The tree amongst the forest

It’s easy to look at the crown of a tree and be in awe of the leaves changing their colors and the expanse of its branches. We’re easily drawn in. However, the leaves don’t tell the whole story, nor do the rings throughout its center. The roots are most important to its development.

The roots expand throughout the surrounding earth, having little hairs that grasp onto individual particulates of the soil and bring in the necessary nutrients. They expand and connect with the soil until it creates a firm foundation to be protected from the effects of harsh weather.

Just as the leaves usually steal the show, we also tend to focus on what is flashy and ignore developing our roots. Just as the roots of the tree combine with the soil to create a firm foundation, we should become tightly bound to our communities.

Doing so starts at the core of our business by determining if we are willing to create a reason for customers to be loyal. While marketing strategies and sales tactics typically dominate the spotlight, the best course of action as we face a struggling economy may be less obvious – developing a great customer experience (CX) for the dealership.

According to Murphy & Murphy, companies that developed customer experience attributed up to 25% more retention and revenue than sales or marketing initiatives combined. Gartner revealed that over two-thirds of customer loyalty was driven by customer experience initiatives, McKinsey & Co. discovered that companies who pursued developing CX initiatives realized three times the shareholder returns than those who didn’t.

To develop customer experience, there are four steps:

  1. Identify opportunities to learn customers’ unstated, salient needs
  2. Create solutions on how we can make customers feel better about themselves
  3. Prioritize initiatives that allow us to be different than our competitors
  4. Build and Test implementations and learn from customer responses.

The goal is to create experiences that have lasting salient impressions, longer than three months. This requires being proactive, not just listening to immediate concerns. We know from recent YouGov data that consumers want honesty, transparency, and respect for their time, but that will only bring you to a desired status quo of expectations.

Think outside the box. Be Bold. Because if you want loyalty, you must earn it.

A great example is a small automotive group in Mishawaka, Indiana that developed a benefits program that incorporated their community, streamlined their in-store process, and gave an added benefit of protection for customers and their households. They stood out by taking care of their customers first. Their roots are woven throughout the fabric of the community, and they stand out from the larger groups surrounding them.

To build loyalty, it takes time and intentionality. Being serious about customer experience and finding ways to serve your communities will allow you to last the changing seasons.

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