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Make your customer’s journey an exceptional experience

By Derek Danner

The changing expectations of consumers are ultimately affecting how successful retailers run their businesses. No longer are consumers solely shopping for best price. Rather, today’s purchase decisions are being made based on the consumer’s overall customer experience with the business along with the posted experiences of others found on review sites and social media. Think of the last major purchase you made. Most likely, the product was priced competitively, but the differentiating factor in who you decided to purchase from was based on customer reviews and your overall customer experience throughout your purchase journey.

We have entered the age of “The Customer Experience” where your dealership’s success can be made or broken based on the customer’s perception of how they were treated by you. By the year 2020, customer experience will top price and product as the key purchasing factor.*

Delivering an exceptional customer experience doesn't begin the day the customer enters your dealership. It begins the day your customer has a need for the products and services you offer. And if you'd like to create a long-term relationship with that customer, the delivery of that exceptional customer experience never ends.

Improving the customer experience begins with mapping out the entire customer journey from initial search to ongoing customer relationship.

As you map out that journey, consider the technology both you and your customers are using and how you can utilize that technology to improve the experience.

One starting point could be simply ensuring your company information is correctly listed on your Google My Business page. Claim your page and review your dealership information, including location, hours, contact information, etc. Imagine, as a customer, how frustrating it would be to obtain your dealership’s business information online, drive to your location, only to discover that you closed at 5pm and not 6pm, as stated on your Google business listing. Not only have you lost a potential sale, you may have gained a negative online review as well, in turn, adversely influencing other potential buyers.

After discovering your dealership online, the next stop on the customer journey could be your website. Evaluate your website from a customer's point of view. Is your site built using responsive technology to provide an optimal user experience? If users can’t easily navigate your website from a smaller screen, they are less likely to continue shopping.

Your website must also protect your customer’s data by utilizing HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer protocol Secure) technology to ensure that data passed between your website and web browsers remains private and protected.

Equally important to the customer experience, your website needs to provide the answers your customers are looking for. Is your available inventory listed and easy to locate? Is there detailed information on the types of services you perform? Are your location, phone number and hours easy to find?

When your customer leaves your website, hopefully their journey with your dealership continues on with a visit to your store or a submitted quote request. As you evaluate areas for customer experience improvement, consider your lead manager. For starters, are you using a lead manager for more than a place to store leads? Your lead manager contains valuable information such as sales and trade-in history that when used, can personalize your customer's experience.

As the customer's journey brings them closer to a sales transaction with you, consider what your DMS brings to the table. If you’re still operating with pen & paper, think about the extra time taken to determine inventory availability while your customer patiently waits. Your DMS should streamline the sales process, getting the customer out the door with their new purchase as quickly and efficiently as possible. And by upgrading your point of sale terminals with EMV chip card readers your customers can leave feeling confident that their card data is secure.

After the initial sale, you continue to influence the customer experience with post sale reach, including phone calls, satisfaction surveys, service reminders and ongoing marketing. Are you using technology such as an automated email marketing solution to help you create and maintain long-term relationships?

As you implement changes to improve upon the customer experience, monitor your online reviews to see how you’re doing. And while you’re at it - respond to your reviews. All of them. The good and the bad. By reaching out to the reviewer and responding to their complaint or praise, you're demonstrating that you listen and care about the experience you deliver. Again, improving on the customer experience.

Downplaying the importance of a great customer experience is not an option. Price and product will always be an important factor in a customer's decision to do business with you, but an exceptional experience throughout the entire customer journey is what will keep you ahead of your competition.

*32 Customer Experience Statistics you Need to Know for 2017

Derek Danner is the marketing coordinator for DX1, the complete dealership management platform for the powersports industry. DX1 gives dealers access to everything they need to manage and market their dealerships, including DMS, website & online marketing tools. Dealers save time and eliminate frustration with the efficiency of one login, one dashboard and a single database where customer and inventory data is stored.

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