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Disruption is Change

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Disruption is about change. In the automotive industry we usually connect the word disruption to some up-and-coming vendor program, product, or new technology. When really disruption comes from how these things introduce new habits, adjust how you communicate, and/or change your approach. You may not need new products, services, or technology to create a disruption in your market, all you may need is to reflect and change. Technology is not the disruption; it is a confirmation of needs which are waiting to be filled. With technology having affected the way people consume and engage, becoming a force of positive disruption in your market is well within your grasp. Retail automotive has a never-before-seen opportunity to show with clarity how it has evolved to rise to the consumer challenge to “do better.” No longer is the showroom a place with fancy-suited strangers and cold metal, the most competitive dealerships are bringing the showroom, and their people, to their customers, creating more open and sustainable relationships. Social media has given us a spyglass into the lives of others, making people realize their own humanness is not so abnormal. Consumers are driven to engage with individuals and business they feel they know, trust, and relate to. Further reenforcing that people buy from people, and relationships matter. The key to disruption is not missing the point of disruption. Stop doing what you have always done. Consumers are clear about their needs, how to meet their needs and expectations, are we listening? They do not necessarily need more technology; they need more communication with clarity. Your customers expect their in-dealership experience and online experience to be cohesive. They want a process that is mindful of the buyer, a business that is community-aware and, believe it or not, a long-term relationship with you. Disruption is a mindset; it is when you genuinely care as much for the people you employ and the people you are selling to as you do your sales. Disruption mindset starts with leadership, it is creating the culture for employees that mirrors the experience you want for your customers. It is building long term relationships with your customers by fostering long term tenure with your employees. You’re thinking, all that’s great, how do I achieve disruption? Here are a few areas you can easily check yourself in and create positive disruptive change within your dealership: 1.      Does your employee culture reflect the experience you desire for your customers? 2.      Do your customer’s in-dealership experiences and online experiences feel cohesive and transition smoothly? Does it feel like a singular purchase experience? 3.      Do you have a social presence sharing outside of what you earn a profit from? Is it a place your customers return to after the sale? 4.      Is your dealership website a virtual showroom only for vehicles, or is it also a meet and greet for your staff? 5.      Are you actively listening to your customers' needs and expectations? “But tackling some of those would be like opening a can of worms.” Open that can of worms, friend. Without conquering these things, none of the disruption you achieve in your market will be sustainable.  
Need Management over Lead Management

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It seems like a simple concept.  Take care of people’s needs first and foremost.  Yet, it continuously falls short on the planning and execution when the transactional mindset and objectives take over. We spent decades instituting and enforcing a “customer satisfaction” survey process.  That was supposed to put the customer first right?  But that was a post-mortem grade on how a dealer rated versus other dealers, in most cases on a transactional process, not really aimed at customer’s true needs in the first place.  We have now evolved to the concept of “customer experience.”  But we still chase it as if it is something we can develop and invoke upon the customer.   When in reality it is the “customer’s experience.”  They own it.   They dictate how they will perceive it and value it.  We merely need to be able to be flexible and personalized in our approach to their needs. I would argue vigorously that the future of retail, the success of the dealer footprint going forward will depend much more on Need Management versus Lead Management.  By its very nature leads are cold, transactional, and aimed at getting people into a car within the current sales month.  Needs are obviously more personal, more relevant and contextual to the exact need for the interaction and engagement.  Needs may not be aimed at a traditional sale either, but perhaps a service, or a question for now, or a more personal approach to the right vehicle and right financial arrangement. This proposition may sound basic, but the entire retail industry is built on a sales leads funnel to get people in and through the process and then survey them and ask how we did.  Our focus must shift if we hope to have long-term sustainability in retail in an industry and a function that is fast transforming.   As EV’s and other digital services and subscription models enter the scene, as new car inventories will be in flux through 2022 and used cars become an option, we must personalize the experience to focus on customer mobility and transportation needs. Even in the traditional new car sales process, we often miss the need.  As more customers move to digital shopping and retailing (you all know the increasing numbers), they are required to figure out their own need before they hit a human or the store.  