AutoPoint Blog

The Zappos Approach to Customer Service

Posted by Manuel Soto Friday, May 31, 2013

What is your biggest asset?  Is it your impressive floor plan, the lineup of new inventory you have on your lot or is it your employees, customers and service that matter most?  In an industry where a significant amount of emphasis is still placed on units sold, I challenge you to rethink your approach to business.  Customer service and brand management are your biggest assets and it is imperative that you dedicate attention there in order to be recognized as a great place to do business.

Without great customer service, whether it’s provided by your sales or service team, the receptionist or even your shuttle driver, your brand suffers.  Consumers have lots of choice; and they have become extremely savvy as to who they engage in business with.  So you need to provide an experience that is positively memorable and encourages them to share the experience with others, and come back for more.  To quote Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, an industry leader of online shoe and clothing retail, “You need to deliver WOW through service".

Service is the heart of any business.  Getting people to make the initial purchase is one thing, sustaining the business takes work and dedication.  And this work doesn’t have to be hard or tiresome.  Try some simple acts of kindness, like greeting your customers at their vehicle when they roll in for service, offering a relaxed environment to stroll through your lot while shopping for their new vehicle. Or even making a point to be proactive and stay connected to your customers throughout the day via phone, text, email or personal websites, to give them a heads up on the progress of their vehicle service, can go a long way into “wowing” them.

Quality customer service should be at the forefront of your corporate values and mission statement.  We can all learn a great deal from the experiences we have from businesses like Zappos.  Zappos employees are encouraged to spend as much time as they need with their phones customers, make recommendations, and even direct them to a competitor’s website if they are out of inventory of the product that the customer really wants to buy.  Sending a customer down the road is a very unsettling idea. However, offering to service that vehicle throughout the ownership lifecycle is a great opportunity to continue to earn the loyalty from that customer.  Don’t just send them down the road empty handed.  Offer them the same opportunities to participate in your loyalty programs, recognize them on their birthdays/anniversaries and continue to send your mail offers.  Don’t lose the connection or the opportunity to provide great service.  Transparency is a key element that can be pivotal in building your brand and customer loyalty.

To reinforce this customer first culture, regular quick-tip meetings with your entire staff is a good way to make sure everyone understands your mission and vision.  Dedicating 10-to-15 minutes a day or week to go over your key customer service points is a method to ensure everyone understands the business culture and how to best service every customer or potential customer that walks through your doors.  Fostering a positive environment can naturally be reflective in how your customers feel welcomed when they visit your dealership.

As a side note, if you ever come to Las Vegas (whether it’s for work or pleasure) and can pry yourself away from the intoxication of the ringing sounds from the slot machines, flashing lights and fascination of the elaborate casinos, I encourage you to drive to Henderson where Zappos is headquartered… which incidentally is just a few miles from MPi’s headquarter.  Zappos offers tours to individuals and businesses to come and meet their dedicated team members, get a glimpse into their culture and offers free resources that you can take back to your office to create your own wow factor.  Because MPi is so close in proximity to Zappos’s office, my staff has taken advantage of this opportunity on numerous occasions.  Each time they visit, they return with great ideas about how we can foster a customer first approach to our business.  And we’ve implemented them.  MPi is known for the highest level of customer care in our market space as we work hard to live by our motto: “customers come first”.

Now is the time to get creative with your approach to service and put your customers first so they are customers for life.


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