I am in the market for a new vehicle. As much as I hate to part with my current Volvo C70 convertible (I am going to miss that fabulous turbo engine and open air), I need to move on. My current car is simply not practical for my business, the Northeast, or some of those roads I need to drive on. So I'm now in the market for an AWD SUV.
I started my car shopping by researching on various manufacturer websites. Based on my top requirements, I've weeded out a lot of brands and models, and I now have a list of five different SUVs I would like to see and test drive. Yesterday was my first foray out into the always-dreaded car shopping fun fest; I decided to start my research with two different brands at dealers near each other. How different both experiences were!
At the first dealer, a sales person was outside in front of the main doors, and he said "Hi" and I said "Hi" and he said, "Do you need any assistance?" And I said "Actually, I do," and I told him what I wanted to see. So he said "Sure" and we went inside to talk. He didn't seem rushed at all; he took the time to listen to my requirements of a vehicle, and he asked questions about my need for a new car, and my use of it, and he asked questions about my job. He also asked what else I was looking at. It was evident he actually heard what I said because when we went to see the car, he opened the back door and invited me to hop in and see what the experience would be for my clients. He explained some negative feedback I had read online when I asked about it. He provided information on why the vehicle he was selling was better than some of the others I was looking at. He asked me what I thought of the pickup after we test drove the car (one of my requirements is an engine with "balls"). He took some time to get a car from down the street for me to drive since there were none on the lot. Because he listened and paid attention to my questions and needs, I left the dealership with an excellent feeling about both the vehicle, and the sales person.
Based on that positive experience, I moved on to the next dealer and brand. This second brand has very high ratings, and I was expecting to love it. I drove up and walked in just as the person at the reception desk was walking away. She saw me, hesitated, and kept walking but then turned around and asked if I needed something. I said I needed to talk to a sales person and she said she'd get someone and she walked away. Then I was approached by someone else who asked what I needed and I said the same thing and she said she'd get someone. Then the manager came over and said one of his sales people would help and finally someone came over to help me. I was glad no one jumped on me the minute I walked in, but it seemed as though they didn't really want to sell anything that afternoon.
This sales person was in a rush. I could feel that he just wanted to hurry me through the meeting and test drive. He brought me over to the model I asked about and went through his sales pitch about how great it was. If he bothered to listen, he wouldn't have had to do so; I already knew this was the model I wanted to see/drive. When I asked what made this better than the model I had just seen, he glossed over the answer and when I pressed for details he just said the same thing in a different way. He basically handed me the keys and told me to take the car for a ten minute ride while he looked at my current car to give me an estimate. So I took the car for a ten minute ride (and did return it like a good girl). I didn't like the car at all. When I got back, the sales person said, "So, how did you like it?" and I said, "Eh, it was okay" and he said, "Great, you liked it! Here's what we would give you for your car and what we would charge for the new one." I took the information and left. I was very unimpressed by the experience.
So here's the deal. The first sales person listened, took the time to assist me, responded to all my comments and questions with well thought out responses. The second sales person rushed me along and acted, quite frankly, as though I were getting in the way of his day. He didn't listen to my words or tone and didn't take my questions seriously. I would absolutely use the first salesperson if I decide to purchase that brand, but I would never use the second one if I were to purchase that car.
This is yet another example that excellent customer service involves listening. If you provide a customer service job and don't listen, you won't do well. But if you can use those two ears as they were intended, you will rock on your way up to success.