We ask them to figure it out through a wonky pricing and configuration tool where they must select option codes and packages they are not even sure they want or need.  Most of us in the industry struggle knowing the difference between a trim level, model level or an option package.  The customer often muscles their way through it and lands on a “build and price” vehicle.  That then becomes the lead!  But have we really identified and resolved the need? I believe the whole process needs to be tipped upside down to start the with the need.  What does the customer (The “UP”) need?  It may sometimes be information they want to support some decision making that is hard to find in a sales brochure online system.  It may be information about best mobility options.  Assuming for a moment it is a vehicle that they want to own and acquire, is a new or used vehicle the best fit?  What type of driving will they do?  What are their weekly commuting needs?  What is their budget target?  Are they better of buying, leasing or even subscribing where available? I am not naïve enough to believe that the very process of moving inventory, monthly sales targets, transactional commission-based sales people are supportive of the idea of taking the necessary time to understand the customer need and taking the appropriate actions to deliver on that expectation.  What is success in automotive retail and sales will have to change. I would argue it already has changed.  Good dealers were already transforming processes and success metrics to understand that the future retail sustainability will be based on lifetime value, products and services, experiences and customer affinity to the dealer brand and experience.  The past year and a half with a global pandemic that changed customer expectations and mobility needs, and also disrupted supply chains for the foreseeable future, have all created more value on build-to-order (personalized orders) and personalized engagement for customer fulfillment of needs (not just sales). The new business imperatives that will drive success in the auto retail industry include: Access over Assets  The importance of the ability to engage the customer where they are in their journey as opposed to simply having inventory available.  That “permission” and capability for access and engagement is move valuable (even on a balance sheet) than the physical assets. Personalization over Transaction How much of the customer’s true needs were met versus our simple goal of a unit sale.  Transaction may help the monthly sales quota, but personalization will contribute to the customer lifetime value and the business sustainability. Service is not an event, it is an experience Treating every service experience as an opportunity to engage the customer deeper in their needs fulfillment entirely as opposed to a maintain or repair the product only mindset Users over Owners Leverage any and every customer who may want to engage with us at the retail level whether that be for product information, used cars, mini-fleet access or subscription models, digital services, maintenance and updates, charging, or future services as the goal over simply supporting owners only with the basic vehicle services.  They may not even be a “customer” in the traditional sense, but every interaction is of potential value for both parties in building a long-term relationship. Retail is not a location, it is an action and a relationship This means more than mobile delivery or service pick-up and drop-off.  How do we use retail experiences, which should include every interaction through every channel, to build a relationship and understand the customer’s context and needs?  Retail, and all it entails, is an experience building opportunity. While I mention these as imperatives, there are objectives and measurables that should be assigned to these efforts.  There should be focus on the people, processes and technology all aligning to this mission as the North Star experience.   It’s always easy to raise issues, but what are the solutions?  There is no one path forward to achieve these objectives and each dealership will need different focus and transformation depending on its maturity towards this goal. Let me offer a few thoughts and enablers I would consider critical to pivoting to need over lead. Define your North Star customer experience.  Clearly and concisely.  Is it well understood and communicated through the organization? Is the North Star experience supported by the right processes and measurables? Personalization not Transaction focus.  Do we really know and understand the customer needs? Do we have the right data and information to understand and respond appropriately to the need?   Are we asking the right questions and capturing the information? Does our technology share actionable insight, or does it just enable transactional processing? I would not suggest that this initiative mandates and overhaul of your technology platform and entire business processes.  But could they all be sharpened and aimed at the right objective?  I would suggest they could be optimized for this long-term success strategy.  Let’s utilize customer management systems and data across the organization (regardless of department or function) to create additive customer journey and customer need insight at each interaction.   Let’s evolve our business processes to be “customer-centric” and not functional-based or organizationally standard. Overall, the future of retail success will be predicated on the ability to deliver personalized, valuable engagements on the terms of the customer.  Their needs being fulfilled is the future of retail, not transactional exchanges.  That includes the what, where and how.  Retail is not a physical location; it must be an experience.  Customer needs will be met by somebody, it is up to you to make sure that somebody is you.  
