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How to be a customer service champion

By Lauren McLean

The happiness and loyalty of your customers is not something to take lightly. Conventional business wisdom, according to LinkedIn, says that it costs 10 times as much to earn a new customer than to keep a current one. According to data from Accenture, more than half of consumers will end their loyalty to a particular business after having a poor customer service experience. Lithium Technologies found that “83 percent of customers care just as much about how you treat them as what you’re selling.” This tells us that beyond providing the variety of inventory your customers want, in high-quality condition, your biggest focus should be on customer service.

We know that it’s not only important to provide outstanding customer service, but it is vital to do so, to protect the success of your dealership. The facts tell us that quality customer service in retail is valued just as important or more important than the products themselves.

Naturally, the next topic of conversation becomes how to make sure you’re providing outstanding customer service. The basis of good customer service and first step is incredibly simple, but many businesses don’t do it.

Listen to your customers. Instead of assuming you know what they want, ask them! This is especially doable in a dealership environment, where customers are primarily local. Engage with them to find out what they like and don’t like – plenty of assistance when they’re browsing your store, or a laid-back environment? Follow-up via phone or email? A waived service fee or a free product with purchase?

Taking the time to interact with your customers achieves two things: It helps you form your customer service strategy, but it also shows your customers that you care about them and you’re putting them first.

Identify the key moments in your customer’s buying experience, and consider how you can make them better. A few obvious ones would include the first visit to your store, the day they make a purchase, and so on. Using information you could collect from customers themselves, try to mold the buying experience so that you’re able to meet their needs, wants, and expectations.

For example, many people dread the process that comes with filling out financial paperwork with a big purchase. What could you and your team do or offer to make that process less painful?

Create a customer service process for team members to follow. Train your employees and equip them with the resources they need to deliver an outstanding experience for the customer they are working with. If there is a specific process that they know how to follow, then that employee will likely be much more successful.

For example: If a customer reacts X way to the price of a unit, do X to save the sale.

…But don’t forget about personalization. Not all customers are the same. Teach your team members to be flexible and recognize when a customer has a want or need that doesn’t fit into the process. Empower them to know how and when to step out of the box to provide that experience the customer wants.

Hold yourselves accountable. Emphasize to employees that all team members are working toward a common goal, and quality customer service is centered on that. If everyone does their best to follow through, you’ll likely begin to see pretty outstanding results.

Evaluate the current status of customer service at your dealership – how are you doing? Are there areas that you could improve?

Lauren McLean is the public relations manager for Dealer Spike, a company that provides innovative websites as well as a suite of powerful online advertising solutions that help marine dealers help increase sales and service profitability. For more information, visit www.DealerSpikeMarine.com or call 800-288-5917.

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