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Three things that help deliver five star service - guest opinion

Neil Smith, Imperial Car Supermarkets

“If there’s one reason we have done better than any of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience, and that really does matter, I think, in any business. It certainly matters online, where word-of-mouth is so very, very powerful.”

It’s not my quote unfortunately. It’s Jeff Bezos of Amazon. However this really resonates with me with regards to Imperial Cars.

Our growth has been frankly astonishing - and we attribute that strongly to our customer service standards.

In the last two years, we’ve launched eight new retail points.

Now if you like Jeff Bezos, then you’re in for a real treat, because I’m going to use his wordy wisdom to articulate my views on creating a lasting customer service impact worthy of five stars.

If you don’t like Jeff Bezos then I would recommend you still read on as there are some real nuggets here that will help drive customer satisfaction in your business.


TIP 1: You can’t measure what you can’t see - look at every touch point.

Whose responsibility is it to be customer focused/customer centric anyway? 

Clearly everyone plays a part, but is it enough to blanket statement it?   Just how do you install the customer service bug into your company mainframe?

“We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards. That becomes the touchstone for how we invent.” Jeff Bezos, Amazon.

The fastest way to get the clearest picture is to start with a blank piece of paper and detail every point that your customer touches, and ask yourself:

  • What can be improved?
  • What priority order should I work in?
  • Is there a people need, or a software need?
  • If I make this change, what do I imagine the impact to be?
  • Is the impact to the customer experience worth the time investment and anticipated ROI? (Profit is not a dirty word).


TIP 2:  Transparency builds trust - and it builds the best long-term relationships.

“The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.”

You guessed it. From Jeff Bezos at Amazon.

In the past two years, I’ve had a significant increase in requests to speak at conferences in some wonderful places across the world.  The subject people ask for: Unpack our award-winning approach to delivering a seamless online to offline experience.

We put everything, repeat everything that the customer wants to know on the table.  Guess what?  It hasn’t led to a reduction in enquiries - far from it, we’re experiencing record breaking enquiries (in a downturn I might add).  Myth-bustin’ at its finest?

“Our point of view is we will sell more if we help people make purchasing decisions.” Jeff Bezos, Amazon.


Tip 3: The price is the price is the price.

Do you know someone who likes negotiating?   OK, whatever your answer, do you know many people who like negotiating.

Let me put a different way; do you know anyone who likes spending a large sum of money, second guessing its value?

Does that sound like a good experience to you? 

“You don’t want to negotiate the price of simple things you buy every day.” - Jeff Bezos, Amazon.

So, we built software that helps us understand the market pricing and reacts autonomously.  Our sales managers use the free time to better manage the sales process and the customer experience - and avoid getting bogged down with the effect of rapidly changing variables and ‘Brexit’ bombs.

“We’ve done price elasticity studies, and the answer is always that we should raise prices. We don’t do that, because we believe — and we have to take this as an article of faith — that by keeping our prices very, very low, we earn trust with customers over time, and that that actually does maximize free cash flow over the long term.” - Jeff Bezos, Amazon.


I hope you’ve found the insight useful.  There are so many great players in our industry.  It’s reassuring to think that in some ways, we’re all after the same thing - providing a brilliant environment for people to buy cars from us.  A shared interest is what build bonds, and I’ve been fortunate to build some brilliant bonds with competitors and suppliers alike.   

It’s natural, easy and common in these fast-moving times to look around and judge yourself, or your business against what you see.  What you can’t see, is what it’s like to be a customer. 

“Keep our competitors focused on you, while you stay focused on the customer.” - Jeff Bezos, Amazon.

Keep your focus on the customer and like us, you will find that “good things come to those who follow this mantra” (Jeff Bezos quote…?), maybe not - but I’m sure he would agree!

Author: Neil Smith, operations director, Imperial Cars

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