In today’s economic climate, the automotive industry is doing it tough, with figures from the Australian Automotive Dealers Association and Commonwealth Bank showing new car sales at 20-year lows, although recent pent-up demand may give the sector a much needed boost.
So what’s an automotive dealership got to do to get those cars off the showroom floor and out the door?
Much of a successful sale depends on the quality of the customer experience (CX) and some forward thinking automotive brands are already leveraging mystery shopping as a way of adding value and driving continuous improvement. In other words, they’re looking to ensure that staff who engage with customers conduct themselves in a manner that reflects their values – and get results.
However, from our experience as CX experts, at CSBA we know that there is much more to a successful mystery shopping program than simply providing feedback to customer-facing staff on their performance.
Taking the customer experience to the next level
First, benchmarking is vital if you want to deliver the best customer experience. Only by knowing where you are today is it possible to understand what improvements need to be made.
- Understand where you are now – via an independent baseline assessment of the customer experience your people provide.
- Use these learnings to identify strengths and weaknesses, including opportunities to simplify processes, remove barriers and create a more positive experience for your customers.
At CSBA, we benchmark the quality of customer interactions based on three factors: Success, Ease and Sentiment. All three are critical – experiences have to be easy, they need to be successful and they should leave the customer feeling good about the interaction and your brand.
Training to improve
But while benchmarking is important, it’s just the start. Only by combining measurement with training is it possible to move the needle. For this reason, our team at CSBA also provides training to staff, either one to one or online to ensure continuous improvement.
Shopper quality matters
Third, the quality of any mystery shopping program depends on the shoppers themselves:
- Are they well trained, informed and convincing, or can your staff spot them a mile off?
- Do the mystery shoppers employ a variety of sales and service scenarios ranging in difficulty, and possibly, by dealer location?
- Do the shoppers engage with staff in a variety of ways: by phone, email and face to face (where still possible)?
At CSBA, our mystery shoppers come prepared with an overall topic (e.g. booking in a service, warranty enquiry, recall, etc.), a back story, persona and credible personal details, then allow the staff member to drive the experience… to demonstrate their knowledge and problem solving skills.
We also know that preparing mystery shoppers to pose as genuine customers starts with high quality inputs – client-specific scenarios – and our team works with internal stakeholders to devise scenarios that reflect real customer enquiries.
We’ve successfully used this approach with clients from the automotive and other industries for more than twenty years and can confidently say there has probably never been a more critical time to ensure your people are delivering the best customer experience possible.
Paul Van Veenendaal is Managing Director at CSBA