loyalty culture
Dealership Culture: Make Trust Your North Star

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Bolster your dealership’s culture with clarity, consistency and accountability to succeed in a multi-channel world According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Rory Blackwell, the ultimate one-man band, played 108 different musical instruments simultaneously on May 29, 1989 in Devon, England.  Fortunately, a car dealership is the opposite of a one-man-band. A dealership is full of skilled, well-trained and dedicated professionals, all ready to do their part to help the dealership succeed. That said, I believe the most essential instrument required for them to play in harmony is trust.  Yet building trust in a dealership is a lot easier said than done. It can apply (or not) across the board to ownership, managers, employees and customers.  Trust can be earned, of course, but it also can be easily or quickly lost.  Culture Matters I’ve been thinking a lot about trust after listening to a recent podcast hosted by Troy Scheer with Brian Kramer, the General Manager at Germain Toyota of Naples, in which the two discussed the important role played by culture in a dealership. A running theme throughout the podcast was the importance of a culture built on trust.  A dealership must first define its culture, however, and I believe the touchstone for any dealership culture should be the customer experience. The challenge is to bring sales, finance and service together as a team – whether online or in the store -- to seamlessly provide the desired excellent experience to each customer.  This united effort is complicated by the need to balance in-person and digital contacts with customers. An employee who is busy in the showroom meeting and greeting customers is unavailable, at the same time, to respond to digital leads. Yet both types of communication are essential and must be made. You can’t afford to ignore customers or make them wait too long. That’s why the best dealership cultures inspire everybody up and down the line to do whatever it takes to deliver a positive customer experience.  Getting there with a minimum of friction, however, requires management to take three steps: clarify what’s expected, be consistent in its application and hold everyone accountable.  Clarity Means No Surprises When buying a vehicle, I’m always mystified why the salesperson doesn’t walk me over to their service department and personally introduce me to someone in sales to initiate a more long-term relationship. Those of us in the business know that typically parts and service can generate 49 percent of a dealership’s profits.  My guess is that the salesperson is focused on the short-term and is already thinking of his or her next sale, instead of what’s best for the customer or dealership. This particular salesperson may not fully understand or appreciate or trust the store’s culture.  Automotive retail can be a pressure cooker, but clarity actually diffuses the pressure because everyone knows what’s expected.  Consistency Means Everyone Contributes Whether your customer-first motto is in your mission statement, your store, or on your website, you must consistently practice what you preach.  As an owner or manager, you should encourage your employees to take risks and try things without fear of repercussion.  If you tell customers that you want them to be customers for life, you need to prove that by standing behind that statement with products like Lifetime Powertrain Warranties. Many of the dealerships we work with offer lifetime maintenance and customer loyalty programs in the finance office and train their service technicians on how to create a first-rate experience to keep service customers coming back time after time.  Consistency means backing your mission statement up in every department across every experience.  Communication Means Accountability This is the attribute where the rubber hits the road, hard choices are made and, ultimately, trust is built. Make your people accountable for their actions, and allow them the privilege of learning from their mistakes. Nobody wants to be second-guessed or blindsided, of course, especially during the course of a busy day.  Likewise, you don’t want employees running to management to make a decision they could and should make. If they know you have their back, they’ll have yours.  Above all, keep it transparent. Nothing undermines a culture of trust more than a manager who allows a closed-door meeting to talk privately about somebody else. A Culture Where Customers Win Making trust the centerpiece of your dealership’s culture turns former roadblocks into speed lanes.  More importantly, it enables customers to believe in your brand, because they know your entire team is looking out for what’s best for them. Customers are listened to, calls are followed-up, questions are answered. And you can reward their trust by offering them extra benefits for doing business with you, such as lifetime powertrain warranties.  I’d like to finish up with one of my all-time favorite quotes from legendary coach Vince Lombardi, who says, “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all of the time.”  There’s no better way I can think of to describe building a lifetime value culture across your dealership that will last the test of time – do it right all of the time. 
