The Principal’s Office – Corina Diehl

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Everyone wants a great experience. Whether it’s for necessity, like visiting the grocery store, or for recreation, like going to the mall, is completely irrelevant. People just want to be treated in a personal, caring, genuine fashion.

Contrary to popular belief, that does not mean that every customer is looking for a handout. This is not about offering gimmicks, so please don’t misunderstand. A customer experience isn’t about prizes, just as the beach isn’t about a beach ball. Sure a beach ball is fun, but who cares about that if the sand and water are terrible? A customer experience is just as simple, and just as important.

That, quite simply, is why dealers across the country have been increasingly focused on creating the best customer experience that they can possibly imagine. The problem is, more seem to be failing than succeeding. Why? If it’s so simple, then why aren’t more people succeeding?

Oddly enough, it seems to be because lots of dealers are overcomplicating their customer experience to “make it better.” Of course, they’re not purposely convoluting the situation, but lacking the appropriate priorities. For instance, instead of making the usual predictable decisions (by the way, always making predictable decisions is NOT good) expected of a Dealer Principal, in 2009 Corina Diehl decided to take a risk by doubling the size of her collision center when her dealerships were on the verge of failing.

Corina was only able to make this decision because of her ability to make smart business decisions through empathy. She understood that customers in her region experience “a lot of deer accidents,” among other things, which would make a large collision center sensible for her dealership. In fact I would venture to say that, while some might see this as an extremely risky investment, it is only a huge risk to those that lack the vision. Further, anyone that might lack the vision that Corina had simply lacks empathy, which in the business world translates to the ability to utilize an understanding of the needs of your customer base to know what solutions make the most sense.

Plus, Corina works to keep her team close. She has a very uplifting work hard, play hard mentality. In fact, she regularly organizes events for her team solely for fun. These aren’t business trips with a side of fun. This is a 100% commitment to sharing what she finds fun with everyone around her, which is a fundamental part to her team’s camaraderie. For instance, Corina will book a full VIP floor for her team at a concert, and not just for her top performers. Top performers might get an extra incentive like, say, winning a Rolex.

This mentality also reflects on her customer service. More than affecting her decisions on general business strategy, Corina specifically chooses the simple answers to providing the best customer experience. Sure a great looking showroom is nice, but customers still hate waiting. Because of her success there are some days where reps are genuinely unavailable due to helping other customers.

Instead of throwing her hands up in surrender over her inability to aid the waiting customers, she created a simple solution: why not give the customer the keys to demo a vehicle? Let them drive the car they’re interested in buying down to the mall (very close to her dealerships) for lunch. Hand them a gift card for lunch or for shopping at the mall, coupled with the keys to test a new car, and see if your customer is still unhappy with waiting.

Will this work 100% of the time? Perhaps not. But then, nothing does. Will it improve your customer experience? Absolutely.

If you don’t have a mall near your dealership, understand this, it’s not about the mall. It’s about empathizing with your customer to understand that no one likes waiting. Find a way to make waiting fun! Share fun things with your team. Both will vastly improve your customer experience. You will find happy customers because of your personal treatment, and a team that is happy to help them because they love where they work. It really is that simple.