Recently I was shown a Facebook conversation thread where a young woman was complaining to her male friend that her car was giving her problems. The friend confidently advised her that it was definitely her flux capacitor and that she should take the car to her dealer and tell them she needed more gigawatts for her flux capacitor. Okay, so he wasn’t the kind of friend she needed, and she subsequently expressed her great embarrassment and irritation after she unwittingly followed his advice.
I imagined the situation at the service desk when she demonstrated her ignorance by requesting the fictional power source from the Back to the Future movies. Hopefully the service manager swallowed the urge to chuckle, or worse. In a situation like that, it is best to side with the customer and save the laughter for later. The right thing to do would be to tell her that her friend has pulled her leg, but you’ll gladly diagnose the real problem and fix it.
Now, most women know enough about cars (and those movies) to know that gigawatts and flux capacitors are not real components, although the increase in hybrid and electric cars could influence that. And a lot of men can be equally clueless about what makes cars operate. The days of working on your own car in your own garage are fading for all but the dedicated enthusiast. With the growing complexity of vehicle technology, instances where the customer knows little or nothing about their car’s technology will surely increase.
The dealer that responds to this change most appropriately has the opportunity to reap rewards in the form of repeat business and referrals from loyal customers.
No one likes to be ignorant. Not men. Not women. If you become a source of information and knowledge then your customer will feel more confident and empowered, and will pay you back with their business.
I’d like to see dealers offer more information to customers about their cars, how they work and how to take care of them. This can take many forms. (Yes, they do get owner’s manuals with their cars, but I’m talking about basic automotive technology, not how to set the garage door opener.) It can be as simple as offering a list of resources they can look into on their own, like internet sites and links for technical references. It could also be simple brochures or pamphlets.
Alternatively, it could take the form of newsletter content or social media postings. I’d avoid using a question & answer format, unless participants can be anonymous, or unless you provide both the question and answer. The people most in need of information are often the ones least willing to demonstrate their ignorance.
If you have a newsletter or are considering one, this may be the best way to deliver simple educational content to your customers, and it is an excellent opportunity to remind customers about service recommendations. What you put in your informational bulletins need not be particularly complicated or detailed, but you can always include links to more detailed information.
The final option you could consider would be to hold technology education seminars for your customers. Make them part of another event meant to attract customers to your dealership. Do you hold special events that could use an additional reason to attend? Make the session about demonstrating technology but don’t miss the opportunity to talk about how superbly your brand serves the customer’s needs.
Education can be a great way to provide additional value to your customers, as well as another opportunity to open a conversation with the customer about their needs. Make them happy that they do business with you, and they will come back and send their friends, family and associates to you as well.