Apr 17 2019
I had just arrived home from speaking at a conference, and had a 24 hour turn around before I needed to get back on another plane to coach 200+ leaders. As a frequent guest on Air Canada air crafts, I experience jet lag on a regular basis. However, this instance was a particularly intense case (given the 10 flights I had taken within the last 15 days). I went to check in to my flight to San Juan and was offered an upgrade to business class for a small fee. Feeling tired and wanting to be pampered on my 5+ hour flight, I opted in to the upgrade. I entered all the appropriate information only to get a message stating that the upgrade was no longer available. Disappointed (and knowing that technology isn’t always reliable) I exited out of the Air Canada App and tried again; no bueno. Same message.
I was running around trying to complete some errands before my Saturday morning flight, and didn’t have the time or patience to deal with this. I did however want comfort, so I called customer service.
The Call for Help
I called into the elite customer service line, which had a 22 minute wait time; I opted to be called back. Once I got the call back, the young man on the other end asked how he could help. I proceeded to tell him my situation and without a pause he said he could not help me. Just like that- there is nothing I can do for you. “Try again” he said “maybe on a computer this time,” and with that, the conversation was over.
So I tried again. No success. You can imagine how frustrated I felt at this point. I couldn’t give them my money and all I wanted was some help.
The Bad Outweighs the Good
It is said that it takes 12 positive interactions to make up for one negative interaction. From a customer stand point, each time there is a service failure you have to work 12x harder to make up for it. Let’s count how many negative interactions I had in this one instance with Air Canada technology and personnel: two tries on a faulty app, a phone call with no help, care, or compassion, and another 5 attempts on my computer. That is a total of 8 negative interactions with this brand in one afternoon. At this point my trust account with Air Canada was in the negative.
When you are in service recovery mode, it is so important that you make it right the first time to regain the trust of your customer.
Unfortunately technology doesn’t always work, yet it replaces the need for human interference and correction. Is your team prepared to help when technology fails?
A Second Call
Now I was angry, so I did what any other customer would do; call the customer service line again thinking there must be a way to make the upgrade on their end.
Another 25 minute wait, and I finally got in touch with a lovely customer service representative. She was delightful and very helpful. She listened, said she was sorry, and worked every back-end possibility to help me. Finally, I had success! She was able to secure my upgrade, charge me, and email the confirmation all in a friendly and genuine manner.
When I hung up the phone I couldn’t help but ask myself; why couldn’t the first customer service representative do that for me? He would’ve saved me hours of frustration and kept my trust with the brand intact.
Lessons to Learn from this Story
As a customer experience expert in designing and training CX programs, the answer came quite quickly to me; there is a lack of consistency in the hiring, training, and delivery of their service recovery program. Here are a few take-a-ways that will help you increase your customer’s trust in your brand.
1. Develop a Service Recovery System
Service Recovery is an integral part of the guest’s experience; how we handle a service failure is equally as important as delivering your brand standards. Service Recovery is a thought-out, well planned process that returns dissatisfied customers to a state of satisfaction and trust with your brand. Your service Recovery System should also be an experience just as your primary brand standards are. The goal: to have your customers be delighted with the memory of the fix; so much so that they can’t even remember the problem.
2. Train for Consistency
Consistency will set you apart from your competition. On the flip side, inconsistency can kill the trust your customers have with your brand. Keeping in mind that it takes 12 positive interactions to make up for one negative interaction, it is in your company’s best interest to ensure consistency in the delivery of your brand standards and service recovery system. Had Air Canada’s first customer service representative done what the second one did for me I would have been delighted, and trust would have remained intact. We live in a fast paced world filled with inconsistency; to keep your customer’s trust and loyalty, you must give them what the rest of the world doesn’t. You need to be reliable and consistent.
3. Follow up
If you want to show you care and truly wow your customers, follow up with them to ensure they are satisfied and thank them for their loyalty. Showing you care goes a long way in restoring a customer’s trust and faith in your brand, yet it is a step in the customer service recovery journey that is most often overlooked.
