Somebody recently told me that they would never buy a car from a particular dealership because of a bad experience they had there. Whether the personal boycott was warranted or not doesn’t really matter as perception can quickly damage reality.
According to a recent Dimensional Research survey, more than half of respondents said they share bad customer service experiences with at least five people. Almost as many respondents also said they take their complaints to social media, where negative attention can increase exponentially.
From just one bad experience, your dealership’s reputation can start to spiral downward. Customers who have never interacted with your dealership might avoid it entirely based on personal recommendations. A bad reputation can cost you customers, sales and revenue.
That’s why it’s important to put an emphasis on providing excellent customer service every day and doing anything you can to maintain a positive reputation in your community. Here are some ways you can step up your service and improve your reputation.
Dealerships can sometimes approach employee — especially salespeople —training with a sink-or-swim mentality. Either your new sales reps have the ability to sell 30 cars a month or they don’t. And they won’t last long if they can’t. However, a lack of training can lead to even good sales reps mishandling a situation with a customer. On the other hand, training that’s too broad can leave gaps if your reps struggle with specific issues.
That’s where targeted training can help your team provide great service across the board. Personalized reviews of employees based off survey responses, recorded phone calls, and email or text correspondence can help you and your training team find areas where your employees have been deficient. These reviews might also help you find potential issues before they develop into a full-blown bad customer service experience.
Have you ever called a business and been transferred two or three times before leaving a voicemail for somebody who might be able to help you? While everybody likes to think that their dealership sales reps answer every call and respond to every lead promptly, that’s not always the case. In fact, some callers don’t even get the right department when they call.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had somebody tell me they had really liked a car but couldn’t get a dealership to call them back. Getting callers where they need to go and having the tools in place to respond to missed calls quickly will convince your customers that you’re going to provide them with the best service, no matter what their buying situation is. Consider using software that can alert a rep or manager when calls are missed or aren’t returned, improving response time and boosting your image.
You likely already advertise at local community events such as youth sports or citywide holiday celebrations. How do you engage your potential customers at these events? Do you put your logo on a banner that will hang from a wall? Do you bring a few cars from the lot and have sales reps on hand to talk to people?
You can improve your reputation by using these events as more than just an advertising opportunity. These are chances to show that you’re a part of the community and you’re willing to give back. Instead of putting the focus on the cars, consider renting a grill and passing out food. If the event is on a hot day or evening, have fans you can pass out.
Just be sure you’re not getting involved in your community just to gain customers. While that is a nice benefit, your community will also see right through you if you’re putting too much emphasis on the dealership and not on doing the right thing.
If you’ve seen your reputation take a hit, what steps have you taken to improve your customer service and standing in the community? Let me know in the comments.