You Got Me At "Hello"
By Katie Mares CTDP, MCATD, CPSA, CSP
A customer’s favorite pick up line is…wait for it…"hello!"
And if you can use their name in that same moment, you say hello you have their undivided attention!
In a study I conducted, I surveyed female customers who had purchased a car within the last 1-2 years. The results were not shocking as I know that the female consumer is not fairly attended to like a male consumer is. However, what I did find was this: 100% of the responders that completed the shopping experience with a male counterpart stated that the man was greeted first. Let me repeat that number, 100%!
Not too long ago, my husband and I decided that our growing family needed a second car and that shopping experience proved to be a very similar experience to the respondents of my survey.
I was excited to look around, breathe in the new car smell, and consider the prospect of driving away that day in a new vehicle. My husband and I walked into the dealership, he was approached by a salesperson almost as immediately as he’d entered, but no one acknowledged me. Not being greeted or being attended to (among other reasons) was why I set out to inspire positive, actionable change in the automotive industry.
Low Hanging Fruit
I am not shy to say that the stigma the automotive industry holds is less than stellar. The experience provided by dealerships from technology to the ability to read customer’s needs and adjust the experience to meet those needs is stuck in the dinosaur age. And the gender inequality is not any better!
I know change is hard and technology costs lots of money and time to implement well; which is why most dealerships shy away from making the changes required to turn the current disjointed and inconsistent customer service into an exceptional and unexpected Brand Experience.
Because dealers are slow to move and change the stigma and perception of the industry is also reluctant to change in the eyes of your customers, especially the female customers. However, the beauty of the perceptions customers have of dealerships is that you don’t have to do much to impress your customers as they already have low expectations going into the dealership, both to buy a car or get their car serviced. There is so much low hanging fruit I am sure you don’t know where to start! Every time I work with a dealership I feel like a kid in a candy store! There is so much opportunity and the changes don’t have to be a massive overhaul to make a big difference.
If you can’t decide where to start, start with hello! 100% of the females who took my survey said that their male counterpart was greeted first. Want to impress your female customers, start small, and say hello to her first!
If a couple walks into a dealership to look at cars (or get service done) all you have to do is say hi to the female customer first. Greeting her will make a HUGE difference of the impression she has of you and your dealership. She will instantly feel included and of value.
That’s it; you can start to change the perception of your dealership in the eyes of your female consumers by one simple word; hello, hey, hi etc.… To take it one step further, find out her name and use it throughout the interaction and when they exit the dealership say goodbye to BOTH of them using their name.
Dale Carnegie states that “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. Your customers will instantly connect with you if you take a moment and pick the low hanging fruit that sits right in your reach; it won’t even take much of the ‘change’ we are all so afraid of to make a big difference.
Be Daring; Make More Significant Changes
On the other end of a small amount of change is, well, more significant change. If you are a little further along in the development of a Brand Experience, then this advice is for you.
The first and last impression is what stands out most to your customers, making the way you greet your customers and the way you say goodbye to your customer’s extremely important. If there was a hiccup along the customer's journey it could usually be smoothed out by the lasting impression and well the first impression sets the mood. There is one role in the dealership that deserves a lot of credit and a new title! The receptionist or ‘front desk’ is one of the most vital positions in the dealership and deserves a title to match their importance as they control the first and last impression the customer has of your dealership.
The Director of First and Lasting Impressions, is a much more antiquate description of just what these receptionists do. Giving the receptionist a new title will not only make your employee feel more important, they will also strive to do their best job and ensuring that the first and last impression stand out positively!
Beat the Greet!
If you are not ready to make a title change, try implementing the 15/5 rule into your dealership along with greeting your female customer first when shopping with a male counterpart.
Beat the greet by looking up and smiling at the approaching customers when they are 15 feet in front of you and say hello when they are 5 feet in front of you!
Whether you are ready for small change or significant change, start by perfecting your customer ‘pick up line’ and greet the female consumer first; show her she matters to you. If you want to take the experience in your dealership one step further emphasize the importance of the director of first and lasting impressions, and always beat the greet.
Get her at hello!
Katie Mares CTDP, MCATD, CPSA, CSP is available to train your organization and brings her expertise to the automotive industry. She is a dynamic speaker at Women in Automotive and Digital Dealer Conferences. Among her offerings:
- Program Development
- Brand Standards
- Leadership Development
- Coaching Sessions
- Retail Workshops
- In-Dealership Implementation
- Ongoing Support