How To Handle A Customer Dispute Like a Pro: Part 2

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In Part 1 , you will recall that we had the goals of discovering the truth, building trust, and de-escalating the customer's anger (a.k.a. extracting the venom). We learned how to set expectations, communicate during the first meeting, and how not to irritate the customer. Here's how to build on your initial success and capitalize on the customer trust you have earned.   The Second Meeting: Gather Final Information and Achieve Mutual Understanding If mistakes happened, acknowledge them. It builds trust and continues to make you human and trustworthy in the eyes of the customer. If the dealership made a mistake during the sales process, it's okay to say, "I'm sorry." Disarm by telling the truth. Continue to acknowledge the customer's emotions (i.e. angry, upset, anxious, etc.) Try to extract the remaining venom here. Let the customer vent as necessary. When you find that the customer is repeating the same thing over and over it's time to say, "Let's focus on how to make you happy." You do not want to have the customer repeat their bad feelings over and over as it begins to wear a groove that is hard to overcome. If you don't take care of the problem now, it is going to get worse, and it's going to cost more money and you are going to create a problem for someone else at the dealership. Be creative and ask lots of questions.  Ask multiple questions, "If I could do this (xx), would that make you happy?" During these conversations ask things like: If I could buy the unit back at $xxx (including a profit for you as the dealer) would that interest you? What if I provided you with a service credit for $xx? (This option will only cost you fifty cents for every dollar that you offer to the customer.) What if I could sell you a different unit and take yours as a trade-in? How would you feel if I were your personal concierge during your ownership experience so you could call me with any issues that you had and I would take care of them? Some solutions are non-monetary. Explore these options. Customers want to be pampered and feel important. How can you accomplish those things? Offer to put the solution in writing "to make you more comfortable so that you are assured of getting exactly what we are discussing." The Third Meeting: Buy-in Present at least two (2) potential solutions for the customer. When you present a singular solution, a customer feels like you are shoving an answer down their throat. If you proceed that way, then a lot of the trust building efforts you've earned will evaporate. Be creative and don't be afraid to try something different.   It's okay to offer options where the economies are different. For example, maybe you offer to make three (3) payments of $xx or a service and parts credit of $yy and those numbers have $500 difference between them. You may be surprised which option the customer chooses. In any event, offering options shows you care and that you are trying really hard to help the customer. Words can be perceived as "cheap," and here you are showing the customer that you care by not just serving up one option.  Wrapping Up With The Customer Put your agreement in writing. Consider having the customer sign a release of any further dealership obligations. Follow Up! Follow through! Follow Up! Execute on your promises. Make sure you personally see that things are done. There is no shame in asking for help or advice or a "TO." Sometimes, other personalities may help you re-close the customer on a solution. This is just like selling in many ways. Consider documentation changes to your customer facing paperwork to guide how this process may look (i.e. an alternative dispute resolution structure.) Be creative here, too. Arbitration is not the only way to handle this. I think arbitration is overrated and ineffective and does not solve problems. It prolongs problems but does not help you, in my opinion. That is a future topic that I will cover. In short, there are all kinds of creative structuring which may work for your dealership. So, you did it! Be proud of yourself and allow yourself to have a quiet moment of success. Success comes in many forms and a job well-done is the result of your good attitude. Well done. Please contact me if you have any further questions. I've handled well over 1000 customer complaints of all shapes and sizes in my 30+ years in the business. Check out these 3 videos with quick steps for resolving a dealership customer dispute, complaint, & problem.
