Disney is beloved the world over and is recognized as a premiere family destination place. Whether you’re talking about the parks in Orlando, or California, people pay premium prices to be able to enjoy a little of the magic. But what makes Disney any different than the other amusement parks in the world? Many would say it’s Disney’s philosophy and training.
A recent article in Fast Company outlined the Seven Disney Service Guidelines:
- Make eye contact: – While a seemingly small thing, Disney is usually super busy. Being a person in this large moving body of people migrating from ride to ride can make someone feel very small and insignificant. By training employees to make eye contact with each and every guest they encounter, the employee is acknowledging their presence and personalizing their experience. It’s similar to saying, “You matter,” with a look.
- Greet and welcome every guest: – By making eye contact and then saying “Hello,” and welcoming them to the Park, people are made to feel special and important. A simple acknowledgement of their existence and singling out amidst this sea of humans is an act that people not only remember, but appreciate.
- Seek out guest contact: – Disney employees are not trained to be passive. They are taught to seek out guest contact, not to wait for a guest to initiate. They are actively in the crowd doing their job and, at the same time, looking for opportunities to interact with guests. I’m not talking about guests that “need” interaction (i.e.: Someone is having a bad experience that needs intervention). Disney employees are looking to interact with as many guests as possible. Their goal is simply to make someone’s day just a little happier.
- Provide immediate service recovery: – This is an integral part of the guidelines. The Disney parks are huge and accidents happen – whether its something as small as a child spilling their popcorn or a larger issue – so Disney has empowered its employees to use their judgment and take action immediately to fix the situation rather than force a guest to wait for a “manager” to appear.
- Always display appropriate body language: – Disney knows that body language is just as important as physical language. People naturally communicate through body language all the time. . It’s not only important to watch what they say and how they say it. An employee having a bad day (which everyone does) can easily transmit that through their body language without ever once complaining. You set the tone for the atmosphere in your business. Customers will mimic that tone even if it’s subconsciously.
- Create dreams and preserve the “magical guest experience”: – Anything within an employee’s power that can be done to enhance the guest experience is encouraged. Disney wants everyone’s trip to be memorable and magical and sometimes, it only takes a small thing to make that happen… a hug from a Princess, a “Happy Birthday” from an employee while in line, etc. Even the smallest gesture can be magnified when seen through the eyes of a child.
- Thank each and every guest: – As businesses, we certainly are appreciative of all of our customers but do they know it? This simple policy is designed to insure that every guest is acknowledged and thanked at some point in the day (if not multiple times) for choosing Disney. They don’t post people at the exits specifically to say this; they expect their employees to be doing this continuously all day long.
Disney has some great lessons and practices that can be applied to any business. They are making the adoption of these by other businesses easier through the sharing and teaching of non-Disney employees and business owners through their Disney University. Disney has such a loyal customer base because it has policies in place to make everyone feel special. They also empower their employees to take immediate action to rectify anything that could jeopardize a guest experience.
One thing I’d like to leave you with. If you ask Disney, they don’t have any “employees.” Their staff is called “Cast Members.” Why? Because they realize that the Park is their venue, the guests are their audience and they are always, always, on stage.
Dealerships are typically slow to embrace technology. In some cases, it’s for budgetary reasons and for others it’s out of a lack of a sense of need. A recent article in WardsAuto.com reinforced the need for dealerships to streamline their processes. The article explains how as car manufacturing improves and service intervals grow, the only way for a dealership to increase or maintain its current service revenue is through the ability to service more vehicles.
This is increasingly being done through the digitization of repair orders; more streamlined processes during the write-up involving iPads or mobile devices that contain all the customer’s service history at a glance. This is similar to systems that many hospitals have adopted.
WardsAuto.com advises that dealerships should “expect a different breed of car buyer who want a more hands-off, yet transparent, way to engage the dealership.” At the same time that manufacturers are creating onboard computers that will wirelessly relay vehicle data to the dealership, customers are adopting mobile device apps and expect businesses they patronize to as well.
