The Mystery of the Spare Key

Customer-centricity at the dealership

The Mystery of the Spare Key

When dealership operations meets customer-centric expectations

January 29, 2020

So, we’ve taken a quick look at customer-centricity and what it means to be customer-centric. It’s not a huge leap of logic to see how relationship-driven businesses can benefit from this approach. But the best route for dealerships to get there may be a little unclear.

According to, “Almost every major report, including our own CX report, has shown that organizations aren’t able to join functions, departments and capabilities together in order to deliver a consistent, meaningful customer experience.”

Oof. If you’ve struggled with putting these pieces together, you’re not alone. Taking your CX strategy from good intention to flawless execution will require collaboration and the right tools.

The article above continues: “…that’s down to organizational process and structure. Great organizational design identifies the right collaborative ways of working that help break down silos, give a single view of journeys and empower members of organizations to make the right decisions quickly that make a big difference.”

Time to Adjust the Playbook

The gap between keeping your customers front-and-center of everything you do and putting that knowledge into regular, effective practice is impressive and daunting.

Even with the best intent, it’s easy to misstep along your customer’s journey. They expect you to be proactive. You have to understand them. And only reach out in ways that are relevant and timely. You also need to resolve issues when some things don’t go quite right.

Let’s consider a not-uncommon example. Meet Olivia. She’s an otherwise happy car buyer, who, unfortunately, left without the second key she was promised when she purchased. She’d like to drop in over a lunch break or briefly after work to grab it. To make sure that she remains happy, you need to rectify this quickly.

Addressing issues like this should be simple. Communication between departments about customer needs should be seamless. There should be no question of how to get this done.

When Reality Happens

Instead of seamlessly meeting Olivia’s expectation, you find yourself in a losing game of hot potato. Her request is passed around from department to department. Meanwhile, she feels trapped in the red tape of your dealership operations. All for just trying to get the key she should have left with when she bought the car from you.

Ready-made processes in place would make situations like this so easy. The ability to access all records of customer contact and staff actions means no more guessing. You’ll always know where things are at any point in the resolution process. If anyone at the dealership could start the process, every team member would be empowered to take care of virtually any customer need.

Stop Passing the Post-it Note

Let’s take a look at all the possible points of failure along the journey to get Olivia her spare key. She calls in and talks to the receptionist. We can only hope that they remember to tell Olivia’s salesperson. If that happens, a Post-It gets left at the parts counter, which promptly gets shuffled into a pile of papers. Sound familiar?

It shouldn’t matter who fields that first contact. Any team member that answers a call like Olivia’s should be able to:

  • Quickly view her customer profile in your dealership software
  • Confirm her vehicle to ensure that she gets the right key
  • Activate an automated process to get her request moving
  • Alert the parts department of the new order
  • Verify Olivia’s preferred method of contact so you can update her on the status of her request

No misplaced messages leading to missed customer-centric opportunities.

From Fumble to Touchdown

So, you’ve managed to get the key and it’s ready for Olivia. What happens then? Enter the black hole where communications go to die. Often dealership operations fails to track a request through to completion for accountability and customer satisfaction.

Getting Olivia in for a quick service visit to pair the key to her car should be a cinch. Know why? She told you what time of day she preferred when she called. If it’s not noted in her customer contact log, your team has to ask her to repeat information.

Being customer-centric ensures that Olivia is contacted the way she wants with the appointment that fits her schedule. You’ll be ready to provide the best customer experience in situations that start out a little rocky. Then, when you’ve exceeded her expectations, you can ask her to share how quick and easy it was to get her spare key with a customer survey.

Putting it All Together

Shifting your dealership operations to be more customer-centric starts with asking these three questions:

  • Does your dealership break down silos with an effective way to collaborate?
  • Do you have quick access to customer contacts for a single view of the customer’s journey?
  • Are processes in place so that your employees are empowered to meet any customer request?
  • Collaborative. Accessible. Empowering. Dealership operations need workflows that help your entire team meet or exceed your customers’ expectations.

    Lots of people claim to have a customer experience management solution. But the right one, designed specifically for dealership operations should:

    • Keep your dealership on the right track with an easy-to-follow process
    • Allow you to view and notate each touchpoint with a customer
    • Empower your team to seamlessly pick up where someone else left off

    Built-in processes, customer contact history and a dedicated team all add up to the organizational framework you need to craft engagement that put the focus where it should be – on the customer and their needs.