The business world – and the automotive industry – has started to see just how important customer experience is to loyalty and retention. New and improved technologies are regularly released that help streamline the buying process and further enhance the customer experience.
However, a customer can have an incredible experience in the beginning – perhaps it starts online then transitions to the store – the customer starts incredibly happy with the service, deal and everything else, but then one piece of that experience goes bad and it sabotages their whole perception.
Take, for example, this story relayed by Forbes from a writer who wrote about how she had a great experience buying – until she met with the finance manager. According to the writer, even after politely declining F&I products, the manager continued to be pushy and aggressive to the point where she almost wanted to leave and never come back.
The article points out that, according to Forrester’s CX Index, automotive customers who have had a positive emotional experience are seven times more likely to recommend the dealership. In fact, 91 percent who had a positive experience are likely to recommend the dealership, whereas only 13 percent of those who had negative experiences would. This impact extends into service as well with 85 percent of those having positive experiences recommending the dealership for service.
The author’s point is that for many consumers how a transaction ends dictates the entire purchase experience. Everything can go smoothly throughout most of the process, but ending on a negative note can cause the customer to perceive the entire experience as negative.
I’m pretty sure that many sales managers and salespeople have had, at one point or another in their careers, a customer blow out of finance and watched that “sale” drive away.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not in any way blaming finance managers for negative experiences. The negative experience can happen anywhere in the buying process — not just in the finance office. The point is that any mishap or friction along the way can define the experience for the customer. Ensure that all of the processes involved in selling a customer a vehicle focus on what experience the customer will have. By so doing, you can increase customer satisfaction simply by ensuring that customers leave your store completely satisfied with all aspects of the process – not just some of them.
We’ve all heard the saying that the happiest customers are typically the ones that the dealership made money on – and these are also the ones most likely to send their family and friends to buy from the dealership. If all it takes to create brand advocates, increase gross and referrals, is to ensure a positive customer experience, every dealership should be scrambling to ensure that the experience they offer is a great one! Focusing solely on moving metal can lead to volume, but may hurt loyalty and retention. Focus on the customer and everything else will take care of itself.
Author: Michael Gorun
Michael Gorun is founder of Performance Loyalty Group, a technology-based owner retention and loyalty company. He has more than 25 years in operational service management positions for Ford, Nissan and General Motors. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.