The Customer Centric Culture

You could give them a Nikola Tesla quality comparison of your inventory, but if they don't feel loved, they won't be back.

By DANIELLE ARTUS

We've seen the term Customer-Centricity thrown around quite a bit in recent years by everyone from Customer Relation Managers to Financial institutes. You may even see it pop up on one of our own product pages (wink, wink). And while it sounds neat, the customer being the center of the universe, do you really understand what it is? Is it something that you should implement in your own practice, and do you have the budget to tackle such a trend?

 

What is Customer Centric?

Simply put, customer centricity is a business mentality from which all major and minor decisions are made. These decisions are, in fact, centered around what's best for your target consumer, which means that all other considerations are secondary. This includes the company's bottom line, employees, and budget. Now, remember, it's never best for the consumer to watch your business go under or to lack funds for research, improvements, growth, etc. It does, however, necessitate a cultural agreement among personnel and executive alike. The successful customer-centric dealership places their primary focus on the target consumers' needs and balances all other choices from there.

"If a customer likes you and continues to like you, they will do business with you. If they don't, they won't." -Paul Greenburg

Why is Customer-Centricity Important?

When was the last time you compared products/services for yourself or your family? If I had to guess, it wasn't all that long ago. It's something we do all the time. Whether we're looking for a new suite/dress, flooring, plumbing, or a vehicle, we always begin with some sort of independent research.

That's because our culture has trained us (and by us I mean all generations of us) to find our own answers before we meet a salesperson. As consumers, we've amassed an enormous library of data to explore - so much that we never really have to leave our couch to be 80% informed. 

In the end, it's the final 20% of information that really decides ...

  1. Where will I purchase this product?
  2. How much will I pay for it?
  3. Will I return for a 2nd, 3rd or even 4th purchase?

This is the personal stuff. This 20% of information is where we're looking for something that cuts through the cold hard features/benefits of a vehicle, and provides us with emotional satisfaction.

According to a Harris Interactive Survey, 86% of consumers indicated that they would pay more for a product/service if guaranteed superior service. In addition, 89% of respondents who had recently switched from a business to its competitor did so because of poor service.

Be it a story, a friendly face or an authentic interest in you as a person, that final 20% of a buyer's research is the difference between a sale and a lost prospect. We've learned to do our own research, now we expect something extra from the seller. If we don't get it, we're going to move on, so make every opportunity count.

Key Components of a Customer-Centric Dealership

  • A Clearly illustrated dealership narrative that encompasses the entire staff, all personal interactions, and all decisions. 
  • All employees, from the book-keeper to the salesperson, meet the expectations of the environment you've created. A customer can expect the same great service from anyone at the dealership. 
  • The customers' experience is at the forefront of all your decisions. If it's not best for your customer, it's not best for you.
  • Retain critical and personal information about your customers so your last interaction with them, be it the last year or the last decade feels like last week. From a name, you should be able to extract a photo, purchase history, and personal notes.

What does a customer-centric atmosphere cost?

Ideally, the customer-centric dealership culture soars beyond the showroom and follows internet leads through their purchasing journey. Athough this strategy has generated large profits for enterprise level business, it does involve a full CRM service, user experience testing, ad retargeting, email strings, and on and on.  In calculating the costs, you'll find that, for most small businesses, the ROI is minuscule at best.

What is a realistic customer centric goal for my independent dealership?

Just because  a full-commitment customer-centric plan is not in your budget, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't attempt to implement pieces of the stategy. For instance, an email service such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp won't cost much and will ensure that your leads are never forgotten or left uninformed. Likewise, a DMS software that sorts sales deals by customers, allows you to merge duplicate customers and keeps photos and notes on file for future reference is also an extremely inexpensive and efficient means of appealing to your customer's ego. Just knowing who your former customers are, remembering their children, anniversaries and faces, and keeping them well informed will take you a long way.

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