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THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE IS YOUR “MOMENT OF VALIDATION!”

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Rest assured, every dealer can provide the lowest price, highest trade in and even the lowest payment.

What separates the best from the rest, however, is how they deliver the customer experience.

The customer experience starts at the first click and follows the customer all the way to the showroom and back home again for the ownership cycle.

It’s the where, when and how you deliver it during the online and offline automotive shopping process that will provide the moment of validation for car buyers.

Google identified the Zero Moment of Truth, which we all recognize as the all-important point when a vehicle shopper first responds to a stimulus to engage with a product online.

This “game on” moment occurs once the customer starts to click, and how your dealership shows up next determines whether you ultimately have an opportunity to deliver your customer experience.

If you win the zero moments of truth and get the chance to deliver your experience take every opportunity to win the moment of validation.

Your moment of validation, when you demonstrate whether you care and can be trusted—is the customer experience. It can start in a number of different ways.

With the Internet, it typically starts as a request from your website or landing page but it can also start as a third party lead, an inbound call from an online classified ad, or even a walk-in.

In any case, your preparation, planning and dealership-wide coordination on how you deliver your customer experience will define your moment of validation.

I have found that the greatest car salespeople deliver the greatest customer experiences. My father used to tell me when I was selling cars that the customer can read you instantly and you had better deliver the best experience from the moment the customer sees you.

Before the Internet, this meant things like not wearing sunglasses while you walked up to the customer or not hanging out in front of the dealership and putting out a cigarette just before you shake the approaching customer’s hand.

As a dealership sales manager I coached on these subtleties everyday, and not surprisingly, they made a big difference in how our sales team members were received by our customers.

Your team needs coaching on this when it comes to delivering the electronic version of the customer experience in responding to Internet inquiries, chats or telephone calls.

Remembering that the vehicle sale is typically won or lost during this crucial moment of validation, will provide you the validity you need to have your team’s attention as you coach on the best approaches. The preparation, planning and dealership wide coordination referred to earlier is how you ensure your win.

Let’s talk preparation. We’ve worked with clients to create dealership specific lead source response guides that explain in detail how and why automotive shoppers use a variety of different websites to shop for vehicles, and how you should respond.

This extra effort in preparation makes all the difference in your results. Your team must understand what the stimulus was by source that motivated a customer to fill out a form, start a chat or pick up the phone and call. Couple this orientation with electronic field trips where you demonstrate to your team in a live environment how a lead becomes a lead.

A few clicks on the websites where you receive your leads will give you insight you can greatly benefit from when you think like your prospects.

A customer that shops and generates a lead on a third party site is considerably different than one that shops and submits a request on your dealership website. A Canadian Black Book lead is quite different from an AutoTrader.ca lead and a dealership website lead.

Your team’s understanding that every lead is different is a critical first step in delivering on an exceptional customer experience. You likely understand that the experience depends on the expectations.

If a website has provided orientation that my experience will be one thing and the delivery of the experience is actually quite different, then the moment of validation is lost.

By showing your team what the expectations are after an automotive shopper visits a site and submits a request, you can convince them why the experience must match the expectations.

By providing your team a broad base orientation with a lead source response guide you will have the foundation to take it to the next level.

We recommend a two to five minute pause when your dealership team member receives an Internet request to work through a “pre-contact checklist” so you can prepare for a quality phone call or email.

The pre-contact checklist affords your team member the opportunity to think through what was going on in the mind of the prospect.

You don’t have this advantage with live chat or inbound calls so be sure you work aggressively to prepare your team with how to respond to those “instant response required” activities.

Back to the checklist…the checklist is a simple list of questions you can ask yourself about the lead:
1. Where did the lead come from? This matters because every site provides a different experience and defines a unique customer expectation. In time and with proper coaching your team members will be able to quickly assess the source and know the expectations.
2. Do you know the customer? This matters because loyal customers deserve gratitude and new customers deserve extra attention. A quick check of the history in the Customer Relationship Management tool will provide all the background you need to deliver the proper experience based on whether they’ve done business with your dealership or they are a new prospect.
3. What are they looking for? This depends on the source of the lead and will make a huge difference in how to respond. If the request came from your website on a VIN specific vehicle, the response will be different than if it came from a third party lead with the expectations of the lowest possible price.
4. Can you answer their questions? The typical question is the price, and how your dealership responds right off the bat can separate you dramatically from your competitors. However, we often miss the real questions because we think only of the price response. Be careful and strive to answer the real questions.
5. What objections should you plan for?

That’s easy—all of them. By being ready to respond to all the objections you can prepare your team to remove as many as possible with the right script. The book “Spin Selling” by Neil Rackham convinced me that building a Value Stack and making your product so valuable before you give the price is the best of all approaches. Pick up the book if you get a chance, I think you’ll enjoy it as a sales professional. By addressing all the key objections before hand you typically earn the answer you wanted from the prospect.

Consider creating your own pre-contact checklist for your dealership team and help them build the confidence to prepare for their daily “moments of validation” which will ensure they always exceed customer expectations. That’s the way to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

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