December 12, 2014

Experience counts

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At MTI we have always promoted best practice and outstanding customer service. However we do realise that one size most certainly doesn’t fit all and that it can also be a two way street.

Many customers can enter showrooms in “attack mode” simply because they’ve had bad experiences elsewhere and although it can give a bad impression of the business as a whole it is clearly not representative of the experiences most people have in car dealerships every day.

The one aspect that perhaps differentiates car retailing from the high street is the sheer potential size of the purchase. For example if you have a bad experience or choose the wrong laptop or oven then it is not necessarily a financial catastrophe if you get it wrong. On the other hand get it wrong with a car it can be disastrous so it is understandable that buyers are far more likely to be on their guard and demand a bit more care and professionalism when deciding what car to buy. As a result of such an emotional purchase car dealers have a duty, certainly if they want to be successful, to develop a process whereby their customers are not only given peace of mind but also a truly great experience.

Ironically just lately we have been speaking to many disillusioned sales execs who have worked for franchised dealers and who have become bogged down by the sheer volume of paperwork and intrusive questions they are expected to ask and which have been counter-productive and turned many customers off.

The power the manufacturers now weald over dealers can be suffocating and although they are aiming for dealers to present their products in the best possible light and realising the value in customer centricity, many in the industry think they have gone too far, especially now that financial rewards can be affected by poor customer satisfaction scores.

As I alluded to earlier we are all different, when I am making a potential purchase especially if I’m not exactly sure of what I’m buying and whether it is the right thing for me, I like someone who knows what they are talking about, explains the options and price differences, lets me know the funding options and allows me to make up my mind, someone who is friendly and interested without wanting to be my best friend or find out my life story. However there are, of course, those people that want the absolute full treatment and are happy to spend hours chewing the fat with a shop assistant or sales exec until they can agree a deal, but lots of customers are being turned off by having to give out lots of information before they are even allowed to see the inside of a car. The winners of all this bureaucracy appear to be the independent dealers who generally employ people with a knowledge and experience of multiple brands and different age and mileage profiles and who have a track record of success when selling cars and who perhaps have become disillusioned by the constraints of working in a franchised dealership.

Whilst accompanying a friend to a car dealership in Cheltenham recently, where he was looking at a tasty Jag, I was very impressed with the atmosphere and attitude shown by the staff who seemed more mature than normal and were not preoccupied with reading to you from a script and created an easy ambience in which to have a dialogue around the cars suitability and price.

Yes of course we know of many dealers who are struggling no matter how great the experience they offer, but the fact is that many are thriving and are winning lots of business from franchised dealers both through used cars and leasing simply because they are interested in delivering a great experience.

Under promise and over deliver and do exactly what you say you’re going to do.

As customers that’s basically all we need to do business.


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