September '15

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rv-pro.com SEPTEMBER 2015 • RV PRO • 111 airports, and hassle-free luggage handling – everything I couldn't dream of getting with Delta. When it acquired AirTran in 2010, Southwest sold the newer aircrafts and dis- continued in-flight radio, business class and assigned seating. However, it won over the elite frequent flyers with early boarding pri- ority, free in-flight adult beverages, and no baggage or change fees, along with on-time "fun" flights, and the best flight attendant crews in the industry. Need proof? Search for "World's Coolest Flight Attendant" on YouTube.com. Today, Southwest remains one of a few airlines that have been consistently profit- able since Sept. 11, 2001. In comparison, Delta had to file for a two-year, Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in 2005. Coin- cidence? I don't think so. Ways to Build Customer Loyalty Convinced you need to do something to take your customers beyond just being satisfied and nurture loyalty? You may want to try some of these suggestions: • Invest in listening training for your salespeople and any employee that comes in contact with customers on the phone or face-to-face. Listening is not just hearing the words a customer utters. It's being able to read the literal and informal cues a customer exhibits when first entering the business or at the beginning of the phone call. A good training video tape to con- sider is Charthouse International's "FISH! Catch the Energy. Release the Potential." It's available for sale or rent from www.charthouse.com and teaches the FISH philosophy toward treating customers: Play, Make Their Day, Be There and Choose Your Attitude. • Encourage your employees to get to know your customers on a personal level. Ask them about their likes, dis- likes, pastimes and/or vocations. Ask meaningful questions that are more open-ended and get to the "need behind the need" for the customer. For example, asking when the cus- tomer needs delivery of his RV is good, but asking "why is that date important?" helps gain an insight into the customer's circumstances. • Have your employees get caught going above and beyond the call of duty by confirming that the custom- er's expectations have been met in a respectful and consistent manner. Show them how to gauge customer satisfaction throughout the transac- tion. When you can get customers to verbalize how happy they were dealing with you, you improve your chances they will come back or refer one of their friends to you. Use the interaction opportunity to highlight the positive in the cus- tomers as well. If they did something to make your life easier, it generates a feeling that you work well together and they are likely to look forward to the next time you do business. • Teach your employees to up-sell, cross-sell, and provide additional information succinctly, as often as possible without appearing pushy. When you tie in a related item or ser- vice to a strong customer need, you stand to gain additional revenues and give the customer the impres- sion that your dealership has more to offer than just what they came in for initially. Final Thoughts In the future, customer service from most companies will continue to be stan- dardized, generic and mediocre. In fact, customer service will be further scrutinized to control costs and improve efficiencies. Don't follow the companies that make customer service an automated, faceless commodity. Be bold and create that Wow! experience for your customer early and often. Don't be tricked into thinking so- called "loyalty" programs – such as fre- quent-shopper awards and discounts – will promote customer loyalty. They typically don't. Instead, they invite customers to shop around and compare your competi- tor's "deal" to yours. Ultimately, in such a case, the cus- tomer wins and the seller with the lowest price loses. In contrast, you want to create a buying experience at your dealership that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. Have faith in the philosophy that "people buy from people who they like, trust and with whom it is convenient – a.k.a. a pleasure – to do business." Good luck! To build top-notch, lasting customer loyalty, teach your sales staff to actively listen to customers and encourage salespeople to get to know customers on a personal level.

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