If you want to keep your customer’s trust after a service failure, then you must develop a service recovery system that your people will have no problem consistently delivering; every customer, every time.
Feb 14 2019
Do you remember the first time you fell in love?
I remember the first time I fell in love. I was 15 years old and was head over heels for my hockey player boyfriend. Right before I would meet him, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach, my sweaty palms, the goosebumps on my arms, when I felt the excitement walk around the corner of our high school hallway.
Do you remember similar feelings of falling in love for the first time? Because if you do, then you understand the way your customers feel when they fall in love with your brand!
The chemical reactions that happen inside you when falling in love are the same chemical reactions women have while shopping. It’s simple; it’s science!
Let me lead you through the journey to falling in love…
As a women-centric business, you want women to fall in love with your brand and emotionally attach themselves to your brand.
There are three chemicals that are released inside a woman’s body when she is shopping:
Well, for those who don’t know, these are the same chemicals released when you fall for someone!
According to Harvard University, dopamine is a chemical produced by our brain that plays a starring role in motivating behavior. It gets released when we take a bite of delicious food, when we have sex, after we exercise, and, importantly, when we have successful social interactions. In an evolutionary context, it rewards us for beneficial behaviors and motivates us to repeat them.
When your experience focuses on the interaction a female consumer has with you, Dopamine is released. This chemical release leads to her desire to repeat these repetitive interactions with your brand. Shopping is, indeed, addictive!
Serotonin is also known as the “happiness chemical”, which plays a role in how a person feels about things. Creating an experience that stimulates happy feelings will, in turn, stimulate the release of Serotonin. The goal here is to send a woman on a journey filled with positive stimuli. This way she feels happy throughout her experience with your brand.
Oxytocin (the bonding hormone) is released the same way while shopping as it does when falling in love. This hormone affects women more rigorously. Women want to connect with your brand and when you take the experience you offer to one step further and create a relationship with your consumers, you are entering a bonding zone. Once she has bonded with your brand, she is bound to be fiercely loyal.
Why do you want the decision maker (she) to fall in love with your brand?
So why should you take out time to tailor your Consumer Brand Experience for female consumers?
Women are the Chief Purchasing Officers for their households and the most influential consumers in the world. According to Inclusionary Leadership Group,
Women influence 83% of all consumer spending in the United States, which is worth $7 trillion annually.
Not only do they hold the veto vote on the majority of purchasing decisions, but also can be your number one referral source!
Most businesses don’t take this customer segment seriously and do not invest in enough resources to tailor the experience a woman receives when doing business with them.
Further, according to author Bridget Brennen, men make up 85% of the executives of the world! This gap between who buys and who designs the customer experience is enormous. The brand experience is ultimately created by men who are physiologically different from women.
It’s about the chase!
I am going to let you in on a little secret; it’s not about the product she buys. What matters is the journey she takes when she interacts with your brand. It is the chase she enjoys!
It is about the little moments when she connects with your brand and creates a relationship with you that dictates whether or not she’ll choose to do business with you again.
Much like the notation of ‘Retail Therapy’, women tend to go out when they are having a bad day or feeling down for some retail therapy. I know this is something that is made fun of in movies and books, but there is some truth to it.
Women feel better when they journey through a mall, they get little hits of dopamine and release of serotonin; turning their not so great day into a better one (until she gets her credit card bill that is!)
Brands can learn from this habit of retail therapy. She will have hits of dopamine and serotonin and if you do a really good job, she will start to create a bond with your brand. Examining the journey your female consumer takes with your brand and tweaking it to include all the little moments that make her fall in love with your product or service is in your best interest!
How women’s buying behavior is different from those of men?
There are behavioral differences between men and women and their expectations from interacting with the brand. These differences can be scientifically linked to the physiological differences between men and women.
