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Tag Archive: General Manager

Tony Alessandra

Customer Service – The DISC Styles Way!

mature salesman showing new car to a couple

Everywhere you turn today, you hear about the importance of customer satisfaction. From the bank to the phone company to the video store, every business seems to proclaim “The Customer Is King,” that “People Are Our Business,” that “Your Satisfaction Is Our No.1 Goal.”

 So, you might think that service is getting better with each passing moment. Surveys, though, suggest otherwise. In fact, one customer in four is said to be thinking about leaving the average business at any given time because of dissatisfaction.

What’s wrong? One answer is that that too many companies and employees view customer support as something that happens once and then is over. But true service focuses not on a one-time event but on building a sustained, positive relationship.

A second reason for poor service is that we often treat customers and clients as if they’re all pretty much the same. But only by honoring their individuality can we hope to build lasting rapport. Firms and people with a positive attitude toward service know that each contact–even a conflict or a complaint–is an opportunity that may never come again. Such encounters typically fall into three categories:

Moments of Magic: Positive experiences that make customers glad to do business there.

Moments of Misery: Negative experiences that irritate, frustrate, or annoy.

Moments of Mediocrity: Routine, uninspired service that leaves neither a strong positive impression nor a strong negative impression.

Moments of Magic might include a hotel clerk who greets you with a warm smile, uses your name, shakes your hand, and sincerely asks that you call her with any problems. You remember such experiences.

But you probably remember even more clearly Moments of Misery, such as clerks who won’t take responsibility for solving problems–personnel who don’t know what they’re doing-and worse yet, don’t seem to care–or salespeople who first ignore you, then act as if they’re doing you a favor by taking your money. We’ve all had those experiences, but usually not more than once at the same place. Because we don’t go back.

Exceeding Expectations

The key to creating a Moment of Magic is exceeding a customer’s expectations. Sounds simple enough. But because people’s expectations vary according to personality type, what works for one may not work for another.

Handling a complaint is one of the most common, yet difficult, service situations, for customer and employee alike. So we’re going to look at that process and how we can use knowledge of the DISC behavioral styles to create Moments of Magic.

As anyone who’s ever dealt with upset customers can attest, they can be a diverse bunch: some loudly belligerent, some agitated but overloading you with details, others low-key and almost apologetic. But if you respond the same way to the belligerent, the agitated, and the apologetic, you might increase the irritation for some of them. You might even produce a Moment of Misery.

That’s because each style shows different symptoms of stress and reacts in different ways. But if you can recognize and respond to these patterns, you can reduce stress, yours and theirs.

Dealing with High ‘D’ Dominance Styles

As complainants, High D’s can be aggressive and sometimes pushy. And they may become intrusive, perhaps saying something like, “I demand to see the president this instant!” or “If you don’t furnish me every last bit of correspondence in this matter, you’ll hear from my lawyer in the morning.”

High D’s may appear uncooperative, trying to dictate terms and conditions. But ask yourself: what do they need? You can help defuse them by providing:

• Results, or at least tangible signs of progress;

• A fast pace;

• Evidence that they have control of the situation;

• A belief that time is being saved.

The last thing you should do is to assert your authority and argue with the High D’s. They’re not going to be listening, and they’ll probably out-assert you. “Nobody ever won an argument with a customer” is an axiom of service. And that’s doubly true with High D’s.

Dealing with High ‘I’ Influence Styles

High I’s with a complaint may seem overeager and impulsive. “I need this settled right this moment,” they might say, despite your logical explanation of why this complex situation can’t possibly be cleared up for 48 hours. High I’s, usually skilled in verbal attack, may also come across as manipulative, perhaps saying, “I wonder if a letter to your CEO and chairman of the board would improve your attitude?”

Under stress, High I’s’ primary response may be to disregard the facts and anything you say. But you can address their needs by giving them:

• Personal attention;

• Affirmation of their position;

• Lots of verbal give-and-take;

• Assurance that effort is being saved.

You may think the best course is to sit there impassively and let the High I’s harangue you. But, actually, you’d probably be better off to give them a quick-paced, spirited explanation that shows you aren’t just brushing them off.

Dealing with High ‘S’ Steadiness Styles

High S’s are the least likely to be loud and argumentative. When they do come forward, they may appear submissive, hesitant, or even apologetic. Worse yet, they may not even complain openly but just internalize their dissatisfaction and then take their business elsewhere. So if you suspect a problem, you may need to draw them out.

High S’s hate conflict, so they just wish this whole problem would go away, even if it weren’t necessarily settled in their favor. “I’m sorry to make such a big deal out of this,” they often say.

High S’s will be made most comfortable if you:

• Make them feel they’re personally “okay”;

• Promise that the crisis will soon ebb;

• Guarantee that the process will be relaxed and pleasant;

• Show you’re committed to working with them to iron out the problem and save the “relationship.”

