Harvard Business Review On Point republished a great paper on customer service by Chase and Dasu that uses behavioral science to explain how people perceive service. The paper is chock full of goodness on how to make customers feel better about a companies service. The perception of a company’s service is created by the customer, meaning that it’s possible to deliver great service but still have the customer come away feeling unhappy.
The article highlights the follow ideas about service:
• Chronology of events is important; people enjoy an experience more that gets better quickly and ends on a high note. If the last interaction a customer has with your company is negative, the customer will remember it.
• Customers enjoy an experience more if the good events are spaced over time.
• People are more aware of the passage of time if they are not mentally engaged. If a customer has to wait they give them something to do.
This applies direct to car sales, and even other interactions in the car industry (coincidentally timed with Dealerrefresh’s post about customer service). For car sales, identify your company’s sales process, negative customer experience and pleasurable experiences. Customers start making judgments about your dealership, and their experience, the moment the make contact with your dealership. And, as Seth Godin points out from an old post, first impressions matter, and last.
Diagram out the sales process and see if it’s possible to lump together negative experiences: trade valuation, finance negotiating, and car sales price as well as make those segments go faster. During those processes don’t have the customer wait out in a lounge for thirty minutes alone, engage them.
Identify what makes customers happy and intersperse those events through the sales process. Perhaps your dealership offers five great things that all customers want and enjoy, don’t say all five at once, deliver the great news during the sales process.
Finally, make sure that the last interaction is a positive one. At the end of the deal both the sales person and the customer may be tired, both people may become a little cranky, and neither party puts as much effort into the interaction as when it started. Resist the urge to end on a whimper, follow through and close on a bang.