Both the genders are different and it’s up to you to identify how to tailor an experience that works for both men and women. In my experience, if you build a brand experience, keeping women in mind, men should be ok with it. However, if you build an experience for the male customer, the female consumer will not like it in the slightest. I always urge my clients to build their experience with the woman in mind.
Research shows the size of a female’s limbic brain (the part of the brain that controls emotions and memory) is double the size of a man’s brain.
We don’t make decisions based on logic; rather, we make decisions based on our feelings. Drawing physiological differences between men and women are important. Women need to feel good about interacting with your brand.
Conversations are the glue that binds women from an early age and women are master communicators. They use both sides of their brain to communicate while men only use one. Women want a relationship with your brand and she needs to be able to communicate how she’s feeling and what she wants and expects from your brand.
Letting the female consumer communicate with your brand goes a long way to creating an experience that she enjoys having. So you should utilize every opportunity to communicate with her over multiple channels; be it social media, live chat, help desk or surveys.
Three tips to make the Decision Maker fall in love with your brand/business.
Here are three tips you can implement to help nudge her down the path of falling in love with your brand:
1. Understand the decision maker
The female consumer wants to be understood as a woman first and a consumer second.Typical age/sex and other demographics aren’t adequate for segmenting and creating a consumer persona. You’ll need to break your female consumers into life stages; the ’40s are the new ’30s and the ’30s are the new ’20s; women are getting married later in life and having kids in their late ’40s.
Once you have your female customer broken down into life stages, you will want to define the goals she has and the challenges she faces at each life stage. You will now be able to determine how your brand and its services can help her fulfill her dreams and resolve the challenges.
2. Journey through her eyes
We experience approximately 20,000 moments in a day and we determine whether we’ve had a good or bad day based on the number of positive, neutral, and negative moments we have. Our brain then sidelines neutral moments ( as they leave no impact) and we hold on to the good or bad.
If your customers have had more bad moments before they interact with your brand you can almost guarantee their day is already off to a “bad start”. Don’t you want to be the highlight of their day? Be the reason their day goes from “bad” to “good” or “good to great”?
The only way to ensure this is to provide the decision maker with an experience that speaks to her; you need to see from her viewpoint and develop the experience from that point of view.
For example, women will pay 32% more in a hedonic atmosphere. Ask your female employees, what experience they look for and use that to start journeying through her eyes; to design an experience that she can fall in love with.
3. Create Real Relationships
Relationships are very real and important to the female consumer. This is when oxytocin is released; through a connection. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone, and it feels good for the female consumer to create relationships that lead to trust, relationship, and loyalty.Remember she holds purchasing influence for 3-4 generations in her household, most of who are your future customers. If you fail to establish a relationship with her, you will have access to no customers.
The Bottom Line
No matter what you do, be consistent. The female consumer wants to know she can rely on you and you are a trusted friend (or loved one☺). Build up your trust account with your female consumer through consistency in the experience you provide her. And if all else fails, remember what it was like to fall in love, you already know how you need to make her feel. Your goal is to help her fall in love with your brand. If she does, she’ll be a brand loyal for life and her friends and family follows.
Dec 19 2018
The best way I can describe ‘customer service’ is by using the word transaction. ‘Service’ is what we do, it is a product or the transaction to receive the product. According to dictionary.com an experience is:
“a particular instance of personally encountering or undergoing something: or the observing, encountering, or undergoing of things generally as they occur in the course of time.”
In other words, an experience is an interaction between a business and a customer that happens while the customer journeys through your business.
So, What is a Five-Star Experience?
A five-star experience is often noted as ‘luxurious’ or ‘expensive,’ maybe even unattainable to most organizations. In actuality, a five-star experience has nothing to do with cost or luxury at all. A five-star experience can be achieved in any organization regardless of the industry, but requires your people to be…well, nice people! It requires the use of emotional intelligence and very little investment, essentially turning the transactional service currently being provided into an interactional experience that customers will enjoy and remember.
