Growing up, my Dad was always working. We didn’t have a typical father-son relationship. So when he asked me to come work with him 2 years ago, there was a chance for it to go terribly wrong. I definitely thought we were going to butt heads. He hired me to market the business he had been growing for 12 years...no pressure.
The single best thing I’ve done for the business: I walked through every step of the business as a customer. And this is how we’ve created a customer experience that not only keeps existing customers happy, but attracts new customers every day.
Not everyone reading this will be in the automotive industry, like us. That said, these tips can be applied across all service industry businesses. Let’s get to it.
1. Think inside the box: how can you improve your customer’s experience?
It’s one thing to view your company as the business owner and assume what your customers are thinking - but it’s another to walk through the business, as a customer. And you know what? It’s the little things that make for an above-average customer experience.
For example, in our business people have to wait for their car to be appraised. So I thought if I had to do the waiting, what would I want to make it an enjoyable experience?
- We have a comfortable waiting area with coffee, tea, soda, etc.
- We have chargers for every type of phone you could ask for.
- On Saturdays (always our busiest day) we have someone run out and get pastries or donuts because we know that spending your Saturday in an office to sell your car isn’t the most fun.
- We treat our customers like we’re friends. And we always say goodbye, call them an Uber and walk them to the car when the appointment is over.
Consider this: if you were a customer of your business, how could your experience be more enjoyable?
It's the little things that add up to make it a pleasant customer experience. How do I know it was worth it? Those little things are enough to push it over the edge and get a customer to write a review. Which brings me to my next point.
2. Let the customer do the talking:
We always ask customers, “how did you hear about us”? And they usually say through online reviews. Reviews have become more and more important because they allow customers to share the experience they had with us and then act as calling cards for potential new customers.
Pro tip: Timing your NiceJob review requests is important. I make it a point to send the request when the customer is on the way home, right after their experience with us. At this point, I know they’re happy because they sold us their car and they have time to write a review in the Uber/Lyft. Not everyone using NiceJob reading this is in the same industry, so think hard about when the ideal time to send a review request is for your customers.
We make review requests intentional, we respond to them, and take feedback this way. Happy customers appreciate the opportunity to share their thoughts and leave reviews.
3. Think outside the box: How can you go the extra mile to keep customers happy?
If you can go out of your way to help your customers, they will appreciate it. Part of what makes our customers happy is offering to help OUTSIDE of the services that we offer. Hear me out:
For example, a lot of customers who sell us their cars then ask “what car should I get next?” or “do you think I’m getting a good deal on this car?". Our appraisers will contact their connections to try and get the customer in a car they want for the price they want. And while we don’t make a penny doing this, the customer is happy that we took care of them.
Is there an outside the box idea that can keep your customers happy?
I recognize that short reviews are punchy, tight, and concise. They can communicate important information with less scrolling and less reading. They leave room for other content, which may also result in a higher conversion rate.
4. Transparency makes for happy customers:
We know we aren’t the only place in town. Competition is out there and at the end of the day they could be offering a better option to the customer. We know customers are going to shop around; we actually advise them to go elsewhere, get offers and send them to us. If we can beat it, we’ll tell them to come in. And if we can’t, we’re always transparent and will tell the customer that they should take the better option. When I see the messages between our staff and potential customers in this scenario, the customers are always appreciative that we’re honest and don’t waste their time. Even if this potential customer decides to go with the competition, I know we’ve left them with a good impression. They may even tell their friends!
Oh! And creating a memorable customer experience has paid off in more ways than one. My Dad and I have a newfound respect for one another. He saw my work ethic and what I’m trying to do to grow the business he worked so hard to build - we’re closer than we’ve ever been.
About the author: Blake Bijari is the marketing director at Trade-In Solutions in Los Angeles, California.