The automotive industry is as much about the people you serve as it is about the cars and technology you sell. Whether you are a dealer or a technology provider, your end goal is the same: Deliver the best customer experience possible to build a loyal client base. You will know you’ve become a client-centric business when you see increased profitability, lower customer churn, and higher customer satisfaction scores.
But how do you improve these metrics and become a customer-experience powerhouse? You start by empowering your people.
According to Blake Morgan, author of “More is More” (Amazon, 2017), “Studies show that empowered employees are more satisfied with their jobs, and it’s one of the biggest factors in creating a great customer experience.” When you hire talented people that you trust, arm them with the tools they need to succeed, and give them the autonomy to make decisions on their own, customers will be met with a more efficient and streamlined experience.
To empower employees and, as a result, successfully meet the needs of your customers, follow these three steps:
1. Hire the Right People.
It all starts with hiring the right talent. When your workforce is made up of individuals whom you can trust and that you know have the necessary skills to fix customer problems and concerns, you will be more apt to hand them the reins come decisionmaking time.
However, to foster a culture of success, it is also integral that you evaluate your talent pool with your organization’s mission, vision, and values in mind. When your employees are aligned with your company’s principles, they will be better equipped do their jobs in a way that fits in with your dealership’s larger mission.
Here are two great examples of leading organizations that have built cultures around empowering their people in today’s marketplace:
• Zappos: The nation’s No. 1 shoe retailer has taken a unique approach to hiring. They look for a cultural fit first and foremost. If the cultural fit is not there, the candidate is not invited back to meet the hiring manager or other employees. Zappos staff are said to be constantly encouraged to do what they feel is necessary to meet the needs of the customer, including offering free exchanges, sending gifts to customers, and expediting shipping.
• Southwest Airlines: When Southwest says it puts people first, it’s talking about both its customers and its employees. The airline empowers its employees to make important decisions and use their judgment to go the extra mile and do what’s in the best interest of the customer.
2. Equip Your Employees With the Right Tools.
If you begin and end with hiring the right people, you won’t see much turnover. It is also crucial that you arm your employees with the tools they need to do their jobs effectively, efficiently, and confidently.
With the ever-evolving environment of the automotive industry, it is important that you pick the right technology solutions for your business and invest in long-term support and ongoing training to maximize the tools.
Your technology solutions should also be easy to understand, teach, and use. They should not have to dictate your hiring and retention practices, but rather enable you to make the right decisions that are best for your business. Find the right partners tied to your technology solutions that will invest in your success and ensure that you and your team are getting the most out of the system.
Investing in your technology is also an investment in your employees. With the right tools and partners in place, you set your employees up to offer a more efficient and customized experience that they can confidently deliver without constant monitoring from managers.
3. Give Your Employees the Autonomy to Make Decisions.
Empower your people to go and make decisions without always having to ask first. Ritz-Carlton, for example, gives frontline employees the authority to improve the customer experience on a moment’s notice. Employees are allowed to spend up to $2,000 per situation to solve a customer’s problem without having to get approval from a manager first.
Don’t let internal processes slow down the customer experience. They should empower it and propel it forward. Enable your employees to reinvent the process and challenge the status quo. Trust that they will make decisions that benefit the customer. Efficiency is at the core of this business, and ensuring that your internal processes fit with this model is key to profitability.
It’s time to stop reading from the script and foster a staff force that is empowered to make the right decisions for the customer and your business without getting caught up in long, internal approval processes. Whether a dealership or technology provider, identifying the right talent, equipping your staff with the tools they need, and giving them the autonomy to make their own decisions will enable a more human-centric experience that all parties will benefit from.
Candy Lucey is senior director of marketing for dealer management systems at Dealertrack.