There is a growing desire in the car industry to push the boundaries of customer satisfaction. We are all acutely aware that buying a car, for many customers, is not only a major financial commitment but also an emotive one.
With this in mind dealer groups and their manufacturer masters are investing heavily in training and coaching in order to really match their customer expectations. But what is great for some is not necessarily great for all.
I was reminded of this recently when in a sales managers office I looked at his wall to see it adorned with many letters of satisfaction from happy customers who felt moved enough to write in to express their gratitude at how they had been looked after. Things like this are always very satisfying for the management and give a clear indicator as to whether you have the right staff around you to deliver that kind of first class service. One thing that struck me though was the theme of some of the letters that seemed to show “relief” that they had been dealt with courteously and that the sales exec had actually listened to their concerns and desires. This seemed rather odd as surely that is the job of the sales exec anyway. So does that mean that customer expectations, when visiting a showroom are fairly low and experiencing basic levels of professionalism and service are seen to be reasons to actually write in?
Whilst I certainly do not want to knock any dealer who gets such a note it seems to me that there are some “easy wins” for car dealers just to get the basics right, if these letters are anything to go by.
Understanding that all customers are different and that there should never be a one size fits all approach to them could be the answer, even though in most showrooms there are rigidly enforced sales processes in place so the management can be sure that every opportunity is being maximised.
As with any sales process though there has to be flexibility to take account of what kind of buyer is in front of you. For example, if that is someone who has bought the same car for years and knows the dealer and the model line up well it could be agreeing the deal is the only thing. On the other hand it can be someone completely new to the brand on offer and therefore a more gently qualifying approach is needed to establish what, if any, hotspots there maybe for this kind of customer. Then there is the buyer who has no emotional involvement in buying a car whatsoever, it’s just a practical decision and let’s get the whole thing over and done with.
There are, of course, many more examples of the differences in what customers who buy cars want but from a sales execs point of view the one vital thing he needs when presenting the product to his customer is the ability to communicate. He or she needs to be able to do this effectively with many different types of customer and quickly understand their needs. Fully understanding individual needs will not only aid the customer in making the right a decision but should also lead to many more letters on walls praising staff for more than just what should be the norm in a service industry.