You never want your dealership to become infamous for poor customer service. No company wants that sort of stain on their brand image. And in today’s always-on, always-connected society, it’s incredibly easy for poor customer experiences to go viral and impact both sales and your brand image.
Comcast has a well-documented history of infuriating customers. If you recall this internet phenomenon from 2014, there was an encounter between a customer who was trying to cancel internet service and a Comcast employee who worked tirelessly to convince him otherwise. The recording of the conversation is painful to hear. Even a company as customer-centric as Amazon has been drawn into the crossfire through a poor customer experience during a live chat session where the customer was called the wrong name and gender throughout the encounter.
Needless to say, the internet is an unforgiving place in many respects when it comes to showcasing poor customer experiences. What’s more, a clear takeaway from each of these examples is that the individual employees have a significant role in shaping these experiences and perceptions as a whole.
With better employees, you’re able to make substantial progress towards creating a dealership culture and operational standard that consistently provides exceptional customer experiences.
How To Get Started with A Hiring Strategy
According to an article for Harvard Business Review, companies that effectively manage the entire customer experience see improved customer and employee satisfaction, stronger loyalty and higher revenue. From a hiring perspective, you need to implement a standardized process to select better quality employees who will provide your customers with a higher quality experiences.
Improving customer experiences doesn’t happen by addressing a single interaction with a customer—it involves everyone in your dealership. It’s truly a cultural shift, and one that needs to be reflected in the attitudes and core competencies of each and every employee.
With that in mind, here are a few qualities that you should look for in each candidate:
- Listening abilities – In a customer service position, being able to focus your attention exclusively on the customer sometimes feels like a lost art—and like assessing artwork, trying to be objective about a person’s listening skills can be tricky when you’re not given the right tools. This is the type of soft skill that will likely present itself during a phone or in-person interview with job candidates. Take this opportunity to measure the accuracy of their responses to pointed questions, whether they talk over the interviewer and if their body language indicates they’re paying attention to you.
- Empathy – Like listening skills, empathy is pretty difficult to judge unless you see a candidate in action. However, pre-screening tests and assessments can provide insight into whether a candidate will respond to a hypothetical situation in the right way. At the same time, you can ask open-ended questions that allow you to see whether the candidate exhibits empathy in response to a customer’s issues.
- Technology literacy – While a great deal of customer experience management comes down to face-to-face human interaction and people skills, you need staff that understands how to get things done from a technical perspective. The kindest, most accommodating person in the world will still rub a car buyer the wrong way if he or she can’t point out specifications or talk about key vehicle features such as infotainment or Bluetooth connectivity with customers. Skills assessment tests are ideal for this sort of situation, providing you with an objective metric by which to score job candidates.
Understand Your Customers
At the foundation of your shift toward providing exceptional customer experiences is knowing your customer through and through. According to the annual J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, the number one thing new-car buyers look for when they’re selecting a specific model is reliability and durability. So, if your sales team member immediately starts off by how cool the customer will look in the vehicle, they may be getting off on the wrong foot—or, at least, isn’t addressing the customer’s priorities.
You need employees who have the listening skills, attitude and know-how to get to the bottom of what your customers want from the get-go. That means smarter hiring. Dealers with a process-driven approach are much more likely to find and hire quality candidates. In fact, 70% of our auto customer’s new employees hired through Hireology are rated as high-quality hires.
Take a data-driven approach to hiring that leverages skills assessments, pre-screening tools and interview checklists that help you objectively evaluate candidates.
Thanks to NCM Associates’ partner, Hireology, for sharing the guidance on employee referral programs. Learn more about Hireology. And join NCM’s experts for more actionable advice for hiring the best people for your team in our Finding Top Talent and Success-Driven Pay Plan classes.