We’ve all heard about the importance of customer experience and engagement. The truth is, the customer experience was just as important before the digital age came along. If you give your customers the ultimate experience, they will do business with you repeatedly and bring some referrals.
What does a great customer experience look like?
How, exactly, do you give a solid customer experience? How do you measure it? This is where the leadership team at the dealership should get together and layout “what does a solid customer experience look like both online and offline?” Make sure the experience the leaders believe in matches your people and culture. If it’s not a genuine and authentic experience the team believes in, it will not work. So, let’s dig into some examples of what a solid online experience looks like:
- Initial Response Time: The customer receives a prompt response within minutes of the inquiry. (Yes, in 2021, the average response time is still a struggle for most.)
- Keep the conversation going: If a customer started their process online with a live chat, our first communication must pick up where their live chat left off.
- Engaged Response Time: This is just as important as the initial response time. When a customer replies to a text or email, how quickly should your team respond? An engaged shopper who has taken the time to communicate with your team is expecting a prompt response. I encourage you to set goals for response times and have the proper processes in your CRM so that no customer falls through the cracks.
- Personalized Video: Take a look at the top free downloaded apps across the globe. Odds are, you will run into social media apps that are practically 100% video-based. The vast majority of consumers spend hours daily and weekly watching videos, so why not meet them where they are? Here are a few examples:
- Video walkaround sent to a customer of the vehicle in which they are interested.
- Personal greeting video introducing yourself and laying out next steps.
- Introduce your Finance Manager to address any questions about financing.
- Service Department video, talking about the inspection process and what to expect after their purchase.
- Pictures and GIFs: There is still a lot of power in pictures and gifs. The importance of using pics is that customers can quickly look at them anywhere to see if they are interested. GIFs can be great when they are used in the right way with your customers. Most importantly, keep them lighthearted and use them with the focus to get your customers engaged. Here are a few examples of how to enhance the experience with pictures:
- Send a pic of a unique interior feature that adds value to their driving habits (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Adaptive Cruise Control, etc.). Along with the pic, add a question to see if it’s important: “How do you feel about this feature? Could you see yourself using this?”
- Send a Thank You GIF after having a great conversation and showing appreciation for their time. It’s amazing how something this small creates a big experience in the customer’s eyes. Encourage creativity.
- Send an image of recent reviews from your customers. Pick reviews that address common pain points that most customers face buying a vehicle (i.e., time, financing, trade, etc.).
- Text and Email etiquette. This one often gets overlooked, but it’s important the team constantly evaluates emails and text communication for grammar and common errors they might have missed.
It’s essential to constantly evaluate which processes you will encourage to create the ultimate online experience. With the surge of video calls during the pandemic, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask customers if that’s a way they might want to communicate. Most importantly, ask your customers and your team what customers rave about once they’ve received a great experience. As you consistently innovate, it’s important to measure and have your team self-assess.
How do we measure the customer experience?
Measuring the customer experience is just as important as implementing a solid customer experience process. The fun part is to talk about what your team will do to “level up” the experience, but it’s the execution that will bring results.
First, we need to come up with a scoring system. My team created this for our clients to measure the progress of each individual and the entire sales team. I would encourage you to ask the leaders and the sales team how they would score certain items. This keeps them involved and encourages ownership of a solid customer experience. After you have labeled out what will be scored and how many points will be attributed to each item, it’s time to assess the experience.
We can score the experience two ways:
- Online Mystery Shop your own store. We believe this is a great starting point. With respect to your employee’s time, let them know it was not a real customer after 72-96 hours.
- Have your team self-assess real customers and score them against their execution of the customer experience items. This is powerful and helps hold them accountable without being a micromanager. During your next one-on-one, have them pull up customers from four to seven days ago, grab your scoring sheet, and let them go through some of the customer interactions to see if they scored well in giving the ultimate customer experience. This option allows your employees to modify their interactions and still provide the ultimate experience before it’s too late. Remember, praise employees for what they did well, and coach on the areas that need improvement.
Now you have a great framework to start consistently delivering your customers a great experience. Get started right now. Make sure your team evolves with the needs of your customers.