Flying is a part of the job. Even dealers have to fly to auctions, meetings, conventions, etc. Over the last 17 years I have noticed a remarkable lack of courtesy, kindness and even basic service toward passengers. What kind of training are the employees receiving? More importantly, what type of leadership by management are they seeing?
I had the pleasure to need to book two trips on a major (U.S.) Air line. My daughter was taking a trip that took her from Wilmington to Charlotte and ultimately to New Hampshire. I was flying the very next day on the same flight to Charlotte and ultimately to Wisconsin. What are the odds that on two consecutive days you'd have the exact same delay on the exact same flight?
Well, we did. She ended up getting rerouted to an airport in South Carolina because they kept circling until the needed fuel. When she ultimately arrived in Charlotte her connection was long gone. Then, they told her the problem - weather. It was a sunny hot day in Charlotte and her connecting flight had to land there moments before she was due and they had no problem. That being the case, why would they say weather? Because, if weather is the listed problem, they are under no obligation to take care of the passenger. It saves them a fortune.
The very next night my Charlotte connection was scheduled to take off at exactly the same time. I even asked the gate attendant if there was any chance we would be delayed due to "weather." She assured me it was almost impossible. We sat on the tarmac for over an hour, the only flight scheduled to take off, because - you guessed it, weather. When I asked what was really going on, I received no answer. And then, I heard the almost cult like response that has become all too familiar. "I'm sorry sir, there is nothing we can do.
Have you ever shopped at Nordstrom's? This is an experience even if you never make a purchase. You feel as if every employee who makes any contact with you is the owner. They are all trained to go out of their way to make this an experience that will compare to no other shopping experience you've ever had. Every employee is given a special power - the power to make decisions to keep the customer happy with their entire Nordstrom experience. That decision making power is what lets Nordstrom enjoy a remarkable reputation as the place to shop - even though you will pay more when you buy there.
Are there situations in your dealership where people tend to come up with excuses for their actions so as NOT to be held responsible? You need to fix that problem immediately. Give your key people the responsibility to make decisions regarding customers and allow them to think what would be in everyone's best interest BEFORE telling a customer there is nothing that can be done. I even suggest having them shop at a Nordstrom's if there is one near you. Let them see what REAL SERVICE is actually like.
Don't misunderstand, I'm never going to tell you to give away the store to keep whining customers happy. If you have done everything you promised, and a customer is absolutely unreasonable, stick to policy. However, if there is even a slight chance that the fault was within your four walls, permit your people to approach the problem from the desired result backward.
In other words, start at what would make everyone happy and then take it backward to where things are currently. If it makes sense and wins a customer over for the long-term, do it. Now, I know that as a dealer, you can make that decision any time you choose. But, if you aren't getting personally involved in every situation, you need to allow your managers the flexibility to make a decision without fear of being come down on for the results. This way they can clearly think about what is best for everyone rather than what will cause them the least amount of pain from above.
Many times when people are given this type of power, an amazing thing happens. They actually work with the customer on a solution and it generally reduces actual policy costs while raising customer satisfaction. You had faith in your managers when you hired them. Have confidence that given the opportunity, they will often do the right thing for the dealership as well as for the customer.
John Fuhrman is the Senior National Trainer for Carolina Automotive Resource Services, a unit of The Dealer Resource Group. His ten books have reached 1.5 million readers and he has trained sales professionals around the world. Our Trainers are ready to work for you and develop a sales team you can be proud of. Email us by Wednesday and we're in your dealership on Monday ready to interview. When your dealership needs amazing results hiring new people, visit http://www.thedealerresourcegroup.net. ATTENTION DEALERS: VISIT OUR WEB SITE AND REGISTER TO KEEP UP ON MONTHLY TRAINING SAVING SPECIALS. Our trainers are ready to show you our "WOW!" factor. (c)2012 by John Fuhrman - Permission to reprint this post in its entirety, including contact information, is hereby granted.