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There is something magical about Ritz-Carlton hotels. Maybe it’s the ambiance. Maybe it’s the smell. Maybe it’s the quiet understanding that guest satisfaction is a genuine priority. Whatever that certain “it” feeling is, the Ritz-Carlton aims to turn every visit into a powerful customer service story.

Jeffery Hargett might have something to do with how you feel at a Ritz-Carlton. Mr. Hargett is a veteran of the organization and makes their vision come true at the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Institute. Yes, an organization so good that they’re paid to spread the gospel of customer service. Not many businesses can say that.

Mr. Hargett was an excellent choice as a keynote speaker for the 17th Digital Dealer Conference. I was lucky to hear his insight and wisdom. Yet when the dust settled, my biggest home run takeaway was a cliche phrase I’ve heard a hundred times: “Ordinary people doing ordinary things extraordinarily well“. Stop. Read that again. And again. Did a light bulb go off for you like it did for me?

Auto dealerships are full of ordinary people doing ordinary things. From sales and service, to HR and accounting. If that sounds harsh, don’t worry. The Ritz-Carlton is a preeminent luxury hotel full of ordinary people doing ordinary things, too.

The easiest and quickest way to get a boost at your dealership is to improve on the phone. This also happens to be an area full of ordinary people and things. Top dealerships are jumping on this hot bed of opportunity by asking, “What can we do to become extraordinary?”

Ordinary Thing #1: Answering the Phone. Every single day, potential buyers and service customers are turned away because dealerships fail at an ordinary task: answering the phone.

The unpleasant reality is about 40% of inbound sales calls don’t reach someone who can help the caller. This is a huge revenue leak and big ding on any customer service scorecard. If you guessed the culprits are simple, you’re right: they’re hang-ups while sitting on hold, automated voicemail greetings, polite declines to leave a message with the receptionist.

What if ordinary people at your dealership did an ordinary thing like answering the phone, extraordinarily well? What if small improvements led to 10, 20, or 50 more quality sales conversations every day?

Train every single person at your dealership on the importance and value of all inbound phone calls. The phone should be a cornerstone of your entire dealership’s culture. Instead of repeatedly sending calls to voicemail for employees who are out, preemptively tell the caller that “I’m sorry that Bob isn’t in today” and then ask, “Is there something I could possibly help you with?” Always get a manager involved if no one is there to help a caller with their needs. Not only should you answer the phone, but you should answer it quickly. Never allow callers to hear a ringing phone over and over again.

Ordinary Thing #2: Returning Promised Follow Ups. “Let me go touch the car and call you back” is a pretty ordinary phrase muttered at the end of sales calls. It’s not an ideal outcome but what matters is executing on this ordinary task extraordinarily well.

First, make sure to actually deliver on the promise of calling the prospect back. It shouldn’t be surprising how important this is. All too often dealership personnel don’t follow up with their prospects. Like we saw above with Ordinary Thing #1, this is a ding to your customer’s experience and contributes to a serious leak in revenue.

If you are lucky enough to get that opportunity back on the phone, show some sincerity and excitement. Extraordinary execution here means following up and building enough rapport to get that prospect in for an appointment.

Ordinary Thing #3: Connect on Outbound Calls. The outbound call is one of the most ordinary of all critical sales activities. With this in mind, it’s odd that dealership personnel are encouraged to simply “Smile and Dial” their way through the day. Why promote mediocrity by not encouraging successful outcomes?

Extraordinary execution on outbound calls does not just mean dialing the phone, but actually connecting to intended prospects. Would you rather have 50 outbound calls and zero conversations, or 20 outbound calls and 10 quality live conversations? Ordinary people doing extraordinarily well make it a point to connect on outbound calls, not just smile and dial.

The Ritz-Carlton does not shy away from their perceived pricey rates. Their plan is for guests to happily proclaim “It’s worth it!” That attitude is driven by ordinary people doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. The same holds true at your dealership. Every single person has an opportunity to do extraordinarily well. To answer the phone, to follow up, to connect an outbound call. No one said it would be easy, just worth it.

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Tags: customer, dealership, management, service

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