How is Your Customer Service, Right Now?

In today’s climate, vehicles are bringing higher prices than at any other time in history. In the majority of cases, this is not because dealers are providing customers with better service than at any other time in history. In fact, from everything I hear, it is the exact opposite. I hear and read more about customer service horror stories than ever before.

Now, unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past eighteen months, you know the reason dealers are getting extremely high prices while delivering a poor customer experience is Supply and Demand.

Economics Lesson 101: When the supply of a product is low, and the demand for that product is high, prices go up. That makes sense, right?

Maybe, in the short term, but how do our customers feel about this? How does this affect the long-term relationship between customer, salesperson, and dealership?

Now do not get me wrong; I am 100% for dealers making the most money possible. However, I am also 100% for giving the customer the level of service that warrants these high prices. This is where most dealers and salespeople fall off the cliff. Right now, making “all the money” is easy because of supply and demand. If a customer does not want to pay the dealer’s asking price, five others are waiting in line to pay it.

There will be many dealers and salespeople who don’t like what I am about to say, and that’s ok. These high profits and commissions are causing dealers and salespeople to get sloppy, create bad habits, and allow customer service to slip. This sloppiness, these bad habits, and the declining level of customer service are not costing the dealership or salespeople any profits or commissions right now. But what will happen when the supply and demand correct themselves, and the customers remember how they were treated? What happens when the dealerships and salespeople are still sloppy, they still have bad habits, and the customer service still sucks?

Customers will not only share their poor experience with everyone they know, but they are also going to remember it. The customer will not come back for service in both situations, let alone buy from the dealership or salesperson again. Simply put, a high profit now equals a lost customer in the future.

Recently, I received a phone call from a friend of mine. He was desperate for help to buy his wife a new car. He had said they had been shopping for weeks, and every dealership he went to treated him and his wife like crap. Yes, he was looking to get a deal. He wanted to buy a car at MSRP, and every dealer he talked to, said $5k over MSRP plus pre-installed addendum items or no sale. He asked if there was anything that I could do to help, and of course, I explained to him the market, why things were the way they were, and that I could not guarantee anything other than I would do my best to help.

I reached out to a manager I knew at a dealership that represented the brand my friend was looking for and explained the situation, and asked if he could help. He said he would do all he could, asked for my friend’s contact information, and said he was on it.

Later that day, my friend called me to let me know he and the manager had struck a deal, and my friend happily bought the car. He explained that he paid $4k over MSRP, which was more than he wanted; however, he was glad to do it because of how he was treated.

Here is a direct quote:

“It is a shame that I had to drive over two hours away to buy a car instead of one from {the local dealer}. I wish {the local dealer} could have just shown me a little empathy. It would have saved me hours of headaches and driving. Thank you for introducing me to {manager}. He was awesome, and I will recommend him to others. I appreciate your help in making this happen. By the way, do you know of a good place I can go for service?”

Let’s take a look at my friend’s situation:

  • He was grateful and thankful for paying $4k over MSRP
  • He will refer others to the manager and dealership he bought from
  • He will not return to the local dealer
  • He will tell others about the poor service at the local dealer

All it would have taken from the local dealer was a little empathy and compassion. If the dealership and salesperson had taken the time to show my friend why things were the way they were, why they wanted to earn his business, and why they cared about him as a customer, my friend would have paid the $5k over MSRP and been a happy customer.

However, the results of this lack of empathy are:

  • The dealership missed out on a significant profit
  • The salesperson missed out on a substantial commission
  • The dealership lost a future service customer
  • The dealership AND salesperson lost a prospective repeat customer
  • The dealership AND salesperson lost out on any possibility of referral business from this customer
  • The dealership AND salesperson lost out on any potential customers my friend told about his experience

I believe it is time to start thinking about what a customer is worth to you now AND in the future. And remember, a little EMPATHY and COMPASSION can go an incredibly long way in these current times when the market demands this high pricing. This will also help eliminate sloppiness and bad habits and increase your level of customer service when supply and demand are not driving the market.



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