Here are five tips to create a five-star experience!
1. Use a Friendly Tone of Voice
We’ve all heard the adage ‘It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,’ right? This couldn’t be more important or true when it comes to the customer’s experience. How we verbally send a message will dictate how the customer receives the message. When interacting with customers, it is very important to watch the tone of your voice. This is especially important when conversing with a customer on the phone. They can’t see your expressions, but they can hear if you are smiling or not. Practice roleplaying with your team, give them a scenario, and focus on the tone of their voice.
2. Use Their Name
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnage.
Using a customer’s name not only shows respect, but is the most important word you can use to create a connection with your customer. You’ll read a lot about using the customer’s name in articles written about how to provide a personalized experience. Often it is the hardest for employees to execute. Here’s the thing, the customer doesn’t expect you to somehow magically know their name. They do, however, expect you to use it as soon as you get it, and once you know it, use it often.
3. Show Genuine Interest
We make decisions out of the ‘feelings we have’ not the facts and figures that are presented to us. Humans crave connection and will stop doing business with you if 1. No one attempts to make a connection and 2. If a person is disingenuous when trying to make a connection. Customers want you to authentically engage and show interest in them. The 80/20 rule applies here. Let the customer talk 80% of the time because you have spent 20% of the time with them asking questions and showing genuine interest. Doing this will only set you up for success, as you will now be able to anticipate their needs.
4. Be Anticipatory
A customer doesn’t want to have to work hard to get their needs met when undergoing an experience. It is your job to anticipate the needs of your customers and know what they want or need before they tell you. Paying attention to what they say and remembering their preferences will help your team anticipate your customer’s needs.
5. Be Knowledgeable
Last, but not least, you must be the expert in what you do and the product you provide your customers. I’m not talking about knowing the bare minimum about your product or service, but to know more than what the customer knows about your product or service. When providing a five-star experience, you must know more than what is printed on marketing material, your website, or social channels. The customer has already looked at all those avenues and has decided to do business with you! When they walk through your doors and ask a question, they want to hear what they haven’t already read or heard about already. Becoming an expert and matching your knowledge to the needs of your customer will go a long way in establishing creditability and trust.
A five-star experience can be achieved in any organization regardless of the industry, but requires your people to be genuine, anticipatory, knowledgable, and friendly. Transforming your mind set (and that of your team) from customer ‘service’ to customer ‘experience’ will also aide in the execution of these insights, and take your customer experience to the next level.
Dec 12 2018
I had the honour of attending the Celebrity Edge Naming Ceremony and Global Conference this past week. It was an overwhelming wave of emotions spread out over an eight-day period. There was one common theme that was weaved throughout the entire experience, and that was the sheer purpose, passion, and pride that each individual had for this company. As I sat in the audience on the last day of the conference while the President and CEO gave her closing remarks, tears of pride flowed down my cheeks. Pride toward being part of an organization that stands for so much more than great results. Pride toward the gratitude she had for every single person that contributes to their success, and pride toward her belief that extraordinary people can achieve extraordinary things; making the impossible possible.
Purpose, Passion, and Pride
I have read many great business books that try to describe the difference between good companies and extraordinary companies; all of which describe how organizations like Amazon, Apple, and Zappos deliver exceptional experiences and results for their employees, customers, and shareholders. This past week gave me a first-hand experience of an organization that not only yields great results, but one that has depth, inspiration and a culture unlike any other.
In the moments I got to watch, listen, and speak on stage, it dawned on me that it is the purpose of an organization that creates one common goal. It is the Passion of its people that unites each individual employee into one team, and it is the pride of this team that propels them to do what needs to be done to garner success.
A Purpose Driven Culture
If you have set out to achieve extraordinary results, then you will want to reflect on the culture of your organization. Ask yourself; Do you have a clearly defined purpose? Are your people passionate about your purpose? And does your team live your purpose with pride? Below is why each one of these areas are so important in developing a culture that is unified around one goal, and a team that works as one to achieve these goals.
