Mercedes-Benz, he said, has it right with a Net Promoter score. This is based on one question: ‘How likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to your friends and colleagues?’ “All the rest of a CSI questionnaire is noise,” Gupta said. “We might not have followed you up within 36 minutes of leaving the showroom or we might not have introduced you to the service department, but overall were you really pleased with the experience?”
To this end, all Marshall staff have been educated on the value of experience and its part in customer retention. Every business has service plan targets; staff pay, including business managers’ from this year, is linked to service plan sales.
Marshall has changed showroom staff’s sale process, taking the traditional 10-step process and changing it in recognition of the internet’s influence.
Gupta says customers are given the opportunity to explain the outcome of their 11 hours of internet research, their car choice, the specification, the colour. Then it is the salesperson’s job to find out what funding options are available based around the traditional elements of their budget, the selling price of the new car and a part-exchange valuation.
“Part of our value is in educating the customer into making sure they can afford a particular vehicle. Equally, we can guide them away from what an internet search led them to, to a vehicle with better spec, but on a low rate-finance deal. Or, a specific example, a base model Mercedes C-Class can have a significantly worse residual value than if you added features such as leather and satellite navigation. With a PCP, a customer can be in a car they didn’t think at the outset they could afford and be in a strong situation financially overall.
“Dealers add the value here.”
Three dealer functions the internet can never replace
It is around this point that Gupta believes the franchised dealer model becomes secure, because of what it brings to the deal that the internet will not be able to.
He believes the internet will never be able to give a true value of the part-exchange, will never be able to prompt the emotional response required for a consumer to make a buying decision and cannot provide the process and mechanism to ensure the car is serviced.