You might be tempted to think the diffident RELATER is not to be taken seriously and can be shunted aside with mere lip service. But, remember, they’re just as upset as High D’s are; they just express it in a much more low-key way. And they’ll quietly go elsewhere if their needs aren’t met.

Dealing with High ‘C’ Conscientious Styles

High C’s won’t loudly carp and cajole like High D’s or High I’s, but they won’t be submissive, either. And their complaints may have a sharper edge to them than will the High S’s.

High C’s tend to recite the chronology of events and the litany of errors they’ve had to endure. They’ll provide data and documentation and get quite involved in the details of the snafu.

Here’s how you can lessen tension with complaining High C’s:

• Suggest that they’re right

• Explain the process and details

• Show appreciation for their accuracy and thoroughness

• Help them save face”

You may see them as compulsives more hung up on the process and on showing they’re right than getting the problem resolved. But if you want to retain their loyalty, you’ll deal with them precisely and systematically, emphasizing your firm’s interest in seeing justice done.

An Important Head Start

Knowing and using The Platinum Rule to deal with complaints gives you an important head start toward creating a Moment of Magic. It allows you to collaborate with your customers in solving the problem, reducing the likelihood that they’ll make outrageous demands, become abusive or take their business elsewhere.

In fact, studies show that customers who feel that a business has responded to their complaints are more likely than non-complainers to do business there again. They actually become more loyal than if the problem never happened.

So look at your complaints as opportunities to show much you really care about the customer. Remember: Your customers aren’t just part of your job; your customers are the reason you have a job!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/07/customer-service-the-disc-styles-way/

Dustin Kerr

Do You Have a Business… or Just a Job with More Risks?

dealership

When I was operating dealerships in Northeast Oklahoma, there was a little hamburger joint that had some of the best hamburgers and fried squash I had ever eaten. At the expense of my girlish figure, I would attempt to eat at this burger joint about once a week. The odd thing about that burger business is that some days it would just be closed for no apparent reason. Sometimes, it would stay closed for a week or two at a time before opening back up.

We had one of the employees as our customer, and one day, I asked her what the deal was with the restaurant being closed at such odd intervals. She informed me that the owner was elderly and when he was sick or had medical procedures that he would just shut the restaurant down because he had never taught anyone else how to run the day-to-day operations. It struck me that this gentleman appeared to have built a great business with a great product, but in reality, he didn’t have a business, he had a job with more headache and risks.

You may be asking yourself what this has to do with the car business.

Well, since you asked…I recently had the opportunity to attend the NIADA convention in Las Vegas and had the pleasure of meeting a lot of independent car dealers and talking with them about the 20 Group peer collaboration concept. Many of the dealers had no idea what a 20 Group was and were very excited to potentially join a group and learn from others going through the same challenges. Everything was great until I told them we meet three times a year for a day and a half. I heard the same objection over and over again and it went something like this: “It’s all I could do to get away to this conference. I’m scared to death about what’s going on while I’m gone. There’s no way I could commit to three days, three times a year to attend meetings away from my dealership.”

Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” The question is: can your dealership afford to continue facing the same challenges without viable, proven solutions?

Just like the gentleman that owned the hamburger joint, these used car dealers did not have a real business, they had a job but with more risks and a lot more headaches. As business owners or upper management, you put in a lot of hours, have a lot of investment at risk, and must overcome never-ending challenges from customers, competition, and regulators. Some people think the best way to manage all those obstacles is to just do everything yourself. It’s not. In fact, trying to manage it all yourself is a recipe for disaster. It is critical to the success of your business and, more importantly, your health, to find or identify people in your organization that can help you run your business when you need to be away, whether that is for a 20 Group meeting, illness, or simply taking a vacation.

Remember, your primary job as a manager or leader is to train and manage activities. If you are scared of what might happen if you had to be away from your dealership for a few days, you might ask yourself “Do I have a business or just a job with more risk and more headaches?”


Learn more from Dustin Kerr:

bhphtraining

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/07/do-you-truly-treat-this-as-a-collections-business/

Robin Cunningham

Are Better Than Banker’s Hours Possible in the Car Business?

Man business modern in wristwatch

Is that a crazy title to a blog article, or what? Recently, I had the opportunity to accompany one of our 20 Group Moderators to one of his meetings. The plan was for the groups to each bring one of their Variable Managers to the meeting, and I would work with them separately from the dealer meeting. Then, I would report back to the dealers the next morning on how our breakout meeting went.

Before any of that started, the group met at one of the member’s dealership on Sunday evening, shortly after the dealership had closed. Many of the staff members were there to interact with us, show us around to the various departments, and answer any questions we might have about their operation. It really was a great experience. We knew this was a large, successful, and very profitable dealership. It is a rare opportunity to visit a dealership after hours and see it from that perspective. All the dealership staff seemed relaxed and yet confident about themselves and their respective positions in the dealership. We had a wonderful meal catered on a portion of the showroom floor. Incidentally, there were no cars on the showroom floor. Instead, on the floor there were only couches, chairs, tables and plants. It was more like a nice hotel lobby.

