The latest winner of AM's Excellence in Aftersales award is to reveal how creating the ‘wow’ factor has become an art form.
Managing director of dual franchise dealership Pebley Beach, Dom Threlfall will illustrate how dealers can turn concepts into reality when he takes to the stage at AM's first ever Customer Service Summit which takes place at Whittlebury Hall, near Silverstone on April 14.
"We come up with new ideas, evolve our practices and constantly make small changes and that enables us to deliver the 'wow' factor consistently," said Threlfall (pictured).
"Often the ideas are simple. Like every dealership, we have a problem with on-site parking so we keep reserved car parking bays and customers are directed to these when they drive in. When customers make an appointment, we tell them we have reserved them a parking space and it makes them feel looked after and that their custom is important to us."
A focus group made up of employees from across the business, which took the Motor Codes crown in 2014 for the franchised Garage of the Year and was a regional winner and runner up in 2015, meets on a periodic basis to discuss issues and debate solutions as well as coming up with new initiatives.
Threlfall said: "I try and look outside the industry for inspiration. Whenever I eat at a restaurant, stay at a hotel or even when I have a pizza delivered, I evaluate the experience and if there is anything memorable, I will try and replicate it in our business."
It's not just the customer-facing aspects that enable a business to deliver the 'wow' factor on a daily basis, processes behind-the-scenes are imperative to keep the dealership running smoothly and efficiently which has a huge impact on the customer experience.
At Pebley Beach (which has the Suzuki and Hyundai franchises), Threlfall has been working with his DMS providers Pinnacle, manufacturer partners and other software houses to devise bespoke elements to better manage the customer experience.
It includes enabling technicians to update a customer's record indicating the process of a car through the workshop so the customer has complete visibility, in addition, staff are all responsible for relatively simple but highly effective tasks such as always verifying contact details at every touch point.
"It's the simple things that make the difference," said Threlfall.
"Our interactive display boards have been configured to announce the arrival of customers by name and vehicle registration when they arrive to drop off their vehicle for a service, for example.
“Most dealers' systems have that capability, but many dealers are not familiar enough with the technology or just don't make the time to implement such simple measures yet customers feel valued so it is well worth the little effort many of these touches require."
Threlfall will shed further light on everything from the small touches to the more complex processes in place which has developed the company's exceptional customer care reputation and has resulted in impressive retention and referral rates.