The other day I went to replace my iPhone. I like going directly to the source, so I went to my local Apple store. As I exited the car and approached the store, I noticed several of the employees out front smoking. They did not acknowledge me, and let me walk right past them. I thought it was odd, but shrugged it off. I entered the store, and walked over to the newest iPhone they had. Looked good, but I had some questions. I looked around the store, saw two employees, and waved at them for some assistance. They seemed to finish their conversation, then casually one came over to assist me.
“Can you tell me the difference between these two models?” “Sure, that one is black, that one is gold,” he said sarcastically. “OK, how much is the 5s 64 gig?” I retorted. “Absolutely,” the kid chimed back. “Just let me get your initials here that if numbers and figures are agreeable that you will be purchasing this phone today. Also, I need you to fill out this application, so we can get you the best rates for your phone.” This was weird. “I am paying cash for my phone!” I was getting aggravated. Just then a manager came from the back, tapped the kid on the shoulder, and he stepped up to engage me. “Sir, I would love to give you all the information you need to make a purchase. But before we ever give pricing, we always want to make sure that the customer is ready to buy.”
Seem unbelievable? Do you believe that scenario could ever happen at an Apple Store? Now ask if it could happen at yours, or maybe DOES happen at yours. We throw around terms in this industry like “Customer Experience” as if by merely saying it, or printing it on some Dealership collateral, it makes it so.
I always worked to try and sell the right car, to the right consumer every time. That had more to do with listening as a salesperson, manager, finance manager or (insert position here) than it did having my hit list of cars that were aged. If we can incorporate our technology acquisitions and our training to make each consumer’s experience a pleasurable but unique experience, we are on our way. Our dealers, well they utilize a pre-screen process to ensure that the customer with the 608 Score doesn’t fall in love with that $58,000.00 vehicle. They tend to lead that consumer to vehicles that are more fitting of his/her budget, than just the initial dreamer’s drive of that car they can never get approved on. Thus, these customers are spending on average 3 hours less in the showroom and the lot. The customer leaves with the satisfaction of knowing that they were given several options, and never were they pressured into a car that they “had” to purchase. It is all in the presentation. Maybe it’s all in the pre-screen, real time of course. Either way they are selling the right car, to the right customer, every single time.
I have news for all of us. These experiences are unique and special to each of us as a consumer, good or bad. The difference between companies like Apple, Disney, the Ritz Carlton and ours, are that they empower their employees to make the experience unique. We give an oil change coupon.
So the next time you set out to change the culture, or the experience at your dealership, ask yourself that hard question…. Would I buy a car from me?