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Guest Experience: Why It Matters and How it Impacts Your Bottom Line By Mark Curcio

Recently, while traveling for business, the unexpected happened, as it often does. While driving on the freeway at about 75 miles per hour we had a tire blowout. It was a hot day and we were wearing business suits because we had several visits planned with dealer partners. We were able to change the tire without getting too messy, but we still had a problem. We were limited in our travels due to the size and ability of the spare tire.

My colleague and I contacted a local dealership we found using our smartphone. We didn't know what to expect, and we were somewhat skeptical. The Service Advisor took our information and committed to calling back to let us know how quickly they could get the right tire into their shop.

To our surprise, the dealership called us back promptly and informed us that the tire would be in the next morning. They were also able to give us clear expectations about when and how they would be able to change the tire and get us back on the road, which meant we would be able to hit our next day’s dealer visits.

We continued our trip and made our next day appointment without issue, and then traveled to the dealership. When we arrived, the Service Advisor once again set clear expectations and even recommended a lunch spot and coffee shop where we could work while the tire was replaced.

Upon our return, we were pleased to see that not only was the spare replaced, but also all of the spare equipment had been restored and tightened down, and the car was freshly washed...all within about an hour.

Grateful for the prompt service, professionalism, and most importantly the concern for our time and comfort during this unexpected mishap, we sought out the General Manager of the dealership to thank him personally. We wanted to let him know of our experience dealing with the service department.

The General Manager was pleased by our feedback, but he wasn't surprised. He explained to us that although he was happy about our experience, he explained how this was by design. He told us “addressing guest concerns in a professional manner is something we work on with intent and focus.” He further discussed the intensive efforts he and his staff work on daily to deliver the kind of "above and beyond" service that ensures their customers receive world class service every time they visit.

This experience reinforced to me the real-world importance of customer service. Customer and guest experience have a real effect on our businesses.

Afterward, we gave the dealership a 5-star rating on Google. We often hear and read about the importance that guest experience has on our businesses, and this experience is an example of that. In today’s fast-paced world and competitive market, guest experience has much, if not everything to do with our bottom line.

Guest Experience Applies Everywhere

This same idea holds true when acquiring vehicles from private sellers as well. For consumers, selling their vehicle on their own can be a harrowing task that includes being contacted by strangers, meeting people in public parking lots, and exchanging large amounts of cash in less-than-desirable places. All of these factors add to a stressful experience.

As dealers buying vehicles from private sellers, we have the opportunity to take that stress away by making the process of selling a private vehicle fast, safe, and easy for our guests.

Dealers concentrating on buying used vehicles from private sellers have hundreds of opportunities each month to make a difference in a guest's experience by educating and assisting them with the process. Even if they don’t end up selling their vehicle to your dealership, you still have a chance to make an impact that they will remember and share with people they know.

V.A.N. Dealer Advocate David Long of the Del Grande Auto Group Buy Center holds true to the philosophy that delivering a premium guest experience is good for business. The Del Grande Buy Center acts as a “seller advocate” when interacting with private sellers. The goal at Del Grande is to deliver a premium experience at every phase of the seller's journey, from the initial contact through the appraisal and to the eventual acquisition. Everyone on his staff strives to earn a seller’s confidence and provide accurate and timely information about the acquisition process.

The prevalence of consumer reviews has become an important factor in the algorithms that determine how dealerships are ranked in search results. This is why it is crucial to make sure our processes are designed to make the guest experience a positive and memorable one.

With search systems like Alexa, Echo and Yelp utilizing business ratings to make recommendations based on user requests, a business with less than desirable consumer rankings can be filtered or completely eliminated from search results based on poor ratings. The outcome has a net effect on how you will be perceived by your potential sellers, if they end up contacting you at all.

Customer experience also ranks high on manufacturers' scorecards and is examined often as an analytic metric for determining the overall performance of a franchise dealership. A series of low rankings will have a negative impact at the manufacturer relations level. Above all else, reviews and word of mouth have never had a more profound effect on how consumer perspectives are being shaped than they are today.

Nurturing positive guest experiences to retain current customers and create new relationships is absolutely crucial to maintaining existing relationships and making new consumer ones. You never know when an opportunity will present itself that leads to making a deep impact with a customer, and you won't be able to have that effect if you aren't prepared.

Author Note - The dealership mentioned in this story as having provided the exceptional guest experience is Vin Devers Autohaus, located in Sylvania, OH.