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This is why I wrote a letter to the CEO of a major Automotive company recently……

You will not enjoy this letter!   In fact I believe it may be the worst letter you have received this year – so far!!!!!.  It may possibly make you annoyed and frustrated.    

The issue I want to highlight with you is my poor, poor customer experience.  And customer experience is different to customer service, which I will allude to at the end of the letter. 

The Issue:

Desperately desperately, poor Customer Experience received at (Dealership)

The Circumstances:

I am in the market for a new SUV.  

Over Christmas we were in Norway and drove 1500km in a hired (vehicle.)   I had never considered the (vehicle) until I drove it.    What a brilliant vehicle.   We need one of these we thought!

It stored with ease all our hiking equipment that we took with us, and used in Norway.

I was seriously impressed with the  vehicle.   So much so, that upon my return from Norway, I made an enquiry with (dealership), the day after I arrived home. 

I received a reply from ‘Salesperson 1’ – e-mail attached.   Excellent I thought.   I replied to his e-mail as to what I was desiring.   I didn’t hear back as to having a meeting on the 29th December. 

On the 29th December I sent another e-mail asking if we were on for a meeting that afternoon.  I received no reply. 

On the 30th, Janelle and I drove to (city) to look at the vehicle.  (I was definitely interested!)

We walked into the showroom.  There were about 4 – 5 staff members in the glass office. 

They looked at us. 

We looked at them!

We walked around.

We saw a gentleman come out from the glass office and thought (hoped) he may come and talk with ask and offer help. 

He walked past without saying a word.  I don’t know where he went.

We walked around the showroom some more. 

(Salesperson 2) came out and said hello and asked us how our Christmas was? 

I replied, and then asked him the same question.  I was stunned at Salesperson 2’s negative reply.   An interesting start to the sales conversation! 

The conversation lapsed. 

There was an awkward silence. 

I waited for Salesperson 2 to talk.

In the end I lead the conversation and let him know why we were there.

Further silence.  I was wondering what was happening.

I ascertained that Salesperson 2 had only been in the branch a few weeks.  He had previously come from working in a bank.  Probably in the bank they are not taught to sell.

It appeared that Salesperson 2 possibly had no real sales training whatsoever.

I asked him what sales training he had been given.  

You’d be amazed at his reply!

I felt very sorry for him, because he was out of his depth.

I have no issue if he didn’t know the full extent of the product.  That can be found out and rectified.

What surprised me was the lack of rapport building and finding out what we really needed and wanted, in our vehicle.

Salesperson 2 went away to find out more about the model I was after. 

Where the Sale was lost.

What he did next was tantamount to throwing the sale away. 

When he returned, he spoke only with me and didn’t engage with Janelle at all.

This I believe is basic sales, and I teach my clients that you ignore the female part of the equation ‘at your peril.’ 

They are the decision-makers. 

To exclude Janelle meant the sale was never going to happen from this point on!

Another thing that surprised me Salesperson 2 didn’t introduce himself or provide his name – until maybe 5 minutes into our conversation. 

Lifetime client value:

I spoke with Salesperson 2 just before we left and spoke about having ‘Clients for Life’ – not just this sale.  I ran some quick average numbers with him as to what our walking out of the dealership door meant in lost sales to him and the company over the next 20 years and possibly 7 further vehicles.

Salesperson 2 asked if I would like his card – to which I politely declined – and I didn’t leave mine either.

What could be done better!

Mine is a hot lead. 

I expected follow-up from my initial enquiry. 

None was received!

What if Salesperson 1 hadn’t received my e-mail?

Then I would have expected (and I train sales teams in this) to follow up, and follow up and follow up some more.  It’s that important in sales.  

80% of all sales are made on the 5th contact.    He had my phone number (which he asked for – well done) and my e-mail.

In fairness, we did not have an appointment when we came on the 30th.   However, for me personally it showed my intent to purchase.

Potentially Salesperson 2 needs sales training urgently.

He needs to be trained in rapport building and asking questions.

The right questions.

I wonder what may have happened had Salesperson 2 even messaged me that afternoon, (after we left – a follow up)maybe even just to say thanks for coming in.

It’s not the mistake that’s normally the issue  – it’s how it’s rectified. 

A follow-up, may possibly have brought me back to the table. 

It shows care, concern and compassion.

People don’t care what you know, until they know you care, is a saying I use often in my sales training environments

Sales is an Art

Lack of Customer experience seems prevalent in the motor industry.   

All it needs then is for a sales team to be ‘Contrarian’ compared to other vehicle sales teams.

To be unique and different,  could possibly mean sales would increase dramatically. 

Many people won’t talk to the ‘source’ about their bad experience, so the ‘source’ doesn’t have a chance to rectify the issue.   However, what they do, do: is tell their friends and family – the very people who will listen to gossip, but have no ability to fix the issue – except not purchase from that place – based on a non-recommendation.  Millions of pounds of sales are lost based on this strategy. 

The Difference:  Customer Service versus Customer Experience

As a business owner understanding the difference between Customer Experience and Customer Service is crucial.

 Customer Service is reactionary.  It is what you need to spend money on because your customers have a problem or they are unhappy.  And it’s the customers who aren’t happy who will utilise most of that resource through complaints etc.

Customer experience is proactive.  It’s about understanding what their journey and experience of interacting with you is like.  The closer you get to creating an optimal customer experience, the less you’ll need to spend on traditional customer service.

What would you do in the same circumstances?????

Please let me know in the comments.


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