Putting Your Customers at the Center of Your Dealership

Customer-centricity at the dealership

Putting Your Customers at the Center of Your Dealership

How brands are winning with customer-centricity

January 24, 2020

What’s at the center of your dealership operations? Is it getting more sales? What about making sure you run a tight ship? We’d argue that the center should be your customer. Customer-centricity is the one thing that can guarantee success at your dealership this year and beyond.

And we’re not the only ones who think so:

  • Entrepreneur magazine recently called customer-centricity “the key to a competitive advantage.”
  • Last summer, Forbes ran a list of 100 of the Most Customer-Centric Companies
  • That same list noted that customer-centric companies “bring in 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors.”

Companies Centered Around the Customer

Being customer-centric starts with knowing your customers and ends with exceeding their expectations, time and time again.

With fast growth in powerful data analytics, understanding your customers has never been easier. Once you’ve gleaned customer insights from your dealership data, all you need are ways to communicate it. Do this right every time and they can’t help but see your value.

Brands are wowing customers every day. Let’s take a look at a few of the customer-centric companies in other verticals that made Forbes‘ list.

Citizens Financial Group

The top-ranked bank in the Temkin Experience Ratings, Citizens Financial Group, is leading-edge in customer-centricity.  They recognize that the customer journey is far from a straight line. Citizens created its “Made Ready” platform and campaign to be personalized to each customer’s unique needs. That might include buying a house later in life, downsizing, starting a business at a young age, going back to school, etc.

The platform was born at least partially from Citizens’ decision several years ago to build its own data analytics capabilities. They wanted to better understand and meet customer needs. These efforts included forming an in-house team of data scientists. This resulted in Citizens’ ability to view customers holistically by blending multiple internal and external data sources.

“This platform is all about taking the best of Citizens – the trust we’ve established, the relationships we’ve built, and the community roots we’ve grown – and marrying it with personalized insights powered by our advanced data and analytics that help put us in a position to help people in every step of their journey,” Beth Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer at Citizens Bank, recently told The Financial Brand.

Johnson added that Citizens’ sophisticated analytics tools doesn’t just power the bank’s digital channel capabilities. It also feeds into the CRM and other tools to enable branch staff to have better-informed conversations with customers. That spells even greater personalization.

Warby Parker

Highly customer-centric from the start, eyeglass retail innovator Warby Parker has an interesting background story. Four college students founded the company in 2010 with the intention of cutting brick-and-mortar out of the eyeglass shopping experience. Three years later – by customer demand – Warby Parker opened its first retail store, in New York City. Three years after that, they were up to 36 stores, with half of the brand’s revenue coming from brick-and-mortar sales. Today, they have 64 stores, and counting.

Besides changing their entire business model to better suit their customers’ needs, Warby Parker has committed itself to analyzing data to the same end.

“If you believe in putting the customer first as a strategy, then you just find ways to create better and better experiences,” co-CEO Neil Blumenthal recently told Entrepreneur. “Eventually that takes you to data.”

Every sales associate carries a tablet connecting them to online activity made by the customer. If the customer “favorited” a pair of eyeglasses online, for example, the sales associate has that information right at their fingertips. This allows for a seamless online-to-offline transition.

“We’re finding that 75% of people that buy something in our store have been to our website first,” Warby Parker’s other co-CEO, Dave Gilboa, told an audience at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago. “What they really value is convenience, so we invested in technology to make the online and offline experience as convenient as possible.”

Best Buy

Seven years ago, people thought Best Buy would be destroyed by Amazon, former Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly told attendees of the Adobe 2019 Summit. But numbers don’t lie – the brand has seen a continuous increase in total revenue in recent years. That includes an increase of about 8.8% from 2017 to 2019 ($39.4 billion to $42.9 billion last year).

What’s Best Buy’s secret? According to Joly, the company kicked things off by matching Amazon’s pricing and fast, free delivery. Further CX improvements included revamping its website, making in-store changes, and investing in its employees to reduce turnover. Best Buy even offers free home visits and a tech support option that covers all tech products in a customer’s home, not just the one that was purchased.

Digitization has also been key to Best Buy’s transformation, Joly said. Regarding tech support, each tech advisor has fast access to current, key information on the customer, including which products they have in their home, past calls, etc. This saves a lot of time and frustration for the customer.

They even transformed their marketing, using a hefty customer database, with 12,000 attributes and powerful analytics, to allow for targeted marketing.

Newly appointed CEO Corie Barry is continuing the customer-centric focus started by Joly, with an aim to be the leading source of “tech with a human touch.” Their core idea is that selling a consumer a laptop or television gives you a customer for a day, but helping them install it, teaching them how to use it, and making a house call when they can’t figure out the remote creates a customer for life.

Best Buy has proved that being innovative in meeting customer’s needs pays off.

Takeaways for Dealership Operations

Investing in customer-centricity is where it’s at for 2020 and beyond. It refocuses your dealership’s “why” on the customer and allows you to meet ever-changing needs in a relevant, timely way.

The “how” doesn’t require investing in your own team of data scientists to gather, analyze, and actionize data. AutoAlert has been building such databases since our start, in 2002. It’s one of the reasons we have the best data in the industry.

Harness your data. Empower your team. Focus your dealership operations. Learn more about shifting your brand to a more customer-centric approach in our free ebook, Breathing Life into the Customer Experience: A Customer-Centric Approach To Running Your Dealership.”

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