Improving workflow between departments is key to increasing efficiency. At the same time, dealers don’t want to miss opportunities that they could have upselling a repair order. Just as dealerships have adopted CRMs to control sales processes, technology can be used in the same way. It can help to control service processes and ensure that shortcuts aren’t taken while writing repair orders. It can also ensure that the dealership successfully captures all revenue opportunities by correctly presenting them to the customer.
WardsAuto.com explains that many dealerships are embracing paper-free systems that allow them to decrease paper and storage fees as well as employee error, while also reducing warranty chargeback costs.
Service advisors of the future will need less expertise because all of the technical information will be at their fingertips. Qualities that make a good service advisor will change from auto technical knowledge to customer service and sales skills. Dealerships will always need human interaction, however. Most consumers don’t want to deal with push-button robots in the nature of gas-station car washes (press 1 for 85,000 mile service, etc.) What they want is more transparency and efficiency in the processes involved in getting their cars serviced.
Dealerships that adopt technology, streamline their processes and make a more pleasant customer-centric service experience will position themselves well to compete with the independent auto shops for the extra service business that they’ll need to acquire to maintain and grow fixed ops revenue for their stores.
What is your biggest asset? Is it your impressive floor plan, the lineup of new inventory you have on your lot or is it your employees, customers and service that matter most? In an industry where a significant amount of emphasis is still placed on units sold, I challenge you to rethink your approach to business. Customer service and brand management are your biggest assets and it is imperative that you dedicate attention there in order to be recognized as a great place to do business.
Without great customer service, whether it’s provided by your sales or service team, the receptionist or even your shuttle driver, your brand suffers. Consumers have lots of choice; and they have become extremely savvy as to who they engage in business with. So you need to provide an experience that is positively memorable and encourages them to share the experience with others, and come back for more. To quote Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, an industry leader of online shoe and clothing retail, “You need to deliver WOW through service“.
Service is the heart of any business. Getting people to make the initial purchase is one thing, sustaining the business takes work and dedication. And this work doesn’t have to be hard or tiresome. Try some simple acts of kindness, like greeting your customers at their vehicle when they roll in for service, offering a relaxed environment to stroll through your lot while shopping for their new vehicle. Or even making a point to be proactive and stay connected to your customers throughout the day via phone, text, email or personal websites, to give them a heads up on the progress of their vehicle service, can go a long way into “wowing” them.
Quality customer service should be at the forefront of your corporate values and mission statement. We can all learn a great deal from the experiences we have from businesses like Zappos. Zappos employees are encouraged to spend as much time as they need with their phones customers, make recommendations, and even direct them to a competitor’s website if they are out of inventory of the product that the customer really wants to buy. Sending a customer down the road is a very unsettling idea. However, offering to service that vehicle throughout the ownership lifecycle is a great opportunity to continue to earn the loyalty from that customer. Don’t just send them down the road empty handed. Offer them the same opportunities to participate in your loyalty programs, recognize them on their birthdays/anniversaries and continue to send your mail offers. Don’t lose the connection or the opportunity to provide great service. Transparency is a key element that can be pivotal in building your brand and customer loyalty.
To reinforce this customer first culture, regular quick-tip meetings with your entire staff is a good way to make sure everyone understands your mission and vision. Dedicating 10-to-15 minutes a day or week to go over your key customer service points is a method to ensure everyone understands the business culture and how to best service every customer or potential customer that walks through your doors. Fostering a positive environment can naturally be reflective in how your customers feel welcomed when they visit your dealership.
As a side note, if you ever come to Las Vegas (whether it’s for work or pleasure) and can pry yourself away from the intoxication of the ringing sounds from the slot machines, flashing lights and fascination of the elaborate casinos, I encourage you to drive to Henderson where Zappos is headquartered… which incidentally is just a few miles from MPi’s headquarter. Zappos offers tours to individuals and businesses to come and meet their dedicated team members, get a glimpse into their culture and offers free resources that you can take back to your office to create your own wow factor. Because MPi is so close in proximity to Zappos’s office, my staff has taken advantage of this opportunity on numerous occasions. Each time they visit, they return with great ideas about how we can foster a customer first approach to our business. And we’ve implemented them. MPi is known for the highest level of customer care in our market space as we work hard to live by our motto: “customers come first”.
