You know what you provide to your customers – focus on how you provide it.
Dealerships that prioritize the customer experience see benefits ranging from lower churn rate, reduced cost of sales and marketing, and better overall engagement, all leading to a stronger bottom line. There are many ways to improve customer experience, but one of the most cost-effective and easiest ways is through the incorporation of user-friendly digital technology. Incorporating digital solutions into your dealership is part and parcel to improving the customer experience. Whether you are engaging with a lifelong customer or courting a new customer, focusing on the customer experience is key to your success.
Creating a high-performing customer experience is an intentional and ongoing process, but it has to start somewhere. The following helps take you through some of the fundamental pieces of building a great customer experience.
Understanding the current state of your customer service
The best place to start might also be the hardest: by looking into the mirror and doing an internal audit. This process needs to take an open and honest approach to understanding where you are and determining how to get where you want to be.
- Locate the gaps in your customer knowledge base. What questions do you repeatedly hear from customers? Once you better understand those knowledge gaps, you can begin to craft a proactive plan to address questions before they have to be verbalized. Create new tools that help fill your customers’ knowledge gaps and position yourself as your customers’ knowledge resource.
- Understand how your dealership differentiates. What makes your dealership unique and keeps your customers returning? What is it that makes your customers choose you over your competitors? Is it your products? Location? Pricing? People? It is almost impossible for a dealership to excel in all of these areas, so recognize what it is that makes you unique, accentuate those attributes, and ensure your strategy allows you to continue to leverage them to your advantage. For example, if your primary differentiator is premier customer service, you must ensure your HR strategy (i.e. hiring plan, resource allocation, retention, etc.) reflects this as a priority.
- Identify internal communication constraints. One of the largest issues agriculture dealerships face is fragmented internal communication resulting in disconnected teams. Subject matter experts at dealerships often have a wide breadth of knowledge across varying topics, but it can be difficult to disperse it across a large territory and volume of customers. Quickly being able to connect the right internal person with the right customer for the right situation makes for a more efficient and effective experience both for the customer and your employees.
- Implement training. Delivering a consistent and positive experience for your customers keeps them coming back. Formal and consistent training keeps your sales and support teams on the same page and helps improve internal communication and collaboration. This training becomes evident to customers as they begin to see consistency in their experience as they know what to expect regardless of the situation.
Understanding the current state of your customers
Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” With high customer demands and a focus on growth, it is easy to forget to stop and watch. The simple observation of customers and their activities can dramatically help you improve their experience.
- Know who your customers turn to first. If you are not the first resort for issue resolution, it is time to evaluate why. Perhaps it was a previous poor experience or maybe they do not know that you have improved your service offering(s) since you last engaged. Regardless of the reason, once you understand the “who” your customers turn to, it is time to determine the “why.”
- Get feedback from customers. A customer’s perception is their reality, and because of that, your brand may not be what you think it is. No matter what your website or your brochures say, the perception of your brand is most likely determined from the conversations farmers are having over coffee at the local diner or in the field. To help better guide that message, understand how your customers perceive your brand and then make adjustments to help control the messaging.
- Learn what successful dealerships do well. What are other dealerships doing that differentiate them from the rest? How do they appeal to their customers? What sort of customer experience do they offer? The goal is not to become exactly like those dealers, but instead find those trends or key points that you can incorporate into your dealership to improve your customer experience.
Learn to effectively communicate your value
If you are waiting for customers to learn about your value when they come through your doors, you have waited too long. A clear and appealing message is essential in attracting customers to you. The message, like your value, needs to be unique from your competition and needs to align with a customer’s needs.
- Talk benefits, not features. Customers want to know your solutions not your widgets. While it is important to convey to customers how a problem will be solved, it is important to let the customers know their problem can be solved. When talking benefits, be careful not to sound too generic or just like your competition. Ultimately, customers are more interested in knowing that you can solve their problem, not how you solve their problem.
- Make the value of your service known. Price matters. So does value. You know the value of the service you provide but the customer may not. Do not be afraid to talk price to your customers but make sure they know the value they receive. Equating the dollars they spend to time or cost savings helps clearly lay out the value. The less you share about your value, the less control you have of the message.
- Use technologies as part of your value proposition. A new era of farming is here. The new generation of farmers is helping drive technologies into their decision making with the current farmers quickly adapting to keep up with evolving market. Today’s farmer is much more tech savvy with their smartphones in hand and have raised their expectations for providers to only be a tap away when they need service. The use of technology should be seen as a way to enable the customer experience and not inhibit it. When dealerships leverage new technologies, they will begin to see changes in how they engage with customers and prospects and will be able to make greater impacts on the bottom-line.
The customer experience is an ongoing evolution that today’s dealerships must focus on to stay relevant and differentiated from their competition. It is time to expand beyond “what” you provide and also “how” you provide it as well. Key to improving the customer experience is the incorporation of digital technologies.
Technologies like AgriSync help dealers improve the customer experience by streamlining the essential and dependent communication process between dealers and their customers. The platform is easy to install, learn, and use with your customers. Once in place, dealers instantly increase their ability to get the right person to the right customer at the right time. This provides a drastically improved customer experience and value. The best part? It also saves time and money for both the dealer and their customer.
Take advantage of the SPECIAL OFFER available only to WEDA members and learn how AgriSync can help deliver an exceptional customer experience by visiting www.agrisync.com/weda.
Article Written By Michael Kremer
MICHAEL KREMER is a marketing subject matter expert and is the former head of marketing for AgriSync. AgriSync is an endorsed technology partner of the Western Equipment Dealers Association.