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One size fits none: why car makers need to take a personal approach to customer service

The retail experience is key to attracting and retaining customers

Automotive companies spend millions ensuring competitiveness by delivering innovative products on time and to the required quality and cost.

However, increasing competition in automotive markets means that car makers must work harder than ever to win the trust and loyalty of customers.Customer service in the dealer network is taking on new importance.

Customers at dealerships today are very different from their counterparts 10 or even five years ago. New channels to market, such as websites, mobile applications and social media, have shifted the balance of power towards customers, meaning that they demand more value from their interactions with dealers. As a result, the era of 'one size fits all' customer service is long gone.

Car makers must rethink their traditional approach to customer service in the dealer network and deliver a retail experience that customers feel is personal to them. As automotive companies fight for market share, how they treat their customers at the point of sale and service hold great potential for differentiation.

At PA we are helping a wide range of car makers to deliver an outstanding sales and service experience, including drawing on ideas from industries that deliver consistently excellent customer service. We have identified a number of factors that are necessary to achieve success:

Taking a holistic approach to customer service

It is not enough to focus solely on the ‘customer front line’. A culture of delivering customer service that goes beyond customer satisfaction needs to be embedded throughout the organisation, from the implementation plan across markets up to training programmes, communications plans and tools for use in recruitment and employee development. It is a challenge to achieve this across a complex global network of franchised dealerships, but the rewards outweigh the effort.

Attracting and developing the right people

If you can attract and retain people with the right personal qualities to deliver consistently excellent customer service and provide them with the support and tools they need to deliver a great, personalised customer experience, they will achieve exceptional results.Small details, such as entering a customer's home address into their new car's satnav or reapplying personalised seat and radio settings after servicing, can create a much more personal service experience.

Measuring and communicating the benefits

Once teams in the dealer network understand the benefits of providing customer service that goes beyond customer satisfaction, they will drive up performance and suggest ideas to support continuous improvement. Communicating the brand values and strategic direction is important, but to achieve a lasting transformation in the retail experience, car makers must make the messages compelling for each individual involved in delivering customer service. They can do this by answering the question: ‘what’s in it for me?’.

Having an integrated programme comprising the right elements

Changing customer service culture within the dealer network requires a rigorous but flexible implementation across national markets to take into account cultural differences and variations in consumer behavior. It is always a challenge and requires a comprehensive programme of work both to make it happen and, more importantly, to sustain it long term.

When key measures to track outcomes and benefits are integrated into regular business, there is a marked increase in customer satisfaction and, as a result, customer loyalty and commercial performance.

PAnorama Car makers customer satisfaction

The era of ‘one size fits all’ customer service is long gone. As car makers fight for market share in both saturated and growth markets, great potential for differentiation lies in how they treat their customers at the point of sale and service.

Tobias Reich, automotive expert,
PA Consulting Group


To find out more about how PA can help your dealerships deliver personal and exceptional customer service, please contact us now.

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