Why a company does what it does is far more important than the results it yields. It is the purpose that drives these results and the people’s belief in the organization. A strong purpose allows an organization to go beyond typical success; it is the path of significance. If you want your organization to leave a mark on this world, then drive your decisions through your purpose. Having an unwavering purpose not only takes a company down a path to significance, it’s a single focus for all employees to rally around and be passionate about. It is your purpose that will draw in the right employees that will work harder for you, that will promote you and be brand evangelists. A company’s purpose creates a common goal that all team members will work to achieve.
An unnerving passion to drive the purpose of the company creates a unified team. I have always said, a leader without followers is just someone taking a walk; a company without purpose and passion will struggle to create followers and achieve significance or even success. Hire those that are passionate about why you do what you do. Influence and inspire them to drive your purpose and create one team that is focused on one goal. Passion is the fire that ignites your company’s purpose. Do you have passionate people willing to walk behind you?
Being part of something bigger than yourself is an exhilarating feeling. Being part of a team that is working together to achieve a purpose causes an individual to be proud of what they are contributing to. Pride for what they do and who they do it for is the start of creating brand evangelists. When a team is proud of the results they achieve for a company that embodies a common purpose, they tend to work harder, longer, and more purposefully. It is the pride someone has for their work that turns a team into a family, and a culture like that is unstoppable. Are your team members proud to work for you or your organization? Do you have brand evangelists?
One Goal, One Team
If you want to achieve extraordinary results, then you must build a culture driven by purpose, passion, and pride.
As those tears streamed down my face, I realized just how lucky I was to be part of an organization that is driven by purpose first, cultivates passion within the hearts of its people, and nurtures a sense of pride in everything they do. If you want to set out to make the impossible possible, start with a Purpose Driven Culture.
Sep 13 2018
Raise your hands or nod your head if you have ever gone into a brick and mortar store with your kids and they decided to run around, talk loudly (or yell), and climb things they shouldn’t (insert emoji with hand raised here). It can be (and often is) frustrating and embarrassing. This was precisely what happened to me as we entered Home Sense last Monday.
It was a hot and humid Monday evening. The last week of summer break and the week before my sister’s wedding. Our house is the house that plays host to almost every family gathering and the night before my sister’s wedding was not an exception. As usual, I took on more than I could chew but loved every minute of it as there is nothing more important than the love and time spent with family.
Because we were hosting 40 people at our house, it was also time to get my butt into gear and finish decorating our newly renovated main floor. The Monday before the party I dragged my poor little girls all over the city to find just the right nick knacks for our living room and paintings for our walls. Women tend to do this frequently; take on more than they need to, to ensure the happiness of their family. That day I was not an exception to the rule.
We were in and out of stores, and our last stop was Home Sense. As a woman, mom, wife, and Brand Experience Expert, with a female focus, I am very perceptive to the shopping experiences I have and how well they cater to the Decision Maker; the woman and all the little nuances she expects in a shopping experience. My last experience that day was the most trying and the best all at the same time.
An Empowered Team
My girls had had enough of in and out of stores and were kicking into boredom high gear. As soon as we entered the store, my girls bolted off and ran around as I popped in and out of the aisles in search for the perfect décor and paintings; playing a game of Marco Polo with my girls except is was “Ela, Riley” so I could hear that they were close to me. The experience was going smoothly until I heard Riley scream.
There she lay face down on the floor; she had tripped. I put the five items that were in my arms down and rushed to her. Riley’s lip was bleeding, and she was crying hysterically. I felt embarrassed and so sorry that this happened to my sweet girl. Instantly (as most moms do) I started to beat myself up about the situation, and at that moment, something wonderfully unexpected happened; in swooped the Home Sense team.
