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Customers Want Easy: Just Ask Alexa

Give your customers a pleasant surprise they’ll tell their friends about. Alexa isn’t the only thing that runs by word of mouth.

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Studies have found that approximately 56 percent of customers said they’d buy more often if the process was not so difficult and 99 out of 100 buyers expect their car purchasing experience to be “hassle-driven.”

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In fact, most of us have our own personal examples of hassle-driven customer experience as we interact with businesses daily. It’s likely you’ve had the experience of calling your bank or cable company and been asked for your information and account number multiple times by multiple people. An experience that makes customers jump through hoops to do business promotes a “company-centric” verses a “customer-centric” mindset. Businesses that build processes to make it easy for themselves — and difficult for their customers — will never achieve customer loyalty.

If you want loyalty from customers, make it easy. The more convenient a customer’s experience, the more they want to do business with you.

That’s the premise behind the Customer Effort Score (CES), a key performance indicator (KPI) that measures how much effort your customers put into getting an issue resolved or obtaining a service with a business. A Harvard Business Review (HBR) study recently found 94 percent of customers reporting low effort said they would repurchase, while 88 percent said they would increase their spending. It’s also a strong predictor of referral likelihood, as 81 percent of customers reporting high effort say they would speak negatively about the company to others.

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In a survey of 97,000 customers, one study found that exceeding customer expectations isn’t even enough. What really impacts customer loyalty numbers is minimal customer effort. So, how can the automotive industry begin to move faster toward multichannel experiences that are very low effort for the customer?

Today’s leading brands have engrained sophisticated technology — such as voice recognition and everyday conveniences like tap to pay — to the extent that it’s just become business as usual. Lyft and Uber users open the app, put in their destination of choice, are provided with a price, and typically within a few minutes are in their ride. The entire process is simple and transparent.

Amazon is another example of a frictionless experience that makes doing business easy. “We’re not competitor obsessed, we’re customer obsessed,” said Jeff Bezos. “We start with the customer and we work backwards…We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.” Your dealership doesn’t need to deliver Amazon-level service, but it does need to understand that Amazon and other brands are driving the fact that today’s customer expects companies will address their needs with precision and expertise at every touchpoint.

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Consider this dichotomy: I can order my groceries, get a daily compliment and turn my lights on and off just by talking to the digital doll, Alexa. Then I call a dealership and am faced with an eight-option phone tree, full voicemail boxes, long hold times and no one to help. This contrast in experience makes humanoids pale in comparison to the bots — and sinks our wired customer’s expectations in the process.

Your dealership doesn’t need to deliver Amazon level service – or does it? And can it?

  1. Put the customer first — Align your processes and people to support an outstanding experience. This means putting the right people in the right seats and coaching and developing them. If you want a frictionless experience for your customers, you need to develop those who are on the front lines providing it.
  2. Invent — Adopt a mindset of innovation and evolution and work with vendors who are equipped to support innovative strategies and technology (a list of such vendors can be found here)
  3. Be Patient — In a world of instant gratification, patience is a key ingredient to making small investments that lead to big returns.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. How easy is it to get answers to common questions your customers might ask of your dealership? In a world where things are getting ever-easier for the customer, don’t be the one transaction they dread. Give your customers a pleasant surprise they’ll tell their friends about — Alexa isn’t the only thing that runs by word of mouth.

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