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Promises, Phone Processes and People

There is a reason great and rapidly growing brands like Subaru have laser focus on their customers’ phone experience, as well as email, chat and text. Subaru advertises “Live. Love.” and “The Love Promise,” and so they deliver their love for their customers at every touchpoint.

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Chip King spent his career in automotive retail from 1977-2008, holding every position in variable operations from GM to DP. In 2008, Chip founded the company CallRevu in his dealership, working as the CEO until he sold the business in 2019. His vast experience as an entrepreneur, developing companies from the ground up, led him to ZipDeal. Chip's passion about the customer experience is the reason he's highly sought after for many of the industry's biggest and best dealer conferences.

There is a reason great and rapidly growing brands like Subaru have laser focus on their customers’ phone experience, as well as email, chat and text. Subaru advertises “Live. Love.” and “The Love Promise,” and so they deliver their love for their customers at every touchpoint. Subaru’s consistent delivery of love has created brand loyalty that rewards them with customer forgiveness when they occasionally fail to meet their promise.

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Dealers build their brand on similar statements to Subaru, such as, “Your Dealer for Life,” “It’s About You,” “The Right Way,” etc. Dealers who dedicate themselves to fulfilling these messages on the early touchpoints experience success. Dealers who fail to deliver on their promise during their first contact, however, lose new customers before they ever speak to them. About 24 percent of new customers who hang up on hold or voicemails on their first call to a dealer never re-engage.

The good news is that dealers can fix this.

Processes Should Make People Shine

You have a phone process in place today, but is it a process by default or a process designed to prevent failure? Processes should be customer centric and employee focused. For example, don’t assume that you’re improving the experience for your customer by switching from a phone tree auto-attendant to a human operator. True, statistics show that most people try to bypass automated options in hopes of talking to a live operator, but if it’s a poorly chosen, poorly trained employee who simply answers and transfers, you’re not helping your customer experience;  you’re diminishing it.

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People Respond to People, Not Robots

Instead of sticking to a script and sounding like a robot, simply talk to the customer. People respond better to a conversation than a “recording.” At the beginning, rather than looking at callers as opportunities to collect into your system, greet them as you would a guest in your home. “Whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with?” Not because I want to put you in my CRM, but because it’s polite and part of a natural introduction. You’ll still receive their contact information, but as a byproduct of a conversation, rather than the result of a rigid process.

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Most importantly, listen to your callers. When their introductory request is about a specific vehicle, know that they are a new customer opportunity. Have a process just for this class of caller.

Fixing the phones requires fresh ideas, and that can only come with measurement. What is the impact of your phone, text, chat and email performance on your advertising dollar? Will you make the hard changes to your processes and the commitment to training your people that it takes to serve today’s wired customer?

Car buying and servicing are significant events, and if employees act as trusted partners, they’ll win customer’s hearts — even if they wind up buying from another dealership. They’ll remember the impression you left in the future. They’ll remember that you delivered on your promise.

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Your customers tell you every day what you need to do to grow your business. It’s more important than ever that you listen.

Chip King

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