How To Handle A Customer Dispute Like a Pro: Part 1

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"The only difference between an ordeal and an adventure is your attitude," states the recent, popular internet meme I encountered, and I agree. Customer disputes often begin when you hear from a third party. The customer may not complain because of their feelings: shame, embarrassment, or self-doubt, to name a few. You may instead hear it from a lawyer or regulator (i.e. a Motor Vehicle Dealer Board, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), State Attorney General, State Consumer Affairs Division, Better Business Bureau etc.) There are some customers who will find something wrong with the vehicle and use that as a wedge to try and leverage you into some bigger action. This type of customer will not usually come right out and tell you they want out of the unit, but rather will go "on campaign" and send you emails and letters and phone calls demanding you fix the problem. This campaign may start with an internet posting complaining about the vehicle and the dealership. Ultimately, the customer will get frustrated and finally ask you to buy back the unit. Customer problems often begin with internet complaints and how you address those early on may determine your ability to successfully conclude the problem. So, this is where opportunity begins. Treat the customer using the Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have done onto you." Always proceed as you would want to be treated in the same situation. Being nice and being kind is always appropriate.  Over my 30 years, I have crafted a three (3) step model to manage these situations. I will detail the first step here as well as what not to do. My next article will address steps 2 and 3. Schedule a meeting. Make it formal. Do not have these conversations on the telephone. The customer should have to "invest" in this mutually shared experience, which will require effort on the part of the customer. Invite the customer to come see you in the store.   The First Meeting Listen to the customers' story first. Take notes, writing down everything the customer tells you. (I do mean everything.) Sometimes this can take more than an hour. Invest the time. At the end, show the customer your pages and pages of notes. Then tell the buyer you are going to read them back and you want them to let you know if you missed anything. Then read the notes and paraphrase what you have been told. This should take as long as it takes. (I've had these meetings last all day.) The net result is the customer will feel heard, which is part of the "disarming process." These steps are meant to show you were listening and the customer was heard. Do not skip any of this or try to do it quickly. While you are taking notes, nod and say things like "I understand." Label the customer's feelings. If they have a terrible tale of woe, use phrases like: "That must have been frustrating." "That must have been hard." "That sounds really aggravating." "I wouldn't want to go through that either." Do not feel the need to create a solution during the first meeting. In fact, even though you can often solve the problem by snapping your fingers, if you choose this shortcut, the customer will often decline the solution as he is not yet emotionally invested in the process. It's frustrating, but it's true.  At the first meeting, set a time for the second meeting and let the customer know that you are going to do some homework in between meetings. Setting multiple meetings and being "gameday" shows you care and you want to help.   Set expectations before the end of the first meeting and let the customer know that you may not have any solutions by the end of the second meeting and you are going to work on their issues. Reassure the customer that he is valuable and important to you. Do not be defensive as it will turn out negatively and the customer will feel you are trying to defend the dealership. Be truthful. Half-truths will get you nowhere. When you add half-truths and caginess to this situation, you are going to get yourself and the dealership into trouble. Quickly correct any errors (or omissions) that another employee may have said, or a false perception that a customer has. If you set the customer straight and tell them the real deal, they (almost always) can deal with the circumstances. Be realistic. Assure the customer that you are going to work toward a satisfactory resolution. Be true to your word. Do not over-promise. Emphasize that you want the customer comfortable and happy. Follow-up properly and call back when you said you would. It builds trust.  How To Listen Be quiet and let them talk. Try to find common interests. Use the same bonding methods you use when selling. Be relaxed. Nod, as appropriate.  Body language–do not cross your arms or your legs. "Be open" with your body language. The customer is going to tell you how to run your business. Do not take the bait here. Be patient and stay calm as "everyone else is an expert."   Tell the customer that their problem is "Important." Repeat: "I want to help you," multiple times. Try practicing these items with team members. It may be hard to eliminate bad habits.  Here's How To Irritate A Customer–Guaranteed Not listening Failure to set expectations Bragging about your lifestyle, how much money you have, your personal experiences Be inefficient Be insensitive Break promises Pretend it's not your fault Ignore the customer's issues Use the words, "I'm sorry you feel that way." Check out these 3 videos with quick steps for resolving a dealership customer dispute, complaint, & problem . In Part 2, I will show you how to conclude the complaint.
