Hotel chains across the country have long had problems with customer loyalty due to an inconsistent customer experience. In researching the problem it was found that the prime reason for the disparity in customer experience was due to the growth of each major brand. Hotel chains were acquiring new properties and, in many cases, simply slapping their corporate branding on the building to attract customers.
Despite the fact that each hotel within the chain shared the same name, the quality and amenities at each varied. Some were luxurious and offered all the amenities that a business traveler could want; and some were below the standards that their loyal customers had come to expect. In 2004, the hotel brand, Hyatt decided to tackle the problem and do something different.
Hyatt created the “Hyatt Place” addition to their brand offerings. Their strategy was to create a brand in which, no matter where it was located, a business traveler would have the exact same experience. Everything is exactly the same. The lobby has the same floor plan, the bar/eating area is in the same place, the fitness center is in the same place and offers the same equipment, and each and every room at all 160 locations is exactly the same. Business travelers fell in love almost immediately. They knew exactly what they would be getting no matter which location they stayed in. Hyatt Place has won 7 awards over the last 6 years, and recently became the highest-rated mid-priced hotel chain in the country.
Consistent customer experiences generate trust. Trust generates loyalty. Trust, however, is a fragile thing. It is hard to earn but easy to lose.
How does customer experience translate to loyalty in your dealership’s service department?
It starts with consistency. Your technicians inspect customer vehicles and recommend repairs to your advisors who advise your customers. How consistent are your recommendations? Do you know how to find out?
An exercise that I recommend to dealerships is as follows:
- Find a car that none of your service techs have ever looked at.
- Put it on a hoist and have each of your technicians independently (and by themselves) inspect the vehicle, just as they would a customer’s car, and record their observations and make their recommendations.
- After all of the techs have inspected the vehicle, compare the findings.
This is an actual example of the results of this exercise:
As you can see, the results are all over the place. Imagine if a customer visited the dealership and the advisor told them they needed service on both the left and right front brake linings. The customer declines on this occasion. On their next visit maybe they ask the service advisor about those brake linings. Based on the inspection from that visit, where a different tech does the inspection, the customer is told that the tech marked them as fine. This would certainly raise red flags to the customer. It could also destroy the trust that’s been built with them.
I challenge you to perform this exercise on a regular basis. It will help create a more consistent customer experience with each visit reinforcing the declined recommendations given previously. And it will also help point out errors to any techs that need additional training due to recommending unnecessary repairs and/or failing to see needed repairs. Set a consistency goal in relation to this exercise and, when it’s achieved, have a pizza party to reward your techs.
Customer experiences are of course important in all areas of your dealership. The service drive accounts for almost half your dealership’s revenue and sees more traffic in a day than your showroom may see in a week. Make your service experience one that builds trust in your customer and loyalty will follow.