Now is the time to get creative with your approach to service and put your customers first so they are customers for life.
Ninety percent (90%) of the car dealers we talk to over the phone, at trade shows, and in one-on-one meetings, have zero processes in place to buy or sell cars from the service drive. That means only 10% of car dealers are taking advantage and selling cars to those who should be in the market for a new car and are in the dealership right now.
And, those that are taking action and trying to sell from the service drive are achieving sales of only 0.5 percent of RO’s compared to our clients who are achieving 4% to 5% with a customer-focused approach. In fact, after the third month of implementation, Bulldog Kia – Bogart, GA had a 4.68% closing rate from the service drive. They had 427 RO’s and 20 sales in a 30 day period.
Now, I know many of you who are reading this blog post right now are still skeptical as you put sales and service in two completely different silos. And, as you’ve either never thought about your service drive as a vehicle to sell more cars or tried it and failed, let me share four service drive selling undisputed facts that only 10% of today’s car dealerships are taking advantage of.
Service Drive Selling Undisputed Fact #1: It’s the greatest, most cost-effective opportunity within your dealership right now to increase sales immediately and permanently
Dealerships are spending at least $400 per car sold on advertising – whether it’s direct mail, email campaigns and newspaper/TV/radio/magazine ads or 3rd party leads – to bring more people into their dealerships. Many dealerships are paying even more money for advertising as they are implementing social media marketing and mobile marketing campaigns on top of all their other marketing efforts. We know this because we manage client’s marketing campaigns through our Auto Point Division.
Yet, car dealerships with a service drive have customers coming in every day who:
- Have manufacturer’s warranties expiring and will want to experience maintenance savings
- Are paying interest rates that are too high
- Have equity in the car that can be used as a down payment on a new vehicle
You don’t have to worry about getting these people into the door – and spending extra money. They’re already in your dealership. They just need a customer service representative to review their needs and let them know about their options.
Service Drive Selling Undisputed Fact #2: It’s the most effective way to prevent your competition from stealing your customers
If you don’t have a service drive conversion process in place, you have no way to tell whether or not the service drive customers (that are already inside your dealership) are or should be in the market for a new car.
So your customers are leaving the store and they’re exposed to advertising from your competitors constantly. Now, as the customers are already in your store, if you took the opportunity to reach out and speak to them about their needs you can capture people in the market before your competitors.
Service Drive Selling Undisputed Fact #3: If done correctly there is no better way to increase both your customer service and service satisfaction indexes
Many car dealers are afraid to try to sell cars from their service drive as they’ve tried to place a traditional salesman in the service department and it failed miserably. Instead of selling more cars, customers became turned off with their service experience. It’s because they approached selling cars from the service drive the same way they would in the showroom.
Instead, you have to make it about improving the customer experience. You want it to be about quality assurance – where you are making sure that their service needs are met. And, while you review their needs (and their information), you let them know about their options and how they can save money in the long run. Our clients are not only experiencing 20-25 more cars sold per month out of their service drive, but they are also experiencing increases in both their CSI and SSI.
As a Quality Assurance Representative at one of our customers in Canada told us recently; “Exclusively selling cars out of service was new for me. I am a closer and have always worked the front. I had to actually “calm myself down” and not “go in for the close” as fast as I normally would. These customers came in for Service, not to buy a car. Once I really focused on this I saw results.”
Service Drive Selling Undisputed Fact #4: Data mining tools miss 70% of the car selling opportunities from the service drive.
There are several data mining tools available in the market today. But that’s all they are – a tool. They don’t have any answers for the traditional selling approach. Plus, data mining tools can’t help car dealerships with customers that come in without an appointment.
That means dealerships miss out on 60-70% of the opportunities, as that is the typical percentage of people that come in for service without an appointment. You need a service drive selling process that allows your dealership to put customers through the sales process whether they have a scheduled appointment or not. Data mining is just a very small part of that overall process.
