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The Big Picture: Making it work for customers

It’s a people business; people only buy from people; people are your biggest asset but can be your biggest problem – all clichés, all true. People make retailing highly unpredictable because, left to their own devices, they are inconsistent in thought and act.

This was brought home during a mystery shop of dealers carried out by some of my team. I expected some differences when a man and a woman visited the same dealerships; that was why we carried out the exercise. What I didn’t expect was the totally different views between two women at the same dealership. They had opposite experiences. At one, the sales staff left our mystery shopper waiting for so long she gave up; for the other shopper, the experience was so good she bought a car.

You couldn’t get a greater contrast and I’d wager this scenario is played out across the country every day of the week.

The reason isn’t (always) down to deliberately difficult staff. It’s down to lack of process, poor implementation or no measure of success. The right process when handling customers ensures a consistent, uniform experience. Go through the same basic sales procedure for each person and you are part-way there. Next you need quality managers who can ensure the process is implemented every time. Attitude is key.

Back to our mystery shop. The shopper who had the poor experience phoned the dealership to speak to the sales manager. His reaction was to huff and puff at the news and say “so what?”. Then he asked whether she was buying a car. When she replied “no”, he said: “well, it doesn’t matter then”.

Wrong – it does matter. That blasé attitude will filter down to the staff and will have one of two repercussions. First, you could lose out on a potential sale. Second, if the person is a mystery shopper from a carmaker, you could miss out on your bonus.

Everyone should be treated as if they are your best customer and to ensure that happens, you need to have processes that are measurable. Process, implementation and measurement – three simple steps to reduce the fickle nature of people.

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