The manager came over and helped me in the bathroom. They helped calm Riley and gave her a freeze to keep the swelling down on her lip while making it fun for her. They also made sure Ela got the same ‘fun’ treatment. Once Riley was calm, they collected the items I had put down in a rush to my daughter and took me directly to the end register bypassing the big line. The team rang me in quickly and carried everything out to my car and through the whole process made me feel better (or not as bad) about the situation.
This situation got me to thinking; are companies prepared to handle situations that are not their fault? Do they empower their team members to make it right? And do they take into consideration the customer in front of them?
Although many organizations strive to have the basics of customer service down pat; like greeting, asking the customer if they need help, or using their name; not many organizations focus on how to create a great experience out of a bad situation. Further to that; do you know how to tailor your Brand Experience to the Decision Maker; the Woman?
I challenge you to answer these questions:
- Is your organization and its team prepared to handle situations that are not your fault? If so what tools do you provide them to empower them to offer an exceptional and unexpected experience out of a bad situation?
- Are you prepared to serve your female consumers? Have you ever flipped the lens and seen the shopping journey through her eyes?
- With women holding 80-90% influence of all purchasing decisions and doing the majority of the shopping for their homes, is your team trained in EQ so they can ensure the experience the decision maker has in your brick and mortar store leaves a positive lasting impression?
If your answer is no to one or more of these questions you might want to look at the tools and training you give your team members so they can turn transactions into interactions and create a memorable experience; even out of a bad situation. I also urge you to take a female-focused approach as you make changes to elevate your customer experience.
I thank the team at Home Sense that day. Not only did I get everything I needed, but they also earned my loyalty through an experience that I will be forever grateful. I know that I can take my kids there and they will take care of us.
Jun 13 2018
It wasn’t that long ago that the Automotive Industry underwent and survived a crisis. I believe we will be facing similar challenges if we don’t re-wire the way we think and how we approach the service experience. The service department is the backbone of the dealership, without its revenue our margins would be tighter than they already are.
A Cox Automotive Maintenance and Repair Study revealed that 57% of dealerships say that service retention is their primary concern, and it should be.
Customers Have Choice
Our customers have a choice; the Decision Maker has a variety of oil and filter retailers she can visit. Let ‘s face it; she is going to dictate where each family vehicle gets serviced.
If you want The Chief Purchasing Officer to choose you, you must recognize that she doesn’t need you, you need her. If you want her to pick you, you must turn decade’s old transactional service into an interaction.
In the same study, results showed that 86% of dealerships say they do not have a system that facilitates a superior customer experience; this is a problem. How can you expect your team to deliver on your customer’s expectations if you don’t provide them with the tools they need to be successful? You must provide them with a simple system they can follow and adapt to each customer they interact with each day. Technology is great, but not necessary to make change happen now. With or without technology, you can turn the current service transaction on its head with a simple system your service team can follow.
To continue reading this article on The Centre for Performace Improvement; Click Here
May 30 2018
Editors note: This is the fifth article in a series called The Decision Maker
Although the auto Industry is slowly moving away from attracting and hiring the typical ‘car guy’, and towards more customer service-focused employees, including women, the change isn’t happening fast enough to keep up the increased expectations of your male and female consumers. The only way to combat this is to train for EQ!
Until we can make the industry an attractive place to work, training for EQ is our best bet for creating more positive moments when interacting with our customers, especially the female consumer.
What is EQ?
EQ is that good stuff like having self-awareness, listening skills, and empathy. Emotional intelligence is having the capacity to blend thinking and feeling to make optimal decisions —It’s critical to building your sales to women. One of the main reasons women walk out is because they don’t like the way they were approached or treated.
Sales associates with high EQ can read people’s nonverbal cues and adjust their approach based on the needs of each consumer.
How Do you Train for EQ?
Focus your training on soft skills (EQ) and layer in the IQ (product knowledge) as you go.
Here are the skills you’ll want to train for increased EQ
Enhanced Emotional Literacy & Recognize Patterns
Get your team to accurately identify and interpret both simple and complex feelings by frequently acknowledging recurring reactions and behaviours during interaction with customers.
