Dealership managers worldwide are scratching their heads thinking: “I know I need to improve customer experience. Now how the hell do I do it?”
Luckily for them, customer experience transformations are not a one-man job. Au contraire: great customer experiences are the result of a company-wide effort. Not involving your employees can actually have grave consequences. According to Forbes Insights research, employee resistance to cultural change is “the biggest obstacle for improving CX.”
CX transformation leaders at automotive dealerships need to get every employee on board to optimize their chances of success. Traditionally, only frontline staff are sharply focused on customers and customer satisfaction metrics. But in customer-centric companies, customers are the main focus of every employee, from people working behind the scenes to those that deal directly with customers.
What do we mean by “empower”?
“Empower” is one of those ambiguous words that needs explanation. Matador defines empowered employees as people who:
Here are five ways that CX transformation leaders can empower every employee to reshape the auto retail customer experience for the digital age.
Contrary to traditional thinking, customer experience isn’t led by frontline employees. A customer experience transformation, like all change management initiatives, starts at the top with business leaders in the boardroom. C-level executives and managers must “walk the talk” by modelling desired behaviors, or guiding behavior change through example. In the words of David Adcock, executive vice president of Binary Auto Solutions, leaders are “role models, cultural ambassadors.”
Leaders of customer experience transformations must truly believe in the values that they preach and practice them. So, when customer-centricity is a core business value, managers should demonstrate behavior that puts customers at the front and center, like talking about customer satisfaction rather than sales revenue. Cultural values trickle down to employees. Employees will be more inclined to replicate their superior’s behavior than theoretical actions dictated by someone who doesn’t practice what they preach.
What does the term “good customer experience” mean to you? Serving customers quickly? If so, how quickly? Providing friendly service? What does “friendly” mean in practice? The point is, good customer experience means different things to different people. And that includes your employees. That’s why successful customer experience transformations begin with a vision that leaves no room for interpretation and can be understood by every person involved in the initiative.
We explained what we mean by CX vision in a blog post on the topic:
“A customer experience vision is a statement that outlines the impact a dealership aspires to have on its customers. It guides the whole company on how to behave when interacting with customers and how to make good decisions that are aligned with a higher purpose.”
A vision will not only guide all employees in the same direction, it can also help motivate them to get there. Leaders should focus on developing an aspirational vision that makes employees feel like they’re working toward something worthwhile.
While a clear vision is essential, it only gives the destination, not how to get there. That’s why it’s equally important to give employees clear guidance on achieving this ultimate goal. Jennifer MacIntosh, VP of Customer Success at Coveo, explains how CX transformation leaders should clearly communicate to employees actions they should take and behaviors they should model in their day-to-day jobs. These actions and behaviors should be based on previous good customer experiences.
Every employee has his or her own part to play in impacting your potential and current customers’ experience. So, leaders must define specific, relevant actions and behaviors for everybody, aligned with the CX you want to create. For example, you may ask a customer service employee to follow-up with new customers within a set timeframe. Or you may task an IT employee to collect customer data from your e-commerce website so you can better understand online customer behavior.
Transitioning a dealership from traditional business model to new customer-centric one requires huge systemic change. Employees need to change their behavior to become more customer-focused. They need to develop new knowledge and skills like learning new processes and new technology. People resist change, so they will need a lot of support along the way.
Employee training is an essential part of a CX transformation strategy. Leaders should offer regular and relevant training to employees to reinforce the company’s CX vision and values, and keep their skills up-to-date with what’s required to meet customers, whose needs are evolving all the time. The aim is to give your employees the tools they need to make autonomous decisions that are good for the customer and the company.
Countless training models and techniques are out there. Behavior modelling training (BMT) is one example. It involves showing actions, practicing and receiving feedback. Uses real scenarios and actions rather than theory. Research shows that BMT helps employees gain skills and change job behavior.
Your employees are overworked. They’ve never before had to handle such large volumes of data or work at such a fast pace to meet tight deadlines, and keep smiling all the while. In reality, employees can’t keep up with the pace of customer queries so customers wind up elsewhere and employees wind up demotivated.
We’re lucky to be living during a time where technology is sophisticated enough to remove some of the unnecessary pressure on our teams. Digital technology can automate many of the time-consuming tasks we normally pay employees for so they can spend more time making human connections with customers, which are valuable to your business. An article by Harvard Business Review says that emotionally connected customers are more valuable than happy customers, more loyal, and more likely to buy from you again.
But not all digital tech is made equal. To empower employees rather than hinder them, CX leaders must deploy digital tools that cater to their employees’ needs. Here at Matador, for instance, we developed a customer experience platform for automotive marketers struggling to reach and nurture today’s customers.
Empower your employees so they can power CX
Employees are the ones who will drive your dealership’s CX initiatives forward. They are perfectly positioned to interact with your customers, understand your customers, and provide feedback so you can continuously improve the customer’s experience.
But you can’t simply ask employees to put the customer first and expect miracles to happen. It’s down to managers to show their employees what good CX means, practical ways to improve CX, and give them access to the tools that make delivering great CX a whole lot easier.