19 Dec

Puttin’ On the Ritz

“It’s not business, it’s personal.”

I was on a trip to New York and met up with a friend of mine (full disclosure: also a happy customer) Richard Hesse, the Dealer Principal at Mercedes-Benz of Nanuet (New York). He has a simple mantra: “It’s not business, it’s personal” — and he means it. I borrowed a car from him while I was in the NY area and had a minor issue come up with the toll pass at the booth. I called the store and his receptionist picked up. She was very courteous, heard me out, and said she would call me back. Amazingly, she called me back and, to my surprise, solved the problem right away. She had to find the loaner supervisor, get the answer for me, and return to her desk so she could call me back. This lady manifested Rich’s mantra — “It’s not business, it’s personal.”

Dealerships are constantly looking for ways to differentiate themselves, attract new customers, and retain the ones they have. Some dealerships even spend millions of dollars installing luxury amenities such as movie theaters, coffee bars, and beauty salons in an effort to create a great customer experience and, thereby, engender customer loyalty. But are such things necessary?

The problem is that no amenity or luxury will make the customer experience great if the fundamentals of good service don’t come first. Customer expectations are simple: (1) The dealership should have a welcoming environment and be clean; (2)The staff should be attentive and responsive to the customer, and (3) the car needs to be fixed right the first time.

The service must be prompt and address the customer’s precise needs and wants. In essence, your dealership should satisfy the need that brought the customer to the dealership while providing a welcoming environment that makes the customer want to return. These are the fundamentals of good service that will make your customer willing to travel to your dealership. Every other luxury or amenity you may choose to provide is the icing on the cake.

Make each experience great and the customer will come back. They may even recommend you to a friend or two.
In your opinion, can the staff alone at a business dictate the customer experience?

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