Auto Retailers: Customer Experience Needs to Be Your Differentiator

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Tom Knighton said it best, Customer experience is the next competitive battleground Customer Experience - the term is everywhere in business and even in society now. As with many business practice movements, the term has been misused and misrepresented. Over the past few decades, business has used and practiced the art of Customer Satisfaction, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Customers for Life, Customer is King and even more mantras. They have all been attempts to put focus on the customer. But they often based those concepts on technology or a belief that there were tools that make this happen for a business. Customer Experience (CX) is not the same as Customer Satisfaction. Customer Experience is an emotional attachment and value that the customer owns. I would explain it using something we all understand. Ever have a meal and say "that was satisfying"? Simply asking this to yourself meets basic criteria but does not create a lasting memory. Now if you have ever gone out to eat, no matter how typical or fancy the restaurant and had a great table, fun company, excellent service, fantastic food, tasty beverages and overall enjoyed the event, that becomes an EXPERIENCE. You will likely continue to talk about it and treasure the experience, not just the food. What is CX Really? I would also push the concept further that Customer Experience is not the new business practice, technology, department or business function we simply build. In fact, Customer Experience is not something we as a business own at all - it is also personalized and individualistic. The customer owns it. The customer experience is what they think, feel, and believe they experience as a holistic interaction. We as a business can merely build and align the business processes, technology platforms, channels, training and metrics against a good customer experience. We must do it one customer and one experience at a time. We need to stop measuring and driving the industry on a transaction focused Customer Satisfaction score. We must begin to really understand, align and deliver against personalized customer expectations and needs to deliver a holistic experience. The Industry Issue In auto retailing, it is true that all the horror stories of the past and the bad image perception have scarred the current thinking about buying and servicing a car. Perception is reality. You will often hear people get excited about the prospect of the new car, followed by a sigh that they have to make a trip to "the dealer." In recent research, it has been conveyed that the Millennial generation would in fact rather go to the dentist than visit a dealer. According to several Consumer Reports articles, the main dissatisfiers with the retail process (despite vast improvements) continue to be: The sales representative made the experience a challenging and unhappy one The F&I process was too time-consuming, wasteful and confusing Getting the run around on the phone Not being able to match an offer or vehicle to a real deal All the haggling Lack of visibility, transparency and trust All the "back-and-forth" and time wasted Not concerned about the customer needs Now, compare that with experiences we have all had in other industries. The pandemic itself has highlighted and accelerated the ability of many businesses and industries to become more customer experience driven. Many are offering curbside pick-up and drop off, mobile delivery, omni-channel access, more virtual agents and self-help options and more personalization to suit the customer needs. I always like to share one simple CX example from an industry we can all relate to in our lives - pizza delivery. For a $5 pizza order from Domino's, or almost any pizza chain for that matter, you begin a customer experience journey. The full experience can include: Order through multiple channels Recognized by your name, an account ID, or your phone number as a previous or new customer Able to repeat a previous order with one swipe Given the ability to track your order through multiple devices Receive order updates Ability to change or add to your order up to departure of the delivery Notified when your driver is on your street or in your driveway Delivered within 30 minutes, as promised in the majority of cases  Given a discount or earn loyalty points for your order in many cases Asked (surveyed) after delivery about your experience. Not the pizza, the experience.  