Sewell Cadillac has been operating in Texas since 1911. Its success is largely due to the Sewell family’s obsession with customer service.
The customer is not always right, but the Sewells cheerfully accommodate picky clients in order to win their long-term loyalty. Bending over backwards on the little things pays big dividends. Carl Sewell, the founder’s son, is the author of “Customers for Life: How to Turn That One-Time Buyer Into a Lifetime Customer.” Carl surely knows what he’s talking about; many Texas Cadillac drivers have never shopped at any other dealership.
The Sewells aren’t marketing geniuses or especially charismatic salespeople. They just treat their customers like royalty, and the customers love them for it.
- Get Real
Technology is a wonderful thing unless your customers can’t reach a human being. Since relationships are at the heart of customer retention, providing direct, easy access to your service agents is crucial.
Company representatives should be warm and genuine. They should have the knowledge and professionalism to convince your customers that they’re in capable hands. They may not be able to solve every problem right away, but they should be good at demonstrating care.
- Be All Ears
Giving clients your full attention not only makes them feel respected, but it provides you with valuable information. By listening to customers, you can find out what’s working and what’s not. You can find out what their expectations are and seek ways to improve. You can learn more about the demographics of your customer base.
No news is sometimes bad news. It’s estimated that more than 90 percent of unhappy customers take their business elsewhere rather than call to complain. If that’s true, then you’d do well to proactively seek their input instead of waiting for them to call.
- Make It Personal
Fifty-one percent of service teams say that personalized service is the second top priority in creating optimal customer experience.
If your technology is capable of tracking birthdays, personal preferences, purchase history and other customer specifics, don’t let it go to waste. Targeted marketing is just one benefit of having personal details at your fingertips. The ability to truly know your customers and anticipate their needs is even more valuable.
Steve Jobs wasn’t particularly known for customer service tips, but this one’s a gem: “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”
If you go out of your way to offer a certain client something that you know he’ll love, he will feel that he truly matters to you.
- Whatever It Is, Fix It
You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to respond well when customers point out that you’re not.
Don’t make excuses. Instead, take ownership of problems and make a firm commitment to resolving them. Treat every complaint as though your future success depended on how you handle it. It does.
Every representative should know your products and serviceslike the back of his hand. Arriving at a solution, however, sometimes requires the expertise of a supervisor or someone in another department. The customer should be introduced to the next agent. How his complaint will be handled from that point should be explained. If you really want to wow a client, schedule a follow-up call to ensure that he’s satisfied.
- Stand Out
This is one of the most overlooked customer service tips. Being pretty good but unmemorable is almost as bad as being awful.
Meeting expectations doesn’t cut it anymore. In order to stand out in clients’ minds, you must exceed their expectations.
Show your appreciation. Offer rewards and discounts to loyal customers. Never stop thanking them for their business. You can do this in a handwritten note or email, but make it personal.
Make customers happy. You may grit your teeth when you ask them what you can do to keep their business, but ask anyway.
The Sewell dealership spends a lot of time and money appeasing difficult clients. Compared to selling a guy five Cadillacs over his lifetime, the cost of letting the customer be right is a drop in the bucket.
You wouldn’t have a business without customers. Keep that in mind, and they’ll love you for it.