Executives are well aware of the importance of customer service. In a recent report from Oracle, 97 percent of respondents agreed that delivering a great customer experience is critical to business advantage and results.
And yet, the study finds that same group underestimating the risk of failing to do so. In fact, the general sentiment seemed to be that only luxury brands are equipped to provide great service.
One missing ingredient is the attention they pay to the “little things” – small touches that make the customer experience more personal and pleasant. In short, once the basics are addressed – whether it’s a clean room or competent auto service – the smaller touches are competitive differentiators. Certainly, customers notice them.
Customers Call, But Are You Helping Them?
In that context, tiny details such as connecting customers with the relevant staffer at your business in a timely manner really do matter.
A recent study by Marchex found 45 percent of all calls to auto dealerships come from prospective new customers. Of the calls from new customers, 54 percent want to inquire about new cars and/or get a price quote. That’s great, right?
Unfortunately, the study also found 20 percent of those calls go unanswered, in part because the dealerships lack the ability to quickly connect the prospective customer with a sales representative who can help them. Untold sales are lost in the fumbled process, and in businesses with razor-thin margins, that can be the difference between success and failure – all because of a little thing.
How One Dealership Solved the Problem
Doug Berryhill, chief executive officer of Eskridge Lexus in the Oklahoma City area, says his dealerships adopted Long Range Systems’ NetPage Unlimited (NPU) automotive on-site paging solution with an eye on these “lost opportunities,” among other reasons.
Its relationship with LRS began when the dealership went looking for a way to summon employees to a call or to the front desk or the manager’s office without disturbing customers in the showroom, Berryhill explains.
“We are a luxury auto dealership, and we wanted to deliver a stellar experience that would befit our brand,” he says.
A tranquil showroom free of loudspeaker messages is one of the “little things” Berryhill acknowledges will never deliver an easily measured return on investment. Nonetheless, he now sees NPU as essential to the dealership’s customer experience and brand.
“Whether or not customers actively register these announcements, they are at some level impacting the dealership ambiance,” Berryhill says. “They are irritating, and we want the experience at Eskridge Lexus to be as enjoyable and fun as possible.”
How NPU Works at Eskridge
At Eskridge, a receptionist centrally mans the NPU system. More than two dozen people in the organization are equipped with pagers, and the receptionist is able to quickly – and quietly – reach any or all of them. Typically, that means paging sales, finance or delivery specialists to the front desk for unexpected walk-ins. The system also pages any employee with a cell-phone, making discreet, instant communication almost limitless.
“The bottom line is, we want a way to summon our employees to come to the customer – whether that customer is on the phone or at the front desk – in a quiet and unobtrusive manner. This system is perfect for that,” he adds.
Berryhill also has access to the on-site system via the secure, web-based interface, and he finds it invaluable. The dealership has programmed in several messages – “Come to Berryhill’s office now,” for example – that make it easy to use on the fly.
From Cold Call to Gold Call
The system brings the most value to the dealership with cold calls, Berryhill says.
“Let’s say a call comes in and it sounds like a prospective sale,” he says. “We can send out mass pages to the appropriate sales staff to pick up the call. That way, the call is answered as quickly as possible.”
The system has the added advantage of being quick – pages are sent and received within seconds, Berryhill says.
Seconds versus minutes doesn’t always make a difference in sales situations, but the overall effect of speedy responsiveness does — and from that perspective on-site paging is invaluable, Berryhill says.
It’s one of the “little things” that separate so-so businesses from great ones.
Skip Cass is the chief executive officer at LRS and an expert in operational efficiency and creating a memorable guest experience.