In some cities, the delivery is being tested with an autonomous delivery vehicle, or to a hot spot or mobile delivery spot of your choice All of this for a $5 pizza. At IBM we have a saying, "The last best experience you have, in any industry, becomes your standard going forward across all industries." So we all carry these experiences and increased expectations from recent events and business service levels into the auto retail environment. The stakes have now been raised even further for auto retailing. So Why is CX So Important? In my last article , I wrote about the possible future outlook of 2030 in the industry and auto retailing. The fact is that it is quite unknown. Will retailers become less relevant? How will service and parts business be sustainable in the current footprint with more electric and autonomous vehicles in the sales mix? What will be the new car sales levels in the next few years with the pandemic effect and more at-home workers (less commuting)? These are unknowns but the constant for the industry, or at least the shifting of the industry from new car vehicle transactions to a mobility enabler will be the customer. Traditional new car sales will not sustain the industry forever. The customers will. Customer expectations and customer needs will continue to shift, but we must adapt and be the provider of the experience. If you follow the customers, you will follow the revenue and profits. Their needs and their journey are what the industry will transform around. Auto retailers must build and become a "Customer Network Platform" for mobility, providing access, services and experiences... whatever they may be. An engagement, a bond and connection must be fortified between retailers and customers to transform together and not focus on the product, or the transaction, but on delivery of a mobility experience. That will secure the sustainability of a retailer in the future. As mentioned in the opening quote by Tom Knighton, "Customer Experience is the next competitive battleground." Businesses who deliver upon an experience, will find the right products, services and value bundles to offer and deliver to customers. The customers value the experience and they will drive their needs into the industry, or others will come in and deliver upon it. Five Action Steps to Take Now I don't want to paint a total doom and gloom picture here. Many retailers have taken great strides to improve customer processes, customer engagement and the overall experience. Much work has been done by many to improve system integration and data availability to help support a holistic customer experience. More focus has been placed on this issue and that is a good thing. Here are 5 areas I suggest be constantly focused on to continuously improve and keep customer experience the driving mission in your business. The recommended actions are: One view of the customer - Continue to integrate systems and data to have one single view of the customer. A service experience should not be a separate incident from a sales transaction or part purchase. It should be one single journey of that customer with personalized engagements along the way. Work to get one single source of truth of customer information across all channels, all departments and all engagements. Focus on need not the sale - One of the major reasons customers are so dissatisfied with the sales and service process is the lack of understanding, empathy and fulfillment of their actual need. Customers are often not asked about their needs for a new car, or their needs around timing or availability of a service experience but are rather mandated their options. Don't reward and measure metrics that only focus on transaction volume or transaction satisfaction. Make the customer experience the focus, the priority and the mission. Channel Consistency and Information Access - The customer process across any channel at any time should be one of consistency. Starting this process over and over each time they access a new channel or talk to a new person should not be part of the journey. The ability to quickly access information and find value is of utmost importance. Leverage virtual agents, chat functions and self-help functions to assist customers to access what they need quickly and easily. Examples include service updates, price information and inventory availability. Personalization - Don't lose sight as you begin building tools and capabilities to deliver customer experiences - they need to be adaptable to individuals. Each customer is unique and the focus should be on building and delivering capabilities that can adapt and personalize each and every experience. Customer recognition, customer specific need fulfillment and unique treatment will make each customer experience special. It keeps customers coming back, no matter the actual product or service of the future. Create "Wow" Factors - Find, develop and deliver experiences that set your dealership apart. What will make your dealership relevant and differentiated from the rest? Become known for something special that you can "own" and deliver. A "wow" builds the overall experience. Summary The Customer Experience will be what defines the future of our industry. The product, the transaction, the specific service will matter less. Why will they come and do business at your dealership? It cannot just be because of price or product availability, it must be more holistic and meet the customer's needs. Build and deliver a customer experience on each engagement, with each specific customer, over and over each time. This experience will define your dealership as being relevant and differentiating to a customer's mobility needs. This experience will sustain your business through unknowns of the future of the industry. If you enjoyed this article, take some time to listen to the latest podcast episode on Experimarketing  with  Colin Carrasquillo