Have your team practice evaluate the costs and benefits of their choices when interacting with customers. Give your team scenarios to role play through; they can talk through the cost or benefit to reacting in particular ways.
Take time to have your team practice taking a proactive perspective of hope and possibility in all situations. Positive behaviour breeds positive behaviour and an optimistic outlook is the fuel to an optimistic culture.
Increased Compassion & Empathy
I saved the best for last! Recognizing and appropriately responding to others’ emotions plays a significant role in how EQ comes full circle. Understanding how to flip the lens, show compassion & empathy for situations will go a long way in customer satisfaction.
At the core, emotional intelligence is something you need to own and essentially BE. By being smarter with feelings, you will more accurately recognize emotions in yourself and others. This knowledge will help you make decisions and craft effective solutions to the customer interactions you face each day.
Watch Magic Happen!
When you blend EQ and IQ, you will receive maximum engagement from your female consumer. The EQ skills you provide your team members will go a long way to turning transactional moments into interactional experiences. Magic happens when you can blend both the world of transactions and experiences.
May 23 2018
Editors note: This is the fourth article in a series called The Decision Maker
Creating a female-friendly atmosphere may seem like an obvious solution to making your female customer base feel comfortable in your dealership. However, it’s usually the most overlooked opportunity.
Ask yourself (and answer honestly), “Is my dealership female friendly?” Having a dealership that speaks to the woman and not just the men we usually appeal to will go a long way. You want to make her feel at home, creating an atmosphere that is comfortable, warm, and inviting.
Here are some things to look for:
- Is the music appropriate?
- How vast is your magazine menu selection?
- Do you have flowers in your waiting room?
- Is the scent of your dealership appealing?
- What is the temperature in your dealership? Is it too cold, and if it is, do you have blankets or heaters available?
There are many ways to create a more open and friendly environment. To do this, you must be willing to flip the lens and look at the atmosphere of your dealership through another POV – her point of view.
Get your Team Involved! (especially the ladies)
A great exercise to do with your team members is to do a walk through from her, The Decision Makers, point of view.
Walk your team from outside the dealership and through the entire consumer journey (you can do this for both sales and service) and ask them the following questions:
- What do you see that could be changed to improve the atmosphere of the dealership, specifically, what would make it more female-friendly? And have them point out where the opportunities are.
- What would your mother, sister, wife, daughter like to experience when they are at our dealership?
- In your experience, what do other retailers (outside of automotive) to enhance their atmosphere, making it more female-friendly?
Encourage and empower the female team members in your dealership to speak up and have a voice! The improved atmosphere will also make a considerable impact on the work experience for your female employees.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Once you have suggestions, don’t stop there. Make an action plan to implement the changes and make the difference come to life!
“Everything Speaks”. Take the actions you need to evolve the experience female consumers have in your dealership from her POV. Creating an atmosphere that is comfortable for her, will only benefit you. She will take notice, and it will make an impact on her overall satisfaction with your dealership.
May 16 2018
Editors note: This is the third article in a series called The Decision Maker
Companies with high trust levels outperform companies with low trust levels by 186% (Watson Wyatt, Work USA). Building trust with your female consumer base is essential when it comes to referrals and their desire to purchase a vehicle.
Real Relationships = Trust
Let’s talk about the importance of building real relationships with your female consumers. I believe You have a zero-balance trust account with every customer. It’s up to you on whether or not you make deposits in their trust account…or go into overdraft.
According to the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Daniel Kahneman, each day we experience approximately 20,000 moments. A moment is defined as a few seconds in which our brain records an experience. The quality of our days is determined by how our minds recognize and categorize our moments—either as positive, negative, or just neutral.
Rarely do we remember neutral moments. Once her brain has registered that she’s had a negative experience, it will take 12 positive experiences to make up for that one. It’s why building a trust account with your female consumer is essential to creating loyalty and a lifetime referral source.
