Nothing has changed as much in our automotive industry in the past 20 years as the technical advances in vehicles. Millennials love the tech stuff. Older folks like a lot of it…especially the braking and blind spot warnings. Everyone needs a little help understanding everything packed into the super computing power of today’s vehicles. That’s where your tech-spertise comes in. How you handle the training, demonstration and customer support for the often-baffling array of new tech features.
About 20 years ago Ford and GM pushed dealers into holding ‘technical’ seminars for new vehicle owners to enhance CSI scores. Feature training held at the dealership in small classes to acquaint buyers with information to operate and maintain their vehicles. It worked for the older retired luxury buyers who had time on their hands, but the middle-aged and younger buyers didn’t have the time to devote to these often ‘after-hour’ classes.
Time constraints of the already lengthy buying process preclude ‘demo’ time and a lot of buyers are short on time resources for delivery training. In most cases, the dealership TO’s the actual delivery demo to a delivery team who might not have developed the same rapport and trust of the salesperson who handled the sale. Often these ‘demos’ are cut short when the customer calls time before a full explanation of features can be explained. And often, the substantial amount of information that needs to be conveyed is just not absorbed due to ‘buyer overload’ in the allotted time.
Enter your ‘tech-spertise.’ Several dealerships I spoke with now have an array of tech-friendly customer support ready to handle customer inquiries in person, on the phone or over the internet. Thomas, a salesperson at a Northwest GM dealership refers to himself as a ‘master’ tech-spert. Receptionists, service advisors and even other salespeople refer incoming questions to Thomas and two other salespeople who take great pride in guiding customers to quick resolve for operational issues. But Thomas does something extra special for the customer. After he walks a customer through the use of a feature, even as simple as setting the time on a clock, Thomas does a quick video of the process on his phone and emails it to the customer for future reference.
What do you think of a salesperson who gives out his cell phone inviting customer to call him at any time they need help with the operation of a feature on their vehicle? Customers think quite highly of the service…Thomas leads in customer referrals at the dealership. He has now built a bank of 84 ‘quick explain’ videos on the operation of climate control, audio, advanced speed control and navigation systems that are ready to be emailed or texted to customers. All I can say is… Wow! Now that is service.
Once a week, the dealership chain has a segment in their on-going sales training process that focuses on questions most asked regarding technical/operational features.
Research study after study shows one of the most powerful influencing factors in brand differentiation is the human touch. Namely, the trust built from a customer-centered relationship focused on what the customer really needs: a dynamic relationship that goes
beyond point of sale. Information, knowledge, transparency and support that continuously confirms the value proposition of doing business with YOU.
A recent article in Auto Remarketing highlights the J.D. Power study showing dealer interactions with car buyers drives the highest sales satisfaction. This includes the knowledgeability of the salesperson to demonstrate apps on smartphones that make car shopping and understanding features easier. This study of almost 30,000 shoppers put the interaction with dealership personnel at the very top of the satisfaction influence factors. Yes, as I said in last month’s article: Your people ARE your brand!
If you’d like a copy of the Auto Remarketing article with more details on the J.D. Power study, shoot me an email and I’ll forward you a copy.
Here’s the good news. Your younger team members were born with a lot of this technical savvy in their DNA. Your 30 somethings have been digitizing since they were four years old. Now they get a chance to show their stuff.
Think about the support relationships you have with other technically complex products. What companies have won your brand loyalty with after-purchase support? One of the reasons I swear by my iPhone is the incredible response I get from Apple customer support. I have Sonos sound systems in both of my homes and I have never had a better experience with getting answers on issues 24/7 than I have with the Sonos tech-sperts who can actually diagnose my entire systems from a single click I make on my system that sends them the complete data so they can see what’s going on and diagnose in real-time.
With continual advancements in auto-parking, auto-piloting, a vast array of audio sources, on-board internet, etc., your satisfaction scores will be directly related to your ability to give customers the support they need, when they need it, in a manner they prefer. You can either answer the phone and direct a question to the service department, or to the instruction manual in the car (which is often on a DVD or other digital source), or you can turn it over to one of your ‘tech-sperts’ who will get your customer the help they need right now.
It may be one of the most powerful branding tools you’ll ever employ. And what better reason for your team to do follow-up emails, texts, and calls to a customer…letting them know if they have any question on the operation of any system, you’re just a tap or a click away!
Author: Jim Boldebook
JIM BOLDEBOOK is Founder of CBC Automotive Marketing, an advertising/marketing agency working with some of America’s most successful dealerships. He has been in the broadcasting, advertising and marketing fields for almost 50 years. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org