In an era of cost-cutting automation, don't lose sight of customer conversations.
It can be easy to be tempted by possible savings when faced with the option to use a bot/AI. The reality is: You may be compromising earnings, both in the short and long term, by ignoring the great customer satisfaction that comes from having meaningful conversations that encourage doing business with you.
Consistently delightful communication is the key to making your customers feel valued, heard, and appreciated.
An organization is made up of humans - real people - and your customer base is cut from the same cloth. One-way communication and non-specific customer service jargon and sidesteps are relics of the past (or, they should be).
Sean O'Neal of the Forbes Business Council agrees:
"Customers’ interactions with brands are constantly changing. The latest evolution includes the expectation that customers will be treated as individuals and receive personalized service, including one-on-one conversations via their preferred digital channel." (Source)
Meaningful Conversations Matter in The Dealership World
If you're reading this, you might be in automotive sales. (At least, this is who we would like to be reading it!) You are likely already aware of how important customer conversation is when it comes to the sales process. A needs analysis, clarifying questions on what they are looking for, and looking for opportunities to relate to the customer are all key elements of the car sales process.
But is your sales team proficient with these conversational principles? Your BDC? Your customer service teams?
Face-to-face customer interactions are one thing, but what about in a text-only medium? Texting can come across as a little flat, and your customers aren't acquainted with your dealership yet. Is your team equipped to handle potentially difficult conversations in a chat medium?
Every word — and how you say it — counts.
Great Customer Conversation Means Great Customer Satisfaction
Think about customer conversations as the foundation for the rest of the sales process.
Think about going on a first date, or a job interview! These are all first-impression scenarios that can set the tone for the customer relationship moving forward.
When you think about customer relationship management, think about the conversations you're having as something that could contribute to a memorable and meaningful experience. Your customer is a real human being and will remember how this experience made them feel. It is not a stretch to say that customer conversations can be sacred.
This can lead to long-term customer loyalty and a higher likelihood that your customer recommends you to friends and family.
4 Ways to Have the Best Customer Conversations at Your Dealership
Customer conversations are kind of a science. There is a bit of a method to them. Or at least, there can be if you so choose! Here are four ways you can optimize your customer conversations and help them feel valued and confident in their decision to work with you!
1) Acknowledge and repeat.
Have you ever gone through the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant, relayed your order and the attendant didn't repeat your order back to you?
It doesn't really inspire confidence in the order you just placed, does it?
Successful conversations don't always have a defined beginning, middle, and end. However, a key part of conversations, and showing that you're listening, is rephrasing and repeating the information back. This not only helps you affirm what the customer's needs are; it shows the customer that you understand those needs, too.
This goes for any conversation, whether it be in sales or in your personal life, but repeating information back helps break down barriers.
According to The Emotion Machine:
"Repeating people’s words can be very important in building likability, comfort, and social connectedness. Psychologists are calling this the 'echo effect'...
...When people use the same words, it creates less social distance between them and makes them feel more similar to each other. But when people use very different words, it creates more social distance and makes them feel more disconnected from each other."
Some customers may already feel some perceived power dynamic between themselves and you, but positive customer conversations that convey humanity and relatability can leave you with some confident, happy customers!
2) Mirror your customer.
We talked about repeating customer information back to them to help show you understand their needs, but "mirroring" is somewhat different.
Customers are a varied and unique lot, but we've found they can generally be placed in one of two categories: Transactional and Relational.
Transactional customers aren't exactly emotionless, but they are certainly more straightforward and ready to get down to business. They often know what they want, and they want to make sure you know what you're talking about.
For transactional customers, you want to keep the conversation productive and address genuine concerns. Note their pain points, and convey information a bit more matter-of-factly.
We're not saying this is going to be a difficult conversation (although it could be), but certainly a different one.
Relational customers are a notable difference. They often have an overly positive tone, use positive language, and are looking for someone to match their energy.
They've got a personal story or two to tell, so get ready to have these kinds of conversations and maybe even share a little more about yourself than you typically would.
These people want to work with people!
3) Respond in a timely manner.
This kind of goes without saying, but you need to keep your customers on the line. So, respond or follow up relatively quickly!
Respecting a customer's time is more important than you might think.
"A survey by Forrester shows that:
- 73% of customers claim that valuing their time is one of their most important customer service values.
- The same research points out that at least 53% of consumers tend to give up on a purchase if they can’t find quick answers to their questions.
- When browsing between different stores, 78% of consumers will buy from the first company that answers their questions quickly and accurately, often putting product or service prices in second place."
Those are pretty significant statistics and show that customers highly value a quick and consistent experience and timely support. Website visitors especially are likely people at work or someone who just wants to get something done quietly and hassle-free. Make sure your customer conversations address their needs quickly in the instance of using online chat or even a phone call.
Fast response times to these kinds of people are important because, well, the internet is a big place and they basically have infinite choices!
4) Be sincere.
All of these aspects are important in customer conversations. But, above all:
Bring the sincerity!
Customers have their own lives and their own lived experiences. They can tell when someone isn't being genuine, or going through the motions to make a sale. Obviously, new customers come to you for a product and/or service, and ultimately want to get down to business, but bringing great communication to customer conversations is going to create lasting relationships that leave their mark.
Bring your unique voice, showcase your brand experience, answer questions, and communicate with empathy and understanding.
Ask where they are on their own unique customer journey, give them all of the options and an alternative solution if necessary, and create a relationship.
Customer Conversations are the Key to Keeping Customers
Great customer conversations can give you a competitive advantage over the many dealerships alongside you in your community. Equip your sales teams with the power of good customer conversations and you'll see it pay dividends in your current sales process.
ActivEngage Customer Service Teams Have the Best Customer Conversations
When it comes to having customer conversations, no other automotive live chat provider does it better than ActivEngage.
We use 100% live customer engagement experts, no bots and/or AI, and have a data driven approach when it comes to continually refining and optimizing our conversations based on current automotive industry trends and dealer partner feedback.
Start having better conversations today and meet your shoppers wherever they are in their customer journey with our messaging solutions. Choose from: