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Customer experience: How powersports dealerships can achieve excellence

BY SCOTT HOCHMUTH

The buzzword phrase “customer experience” is a popular concept in business today and is the result of every point of contact between the customer and the seller over the duration of a business relationship. A rating of good or excellent customer experience is usually attained by the interaction matching or exceeding the customer’s expectation.  Therefore, businesses benefit from identifying customer expectations and striving to meet and exceed those expectations.  For powersports dealerships, the following aspects can help provide a framework for achieving an excellent customer experience:

  1. Information. The first contact a new customer may have with a dealership may be with the website. Does the website provide accurate and thorough information? Does the website list makes and models of available vehicles and include brands of accessories like helmets and apparel? Are business hours, location, and contact information up-to-date and easy to find? Can customers submit a question or request through the site and be answered or accommodated in a timely manner?
  2. Social Media Presence. Does the dealership have social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to inform and engage your customer base? Does the dealership have a dedicated staff member assigned to creating posts and responding to comments, reviews, and questions? Do social media offerings reflect that the dealership is selling “fun” and leave customers with a positive feeling?
  3. First Impression. How is the curb appeal of the dealership? Is the parking lot and surrounding area clean and outside of the building inviting? Once inside, is there a clear walkway and signage for the various departments? Are the floors, windows, displays, and restrooms clean? Is the dealership well merchandised with the latest and most popular products?  Is the customer greeted by staff members upon entry?
  4. Knowledgeable and Welcoming Staff. Do dealership employees actively and enthusiastically engage with the customer? Are staff  knowledgeable about the available products? Are staff able to identify customer needs and suggest the best products to meet those needs?
  5. Customer Service. Are employees at the dealership properly trained to interact with customers? Are goals for these interactions periodically discussed and reviewed by management?  Are phone calls answered quickly in a friendly or welcoming voice? Are customers promptly directed to the staff member best suited to answer questions or deal with a problem? Does management return customer messages within a reasonable time? Is there a clean and comfortable waiting area with entertainment options for customers waiting for service to be completed?  Are beverages or snacks available in the waiting area? Are promises kept? Do employees follow up with customers to determine the level of satisfaction? What is done when customer expectations are not met? Do customers receive the same high level of service in every area of the dealership – sales, financing, service, parts, and accessories?

Excellent customer experience is the sum of all of these aspects.  Identify every point of contact with customers and constantly attend to areas in need of improvement.  Remember, just one negative incident can ruin the whole experience for the customer. Following up with customers for feedback is absolutely necessary.  Also, be sure to ask employees for feedback to assess where help is needed to take better care of customers.  Further, empower staff with the tools and policies needed for success.  Unfortunately, the customer experience bar is often set too low in today’s marketplace.  Taking a little time and effort to stand out and give the customer that “wow” experience will help increase return business and lead to more recommendations to the dealership.

Scott Hochmuth is the owner of Real Performance Marketing, an Atlanta-based company representing seven different powersports related product lines in the Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee areas. He comes face-to-face with over 200 dealers every 8 weeks. He has been in sales since 1982 and started in the powersports industry in 1989 as a sales representative for a helmet manufacturer.

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