Interested in learning how you can sell more cars from the service drive?
Join us for a free webinar, where we’ll talk about industry trends and show you why now is the time to really focus on sales through the service drive. We’ll also share an example of a customer that has been converting 4-5% of their RO’s into new car sales for months.
Register for this free webinar now: Click HERE to register!
Customer: “Is my car ready?”
Advisor: “Let me check…. I’m not showing that its ready yet, ma’am.”
Customer: “Do you know when it will be?”
Advisor: “I’ll have to check with the technicians. We’ll be sure to call you when it is, however. It should be done by the end of the day.”
Is this a conversation your service advisors or cashiers are having with customers? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have this conversation instead?
Customer: “Is my car ready?”
Advisor: “Hi Mrs. Smith, the oil change has been completed. The tech saw that the fluids were low in a couple of areas so he went ahead and topped them off. Your car is in the service bay currently getting the tires rotated and balanced. ETA on completion is about 30 minutes. Is there anything else I can answer for you?”
Not only would a customer be impressed, it would probably save your employee from having that same conversation with the same customer 3 hours later. Not to mention the time it would take them to track down and get the information from the various people involved to deliver it to the customer.
In today’s world filled with instant access to order statuses, tracking numbers and information, consumers are now used to getting immediate answers. With all the available technology at our disposal, and with that technology decreasing in price while becoming more powerful than ever, there’s no reason why a dealership can’t implement a similar tracking feature into their operations.
Having a system like this in place not only puts the power of information at your disposal for the purposes of customer service; it makes your operations more efficient. Gone are the days of the service advisor having to track down the tech to find out what’s going on with the customer’s vehicle. The tech doesn’t have to go to the parts counter to request parts for an RO, and the parts counter no longer has to track down the tech to deliver the parts.
Even at the most basic level, a system like this is worth its weight in gold. Of course, MPi takes this philosophy and multiplies it by a hundred but whether you go with a full-featured system like ours, or implement one of your own, the fact remains that customers want information. The more effort it takes to get them that information, the less time that service advisor has to write new ROs or upsell existing ROs on recommended repairs.
Businesses across the world are embracing and integrating technology into their operations to increase both efficiency and customer service. It’s time for your dealership to embrace technology and use it to create a more efficient and customer-friendly operation.
In today’s world, there are many standout companies when it comes to customer service; Zappos and Nordstrom being a couple of examples. These companies focus on providing their customers with world-class service and, because of that, people are willing to pay more while maintaining fierce loyalty. Not only do these companies earn the loyalty of their customers through the service experience, they transform many of them into brand advocates. The reason their customers patronize them and recognize this level of customer service is that it is, unfortunately, not the norm in today’s world.
Zappos and Nordstrom are not in business to lose money. In fact, both companies profit through their reputations of providing great customer service that, in turn, increase their customer base by attracting new customers eager to share in the experience.
The Olive Garden restaurant recently sympathized with a patron whose parent’s house had just burned down and decided to comp the party’s entire meal. The patron posted a photo of the comp’d receipt to the Internet in an effort to thank and show appreciation for the Olive Garden’s good deed. Because people aren’t used to acts of kindness and service from companies, many were skeptical and questioned the receipt as a PR stunt even after the patron posted links to news articles reporting the house fire and the Olive Garden’s PR agency denying their involvement. The photo quickly went viral and has not only spread through social media but has also been picked up by prominent news agencies like Yahoo!, The Huffington Post and the Consumerist.
By providing an exceptional customer service experience; your customers will become loyal and share their experiences with others. Even though people may begin with skepticism, by providing a consistent experience of excellent service, word will spread and customers will not only go out of their way to patronize your dealership but also to encourage others to do so.
Through technology, we’re more capable than ever to provide this experience to our customers in an easier, more efficient manner that will lead to increased revenue, loyalty, customer retention and consistently excellent CSI scores while allowing you to maintain an acceptable profit on your services.