Are you Married? If so, have you ever been in a fight with your spouse? When you fight what are some of the biggest complaints? When I ask my auto dealer partners this question, they say, "My wife says I don't listen!" "You’re not hearing me..." or the dreaded, "You’re not understanding me!" What if you stopped listening even more?... What would happen to your relationship if you only heard what your significant other said, 60% of the time? Let’s take it even further, what if the 60% of the time you responded, it took you over an hour to respond? My thoughts are, she would quickly own half your dealership once those divorce papers were finalized!
Most would agree, that type of poor, slow communication wouldn't make your spouse very happy and is unacceptable.
Let’s translate these thoughts to the car business and how your CRM should work for you to create “engagement” from your buyers.
Marriam Webster Dictionary defines engagement as such. I have bolded and underlined what’s pertinent for this blog post within the definition.
Definition of Engagement
- 1a : an arrangement to meet or be present at a specified time and place a dinner engagement : a job or period of employment especially as a performer
- 2 : something that engages : pledge
- 3a : the act of engaging : the state of being engaged : emotional involvement or commitment
A successful dealership is a happy betrothal! One between your dealership and your car buyers, the problem is, you can't hear your buyers! Can they hear you? Absolutely.
Before you meet them, they hear you. I travel around the country, and every time I turn on that radio, all I hear is a gong sound and one of us yelling at them! We yell about our rebates, our 0% financing, our push pull or tow trade allowance... when I open Facebook, I scroll down two inches, I see 3 car ads!
When they ask us out on a date, also known as sending in an internet lead, calling our dealership, or stopping by to say hello, we don’t hear or listen to them. We see a customer name in our CRM, the car they are on, and we don’t take the time to read what they are saying… we respond with a generic “template” that is not relevant to the online conversation. They ask a question about price, availability, rebates and incentives or trade in, we try to ignore it: and tell them to come in for an appointment instead.
After our first date, they leave our showroom floor, we do extremely little if any follow up. You let your sales person, who’s ego is damaged from not selling them a car, label them a “tire kicker” or “stroke”. If they do reach back out to us, we may read it, we may not, and if we do read it, 35% of the time it takes us well over an hour to respond… Then are we saying the right response to the question or comment? We don’t know, because dealer management can’t see what we’re saying back to them! Why not? Because it’s on your sales persons text message inbox, on your sales persons cell phone, your sales persons email address, your sales persons Facebook messenger or any other channel of communication that you can’t hear, see or read!
Even if its stored somewhere in your CRM, you don’t have the time to dig into each customers database to figure out what the hell is going on. No one does, and todays CRMs are built by accountants for car guys… For your information, the two are like oil and vinegar.
As you can see, the communication we give to our business spouse, who are all our buyers and the people who make our business possible, is a one-way street... Can you hear them? NO, and as a result, they are divorcing you every, single, day.
What channels do customers communicate with the dealer?
They call, we put them on hold, transfer them twice... don't pick up and they need to call back again and again to talk to someone!
They email in, and your sales people start emailing from their personal email address, or worst... templates that don't answer their questions! That's the equivalent of your spouse asking you, what do you want for dinner? And you answering with, New Zealand. How frustrating!
They text in and ask, “Is this car available and what’s the best price?” and we take two hours to respond. What if your spouse sent you a text at 3 PM asking to pick up the kids at 5 PM and you don’t respond until 5:30 PM. That would go over well, wouldn’t it?
After a customer is gone and we find out the hard way from our sales person, we angrily ask, "What happened to the deal?!" They tell us, "Those strokes we're just kicking tires!". What we didn’t find out, was that the customer wanted more for their trade in, and your sales person told them to sell it on Craigslist! Did the customer go sell it on Craigslist? No because the dealer down the street gave them 200 more than you! They bought a car there! Measuring an average over the past 6 months from over 100 roof tops, responses to questions like these are continually being sent out in over an hour response time. Managers have no clue these conversations are even taking place.
If we are lucky enough to sell someone a car, after they leave, we don’t listen to their feedback. They “roast” us on a survey, as a way of paying us back. By the time this has happened, you’re already divorced. They won’t be back to buy another car from your dealership. Being roasted on a survey is the point at which you have been served divorce papers, your bags are sitting in your front lawn, and your spouse has already been awarded custody of the kids! Your sales person tells you at this point, “No matter what they would have roasted us, they were mooches.”
Currently, you are forced to take your sales people's word for everything. Why? With everything your managers must do, they don't have the time nor energy to look at every text message on every sales person’s phone from every customer, open every email in every inbox, and pull up the back-end tool of your website to listen to every call.
We cannot continue to handle engagement in this way or all those “disruptors” everyone in the car business fears, will steal our spouse! Because all the communication we just discussed is spread out across so many channels, devices, and people, that you can't hear what your customers are telling you... we're not listening to our dealerships significant other, the customer, and as a result SHE resents us! We are creating the very thing we want to avoid.
[blockquote-left]First, we need to discuss the levels of communication.[/blockquote-left]First, we need to discuss the levels of communication.It goes like this: Can you hear me? Are you listening to me? Do you understand what I am saying? Do you agree with what I’m saying? Can you and will you do what we discussed? What is the action taken that makes sense for both parties? Only upon action are we reaching the highest form of communication.
Immediately, we need to consolidate all communication into one easy to read location. One spot that is easy for a manager to read and monitor. Only by simplifying all the complex forms of communication into one spot can we ensure that we actually “hear” our customers. When they raise their hand on our virtual lot, aka an internet lead, we now see them! Our sales people can no longer get away with saying the wrong things and us not hearing it!
We look at and review the channel at which customers are communicating. We then follow up how THEY want to be followed up with. It’s like when your wife says, “Text me, I will be in a meeting.” You don’t try calling, do you? Now we connect through, and follow up with our customers on the channel that THEY want to be communicated.
Next, we monitor the speed at which we reply to a message. We must show our customers we are listening and understand them, ensure we agree and help the customer take action.
Finally, after we have sold them a car, we need to ensure our relationship is a long-term relationship. We need to conduct internal surveys to check the pulse of the relationship long before our bags are packed, sitting in the front lawn, and the locks to our house are changed.
We need to hear our customers, listen to what they want, and respond accordingly! We need to show our business spouse each day that we hear, listen, understand, agree, and will do anything to keep them happy!
Let’s rebuild our relationships through powerful yet simple communication. Let’s start giving customers the relationship and experience with our dealership they want and deserve!