Making the customer experience a priority may seem like the newest trend du jour, but it has been a solid business practice for some time. Successful businesses in highly competitive industries are testimony to customer focus as the way to sustained growth
So says Vivel Jaiswal, a co-founder of Customer Guru (www.customerguru.in), a consulting firm that helps clients become customer-centric. Writing about the importance of managing the customer experience, Jaiswal labels the customer “king” and backs it up with five key points highlighted here that are worth regularly reviewing in dealership staff meetings:
- Today’s customers are omnipotent! Freely translated, it means the customer is all-powerful, Jaiswal contends. “We’re living in an Internet-connected world, and that has given the customers the power to express their views about any product or service,” he explains. “These views, either positive or negative, can spread like wildfire. They also know what they want and won’t settle for less. No, you wouldn’t want to displease people who have so much power.”
- Today’s customers have a lot of other options! Let’s be real — the Internet has not only made it possible for customers to “broadcast” their opinions with just a few keystrokes. It has also opened myriad options from which to buy. Almost everything is now available at the click of a button. Whether we’re talking about boats, accessories or services, it’s easier for customers to find more alternatives in the marketplace. Dealerships need to separate from the pack and strive to be recognized for superior customer service and experiences.
- Without the customer, you’re broke! Right now, you’re thinking, “Of course — everyone knows that.” But when a customer walks through the door, is it on your mind that he or she is your success and should be treated accordingly? Companies can no longer ignore the power the customers hold. No matter how big or small a dealership is, it needs customers to survive, and every member of the dealership team must keep that top of mind. Maybe it can best be remembered this way: If you don’t successfully deal with customers, there will be no one to pay the team’s salaries. Jaiswal points to one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time — you can have any color as long as it’s black — Henry Ford, who put it this way: “It’s not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It’s the customer who pays the wages!”
- The customer can make or break it! So you spend lots of money advertising your dealership’s name and brands. All such investments help get a customer acquainted with your name. But despite the good advertising, sales promotions and social media programs, if today’s customers don’t love their experience with your dealership, it’s a ticket to failure. Jaiswal contends that companies such as Zappos and Dropbox are examples of how customers can make a brand. Conversely, a big brand such as AOL was killed because customers were ultimately dissatisfied with its service.
- Understand that the customers determine what products and services make it! The fact is it’s not you or your suppliers who will determine what products or services are successful. It’s ultimately the customers. Kodak, for example, is an iconic name Jaiswal cites: “Consider the case of Kodak, an iconic company that did not react in time to the changes in the market. Although a great organization, Kodak had to shut the doors on many of its business units because it didn’t keep pace with its customers’ changing demands.”
Overall, then, if past success for dealerships was primarily product-driven, and it was, it is a new day. Not long ago, we did not read or hear any business term like “managing the customer experience.” But today, selling boats and growing a dealership requires a reputation for giving a great customer experience, which starts at the very first encounter. Then it’s about striving to maintain an ongoing personal relationship with “the king.”