Re-defining the Customer-Centric Approach

Customers are at the center of the sale.

Customer-CentricMind-blown? We didn’t think so. 

We all know that customers’ reactions to your products and services determine the success of your business. History has shown that there are two distinct strategies you can adopt in response to that reality. First, you can set out to create a better product, to convince the customer that they need it. Second, you can decide to understand your customer, to solve their key challenges with your product/service.

Many have argued that the clear answer is the 2nd choice- understand your customer. However, it’s a little more complex than you’d think. In fact, customers often have trouble communicating what they want because they cannot visualize a solution that doesn’t exist. Steve Jobs quickly learned that most people didn’t know what they wanted until it was shown to them. Take the iPhone, for example. So how do you predict how customers are going to react so that you can both satisfy and surprise them? Feedback, industry trends, and consumer co-creation.

As brands become increasingly commoditized and competition fiercer, keeping and expanding customer relationships depends on the ability to deliver a customer experience tailored to changing customer needs and values and consistent with the brand promise.”



Disclaimer: Customer feedback does not provide you with a direct answer; it is merely a prompt. Remember what we said earlier about customers not always knowing exactly what they want from your business? Use trial and error to create a solution that builds on their input.

For example, let’s say a valued customer complained about her wait in the service line. Your first impulse will likely be to improve efficiency. However, it is important to get to the root of the customer’s concern. Why not create an app that allows her to view wait times or reserve an appointment knowing how many cars are in front of her? The difference between these two solutions is that the 2nd one addresses the reason that customer was so upset in the first place- her experience was not what she expected.

Manage your online reputation so that comment cards, phone calls, online submissions, spoken word, social media, blogs, and video responses are all used to shape your strategy. In each of these, customers have planted a seed; your goal should be to complete the customer’s thought.

Industry Trends

It is important to remember that customers provide feedback according to what they know. And what they know includes their experiences at other dealerships- and in other industries! Did you know that there are 196.6 million online shoppers in the United States? How might this influence how an individual shops at your dealership? Set your dealership apart as one that is not restricted by automotive shopping norms.

Industry statistics and data in helps you to better predict the trends within your market. That way your dealership can have a better grasp on what inventory to stock and what features to pursue. Educating your customers using an inbound marketing strategy helps them understand how your vehicles address their concerns- safety, ease of use, reliability, etc.

Consumer Co-Creation

Consumer co-creation is essentially the process of telling your customer you want their help. Invite your customers to contribute toward the development of new product ideas, service concepts, brand development ideas, and promotional ideas. Companies such as Coca-Cola, Microsoft, FedEx and GE have all tapped into the insights of their customers.

MIT’s Eric Von Hippel and the Institute of Management Sciences conducted a study of 1193 commercially successful innovations across 9 industries and discovered that 60% came from customers. Takeaway: Learn together with your customers.

How does your dealership address your customer’s key challenges?