An acquaintance of mine shared an experience with me that got me thinking. He traveled frequently and was a member of a particular hotel chain’s loyalty program. One particular stay at one of the chain’s locations was, in his opinion, beneath the quality that he had come to expect from the chain. There were multiple issues with the room – some involving cleanliness and even security. He had just driven 10 hours that day so he kept his mouth shut, ate and went to sleep. The next morning, after checkout, he decided to tweet about this experience in an effort to vent a little. He didn’t run around the Internet leaving negative reviews, just sent a single tweet. As he continued his drive towards his next destination, about an hour after that tweet was sent, he got a phone call. When he answered the phone, he was surprised to hear that the caller was the manager of the hotel he had stayed at the night before and tweeted about. Curious, he asked how they had managed to track him down. The manager explained that the corporate office saw the tweet, identified him, contacted the hotel and spoke to the manager. She then apologized for the sub-par experience he had and explained that she had reversed all charges for the room.
A lot of pieces had to fall into place for that to happen. Someone had to have been monitoring social media channels, identify a problem, track down the customer in their database, identify the reservation and location where the problem happened, contact the hotel itself and, ultimately, contact the customer. This wouldn’t have been possible in the past. But I can tell you that this not only impressed him enough to start telling people; it created an even more loyal customer than he had been before.
Dealerships use data in many ways –including records of sales processes, service repair orders, and marketing – but not many utilize this data to enhance their customer service experience. In this article by Experian, they explain how the “key to strong customer service is intimacy.” Data alone cannot provide this intimacy. Human interaction is needed to really be able to know the customer, communicate with them and gain insights into their wants and needs. Both need to exist, however.
Joe Weinman, a columnist for Forbes, explained in an article, “An intimate relationship is the exact opposite of an anonymous transaction. Rather than a standalone profitable transaction, such a relationship is oriented towards a win-win. Customer intimacy is a competitive strategy, corporate culture and organizational design – all rolled into one – supporting multiple such relationships.”
One of the largest profit centers of any dealership is their fixed operations, but this is also the most neglected when it comes to just about everything – from tracking customer transactions with technology to marketing to them with targeted, behavior specific offers designed to convert at much higher rates. It’s also typically the last part of a dealerships operations to see the introduction of new technologies designed to enhance the customer experience and provide a more efficient process.
The fact remains that this competitive strategy of customer intimacy necessitates the introduction of technology tools in all departments of your dealership. Dealerships need to be able to identify problems and take action based on instantaneously available data. Without this component, this strategy falls apart.
The future of business success, according to the Experian article, will rely on having a system in which “companies can bolster their personal knowledge with streamlined, real-time access to more information. This will empower them to make better business decisions than ever before.”
The next time that negative tweet, Facebook comment, or review appears online be prepared to WOW the customer with technology in place that provides all the components that you’ll need to do this. By having the ability to react in real-time with comprehensive data integrated with your personal interaction with the customer, you’ll create an environment that increases profits through increased retention and the creation of brand evangelists.