I was sitting in a meeting when my cell phone rang. I did not recognize the number so I let it go to voicemail. On my drive home I listened to the message. “This message is for Mr. and Mrs. Pasch. This is Amica Insurance…” I perked up and wondered, “what is wrong, did my coverage change?” But to my surprise the message continued: “We at Amica would just like to thank you for your business. We appreciate that you have chosen us and just wanted to reach out and thank you.”
That made me smile. In a business where I teach customer service and how to get you customers to be brand advocates, this stood out and I had to write about it. Is your dealership going to that level? Is your dealership letting your customers know you appreciate them without trying to sell them something?
I think the most important thing an owner or employee can remember is what it is like for themselves as consumers. How would they feel if they got great service or if they got a thank you call? And then if someone was right there to ask if they would give him or her some feedback on how they could improve. I think many would do it.
So why is there still such a hesitation with dealers to embrace reviews? I have spoken to many over this past summer on PCG’s PITStop events and many say it is ownership. Those owners don’t believe that reviews are important and sell cars.
In some ways I can understand their hesitation right now, because they are still selling cars. What they are not looking at are the changes in shopping patterns. Both Auto Trader and Dealer.com have released excellent studies documenting that behavior of automotive consumers, and yet, dealers ignore the data.
Many of us are so tied to grinding it out, day to day, that we don’t have time to look at trends. Many of us are afraid to risk change, because it is such a competitive market; what if I am wrong and we make a mistake? Again I can understand these concerns, but what dealers are not doing is looking at how they shop or their families shop right now for products.
I would challenge a dealer to ask their family members if they go to a store to buy a product without going online or if they first to look at the product, reviews of the product, where to buy it, and even reviews of the seller on the internet first. I believe that they will see that people use the web to make their decisions easier.
So if we would do that for a movie, or a restaurant, why wouldn’t we do that for the second most important purchase that most people make?
Many articles have been written (some by myself in this magazine) detailing simple ways to accomplish this, but yet the struggle internally continues. Once a dealer embraces the reality that how much they go out of their way to treat customers will end up online and then in front of potential customers the better they will be long term in this new economy.
So think of all of the ways you can differentiate your dealership from competitors.
· Walk people out to their cars instead of just opening the door.
· Put a mint on their dashboard.
· Look them in the eye and really say thank you.
· Call them a day after their service to make sure all is well.
· Send a handwritten note to all who purchase a car.
· Send a thank you box of candy to someone who referred a new customer.
The list could be endless. Remember that being a bit different stands out and drives your customers to brag about you.
For me-Thank you Amica. You have my business and a big plug online.
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