The next evening at dinner, I happened to be sitting next to the dealer whose store we had visited the previous evening. By now, I was very familiar with their financial data to match the more personal experience with him and his staff the night before. I must have said something about what an ongoing challenge it must be to keep that level of culture and profitability maintained month after month, year after year. He agreed it was and then said that he only worked from 10:00AM to 3:00PM each day. As you might imagine, I was a bit stunned by that comment. Then, I half-kiddingly said, “And you probably go out to lunch as well right?” He looked at me and said that he certainly did go out to lunch each day with one of his staff members.

What I haven’t said yet, is this person is the Managing Partner in the store from a large dealership group. So technically, he is the General Manager; and the night before, I found out there really isn’t a General Sales Manager either. So we are not talking about a place that has all those roles covered by other people with those bigger titles.

My head was kind of spinning with how this was possible. He looked over at me and said, “Robin, the reason this is now possible is that I spent years and years and years training all my people on exactly what they needed to be doing and why.”

As some of you know, I am a full-time instructor at the NCM Institute so training and coaching is what I do. To actually hear someone talk about his years and years of training his people, and to have actually been in that store and met his people, is essentially unheard of. By the way, I have never met a more humble, low-key person in his position.

The next morning, when I was debriefing the dealers about the time I spent with their Variable Managers, I could not restrain myself from retelling this story to this person’s fellow Members. Maybe they already knew this. They certainly knew how profitable the store was.

So going back to the audacious title of this blog about whether “better than banker’s hours” are possible in the retail automobile industry, I can now tell you the answer is yes. It just takes years and years of training your people to know exactly what they need to be doing and why.

Accountability management is essential. At the NCM Institute, we work with the six primary elements of effective accountably management as our starting point for everything.

There is so much more upside opportunity available to us in the retail automobile business than we likely believe is possible. Consistent, long-term training for all of our people is apparently the key.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/05/are-better-than-bankers-hours-possible-in-the-car-business/

Ali Mendiola

40 Percent or More of Your Website Traffic Comes from Mobile. Are You Ready?

mobilesite

You build a website thinking that customers will take the time to go to a computer and do their research. After all, they’re going to spend thousands of dollars on a new or pre-owned vehicle, so you want the experience they have on your website to be scalable, colorful and rich in content and tools.

And you’d be right. Your website must offer lots of brilliant content in a design that makes your cars shine, and with digital retailing tools you must connect the online world with your in-store shopping experience. Your website must be a digital conversion machine.

There’s only one catch: That picture is changing, and fast. Today, according to comScore and Mobile Metrix, around 80 percent of people in the U.S. own smartphones. So when it comes to car shoppers, it makes sense that many are actually using a smartphone, or tablet, to visit your site, search inventory and conduct those all-important first purchase steps. In fact, according to traffic on the Dealer.com network, more than 40 percent of visits to dealership websites come from mobile devices.

That’s four out of ten potential buyers looking at your inventory on a screen that could be as small as a business card.

That’s not a trend. It’s a fact. Mobile shopping behavior will and is continuing to gain momentum, to the point that your sales and marketing solution must accommodate the differences. Check out this interesting article from Dealer.com on the most important differences between Responsive, Adaptive and Seamless mobile design. Part of that design approach must also include retail tools that help ease the process of conversion from shopper to buyer.

It’s not enough to have a search-and-user friendly mobile experience; the same digital steps that dealers count on to help speed car buyers through the initial purchase steps of a website should do the same on the mobile equivalent. From searching inventory to calculating payment, checking realistic finance offers and trade-in values, these types of efficient digital tools – when designed correctly – are more valuable because they’re available when and how consumers want to shop, and when they want to buy. That sort of on-demand and mobile-first approach to digital retail is a significant difference maker.

It’s critical that dealers provide consistency across their sites and apps, no matter what device is being used to access the information. That’s not only about the look, feel, and information displayed on a site, but also when it comes to providing an online shopping environment. Too often, in fact, talk of a mobile experience ends at the research phase when what dealers need is a complete package which includes mobile and tablet-ready Digital Retailing tools. From trade-in to finance, those tools empower shoppers to find the perfect vehicle, serve up pricing and payment solutions in line with your dealership criteria, and even provide trade-in offers based on your inventory needs.

The reason? Convenience amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life. The reality is that people want to complete more of shopping transaction wherever and whenever they can – sitting in the carpool line before the school bell rings, between meetings, or waiting at the doctor’s office. Those spare 10 minutes are valuable opportunities to get shopping and research done via whichever type of device consumers wish to use. Dealers and their staff, as a result, have to be ready. Those that are ready will improve sales and the overall buyer’s experience.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/03/40-percent-or-more-of-your-website-traffic-comes-from-mobile-are-you-ready/