By Charlie Polston,
Automotive Customer Retention and Profitability Consultant,
BG Products, Inc.
Happy New Year! I'm hoping 2023 will be more normal than the past three years. The pandemic is over (I think), the mid-term elections are behind us, and more people are working than almost any time in history.
But the world has changed. It doesn't take a degree in behavioral science or psychology to know that people have become more isolated – working remotely at home, getting everything from groceries to automobiles delivered to their home, and even getting video medical care at home.
The automotive service industry has catered to the isolation by having digital kiosks, mobile scheduling, mobile service, and concierge vehicle pick-up and delivery.
With so much emphasis on less human contact, it is rather ironic that the new buzz is centered around "customer experience." It seems like the rationale goes like this: 1) a good customer experience on the service
drive leads to 2) good customer satisfaction (CSI) and results in 3) good customer
retention; then, when satisfied customers return to the dealership, they’ll 4) spend
The process usually stops there, yet, the only way customers will spend more money is if they are asked by a service sales professional.
The service sales process, when done correctly, enhances the customer experience, and the circle is complete.
The service sales process involves personal interaction, person-to-person communication, and outrageous customer care. The isolation of the pandemic and the explosion of digital devices have caused us to lose something as a society. We have forgotten that people matter most. We aren't in the automotive business; we are in the people business.
The way for consumers (vehicle owners) to have the ultimate customer experience is for your service personnel to do all the things they learned at mother’s knee, in kindergarten, or Sunday School:
This is nothing new. The rules of behavior have never
changed and have proven effective for thousands of years.
You want your customers to love you, right? You want them to gush about you on social media. You want them to be raving fans, don't you? Well, then follow the simple principles listed above. No one wants to do business with a cynical, jaded, grumpy jerk. They don't want to be around a foul-mouthed, obnoxious, low-IQ curmudgeon. I'm not saying you have to appear weak. I'm just saying that a strong-willed person with a kind heart will blow your customers away. A spine of steel and a soft heart is a winning combination.
Consumers gravitate toward a gentleman with good manners, a woman with a spirit of graciousness, a person that is polite and respectful.
I have said it many times: The ultimate customer experience tool, customer satisfaction tool, and customer retention tool is the ability to sell preventive maintenance services. So often, vehicle owners see the dealership as a place to get free warranty work and a glorified Jiffy Lube for oil changes. When the warranty expires, consumers are out the door so fast it will make your head spin.
The customers are the dealership's to lose, and that is what happens if you don't sell preventive maintenance services while you have the chance. Be nice and sell needed maintenance; they will not only keep coming back, but they'll spend money when they do!
The automotive landscape may continue to change, but the important things remain the same!
Charlie Polston is an automotive customer retention, and profitability consultant with BG Products, Inc. Charlie has been with BG’s Fixed
Operations Division for over 38 years. He has trained over 7,500 dealers,
managers, and technicians – and has been a frequent workshop leader at NADA’s