If you were to envision your dealership with a customer-centric culture, what would it look like?
Did your superstar salespeople come to mind? The ones who always greet customers cheerfully and seem to make sales flow effortlessly?
If so, you’re on the right track, because your culture is all about your people. In fact, culture by definition is “the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people.”
So the question essentially is: What would your dealership culture look like if your team was laser-focused on your customers?
There are some personalities that cater to the customers naturally. But anybody can provide an amazing experience in the right environment. Sometimes is comes down to having the right processes and tools in place.
That means you don’t have to clone those two or three superstar salespeople to create a fabulously customer-centered culture. But you do need to set a clear intention for your culture and provide your team with everything they need to be successful.
When it comes to getting customer-centricity right, your team is critical. Your people are the ones in contact with your customers. They strengthen brand loyalty and are ultimately responsible for providing the experiences customers expect. This includes everyone, in every department.
Harvard Business Review calls the lack of customer-centric organizational culture “the most common, and perhaps the greatest” barrier to customer-centricity.
If your commitment to the customer is communicated to members of your team from day one – and supported every day from then – you’ll find the mindset taking hold much more quickly.
As an added bonus, a recent study shows that customer-centric cultures lead to increased employee retention. So not only is it great for business overall, but it’s also great for building a strong dealership culture.
So, let’s look at three areas where culture grows and can be supported.
Culture starts first and foremost with your dealership’s leadership. Talking about your goals and ideals with your team is critical. But it’s even more important to show them. Here’s a few examples of customer-centric actions:
Note that you can swap out the word “customer” with “employee” in each of these. For example, regarding the third point, CEO of JetBlue Robin Hayes recently told Forbes: “Our customers must feel that we care about them. It’s very hard for our crew members to provide our customers that service if they don’t feel cared for themselves.”
Once leadership has committed to providing nothing less than superb customer experiences, start hiring people who are just as passionate about CX as you are.
New hires don’t have to share all of the same characteristics. But they do need to place a high value on serving your customers. You can even ask a question during interviews to gauge candidates’ customer orientation, like social media platform Hootsuite does. This helps ensure that you hire the right people while also sending a clear message dealership-wide that CX is an imperative.
Don’t forget to include the customer in your new-hire onboarding. Set expectations on how to greet, listen to, and respond to your customers. Define and perfect how a customer is transitioned from one department to another so that engagement is seamless. If your processes are already built around the customer, your dealership culture is fueled and ready to drive the type of experiences that yield brand loyalty.
Review and tweak your processes from time to time. Are they creating the experiences you’re aiming for? Are they meeting customer expectations?
Remember that today, customer-centric processes = data-backed processes. Customers want to feel known and want speedy, personalized experiences. Be sure to provide your team with tools to help them meet these needs.
Then be sure to regularly ask your team for feedback. Is there a skill they want to learn? A process they can’t quite master? Pair them up with a superstar on your team for fast results.
Customer-centric culture is important to all businesses, but even more so to those in the automotive industry. Unlike companies like Google or your cable provider, just about everybody working at your dealership has direct interactions with your customer. This makes culture even more important. It also gives you the benefit of using each touchpoint to build brand loyalty and wow your customers.
Plus, fair or not, we have some making up to do. Let’s make equating the car-buying experience with a trip to the dentist history. Inspire your dealership culture from the top down. Lay the foundation with your onboarding process. And keep marching toward stronger dedication to customer-centricity with each and every interaction.