“ In every interaction or moment we have with a customer we increase or decrease trust.”
You Can’t Argue with Science!
One of the best ways to establish trust is to form real relationships. I use the word ‘real’ intentionally, as women can sense when someone isn’t sincere and will walk away. Knowing the way the female brain is structured (compared to a mans) can be very valuable in cultivating a relationship with your female consumer. The adage “men are from Mars and women are from Venus” is a very accurate statement. A woman’s brain is built differently than a mans.
If you wonder why we need to talk and be heard consistently, it’s because we use both our right and left the side of our brains to communicate.
Unlike men, our emotions run high, but there is a physiological reason for this as well. Our limbic system is approximately double the size of a man’s. The limbic system is the emotion and memory hub of our brain. We have to feel good about a situation to move forward with just about anything. The popular Simon Sinek states that we make decisions based off of emotions. He’s right –, especially in the female consumer.
Use Science to your Benefit!
Get to know your female consumers through actively listening, showing compassion and empathy, and genuinely taking an interest in what they need or want – even if it’s outside purchasing a car. Uncover what she wants or needs at that moment; it will make you a mighty force because you’ll be delivering an experience that is tailored to her.
Use this new science-based knowledge to your advantage. Create a real relationship and build trust with your female consumers; she’ll be the first one to tell everyone about the experience you provide her.
The Big Take-a-ways:
- Get to know her as a woman first and a consumer second.
Taking the time to get to know her first before diving right into the required needs assessment will break down the walls she has put up, and start to put deposits into the trust account; ultimately forming a bond and relationship with her.
- Establish a real relationship, speak to her limbic brain and earn her trust.
If you don’t, there will be a lack of trust. She will feel you are insincere in your approach, and she will spread that message like wildfire.
May 09 2018
Editor’s note: This is the second in a series, entitled “The Decision Maker.”
Without a thorough understanding of the female consumer, you won’t be able to personalize and tailor the experience you provide in your dealership.
So how do you go about understanding The Decision Maker?
To truly understand The Decision Maker; the woman you will want to create female consumer persona’s.
Creating a consumer persona is a great exercise to do as a team. Not only will it provide a greater understanding of the “Chief Purchasing Officer” – remember, that’s the female in the household – but it will allow your team to be part of the solution. It’s important to remember when creating a persona for the female consumer that she wants to be understood first as a woman and second as a consumer.
You are probably thinking, “How do I create a persona for the female consumer?” The three steps below will give you a head start.
Step One: Separate your female consumers into Life Stages
Age is no longer an adequate way to segment your consumers. 40 is the new 30, and 30 is the new 20. Women are getting married later in life are having kids into their late 40s. By looking at your female consumers through their life stage, you will have a better understanding of her wants and needs at that moment in her life. And remember, the female consumer wants to be understood as a woman first and a consumer second.
Harbinger has created six life stages for the female consumer, which is a great place to start when building female consumer personas. That, when paired with your dealerships demographic and geographic information, will prove to be very valuable in understanding the female consumer.
Step Two: Define the goals and challenges she has in each life stage
Once you have your female customer broken down into life stages, the second step is to define the goals she has and the challenges she faces at each life stage. You will now be able to determine how your dealership and its vehicles can help her fulfil her dreams and resolve her challenges. It’s also great to define the objections she’ll have when shopping for a car or bringing her car in for service.
Step Three: get personal!
Don’t stop there. Take your female consumer persona one step further by uncovering some personal details about her too. I like to use acronyms to help teams do this. For this, I am going to use WOMAN as my acronym.
• More (dreams, family)
Uncovering these details will allow your team to have a holistic view of your female consumer persona at each life stage.
*This is also a great exercise to complete for the male consumer- he also has some say in the vehicle purchase!
Once you have developed your female consumer personas, put them to work! Create a training document that each existing and new team member is required to know. You can train your team through daily huddles, group or department meetings and on-the-fly coaching.