- An Auto Trader study reports that 53% of millennial car buyers are women. Are you collecting enough information to understand your demographics in detail? How would an understanding of these demographics help you target these market segments at an optimal level?
- Women’s buying habits: Women-Drivers.com reports that women visit 30% more dealerships than men before buying a vehicle and 48% of women purchase cars by themselves. Does your sales force accept that when woman comes to your dealership, for the most part she will not shop at a competitor?
- Millennials and technology: A survey by Edmunds in early 2015 found that 80% of millennials use digital strategies to shop for cars, compared to 46% of people over the age of 35. Do you vary your marketing strategies by age group?
Negative fallout from lack of data
Lack of data can negatively impact your dealership. If you don’t know the demographics or buying habits of your customers, you may pay a big price when they walk out the door. For example:
- If a customer doesn’t buy at your dealership, he or she will buy from your competitor. That has compounding loss for your dealership in terms of referrals.
- Chances are, a customer with a negative experience will tell people about it. A bad social media review can go viral in a hurry.
- When you lose a direct sale, or a sale lost due to negative reviews, you lose the service business of that potential buyer for at least a period of 3-6 years.
- By not using digital marketing targeted to the right age groups, you run the risk of your competitor winning just by having a better social media or Internet presence.
Upside sales effect of good analysis
The upside of proper analysis is much more intriguing than the effect from lack of data. Paying attention to details and correcting the course of your customer journey will result in fewer lost sales and optimizing others. Suppose these changes resulted in a 1- 2% increase in sales. If an average single store dealership sells $52 million in cars today, the increase in sales has more than paid for a Customer Experience Director. While realizing the gains takes time, the sales gains can continue to rise as long as course corrections continue. A simple starting goal would be to identify how many lost sales are occurring, and seek to eliminate 10% of them.
Keep them happy and coming back
Today’s customer journey involves more than past reactive approaches. Gone are the days when the dealership is a buyer’s first stop. When a shopper walks in your dealership’s door, she may already have read your dealership reviews and done her research about desired car features and pricing. It is up to your sales advisors to ask the right questions to assess where your customer is in the buying lifecycle. The Director of Customer Engagement can create a blueprint or flow chart for assessing the next steps. Collecting the right information can help identify disconnects in the journey that result in lost sales.
The Director of Customer Engagement may seem like a “soft” position – one that doesn’t have a direct link to sales or customers. In fact, the DCE is a key addition to your dealership that allows you to go beyond CSI and reviews and have an in-depth understanding of what works or doesn’t work at your dealership. In essence, the DCE provides the “glue” to create a seamless customer journey, that doesn’t just happen once, but is repeated many times over.
Author: Anne Fleming
Anne Fleming is president of Women-Drivers.com. The company has innovative solutions to assist dealers in showcasing their trust + commitment to women buyers and in turn expand their sales to this powerful buying segment.