5 Customer Service Lessons from a Car Salesman (that you can use too)

Customer ServiceNow, to be honest, I never thought I would write an article about how a car salesman has great customer service. Sounds like a total contradiction right? But the entire experience I recently had with buying a new car just warrants a blog post.

So what can business owners learn about customer service from a car salesman I hear you ask? Let’s face it – you don’t believe me and you are probably only reading this to prove me wrong.

Recently, we moved our family from Melbourne to Ballarat – to downsize various aspects of our life and raise our children in a more “community” based environment. Reducing my working hours, building my team to cover those extra hours, having happier children and generally seeing more of my husband than a fleeting “pash and dash” at 6am as we both go in various directions to start out epic long day.

For various reasons I decided that my big car (Toyota Camry) was no longer required, and instead wouldn’t it be nice to have a smaller, zippier car to drive around Ballarat. I had decided on an i30 Go and was on the hunt for a deal.

“Trust me when I say car shopping when alone and female is not really top of my “enjoyable things to do” list.”

I expected the entire process to be painstakingly annoying. Pleasantly surprised was an understatement with Mason from Peter Steven Hyundai (not sponsored, just pretty darn happy to receive some genuine customer service).

So here are my top 5 Customer Service tips you can learn from a car salesman to leave your customers feeling bloody amazing:

  1. Never assume anything. So a blonde, single, female walks into a car dealership and wants to trade in a car and buy a new one. Don’t assume she is dumb, don’t assume she hasn’t done her research and certainly don’t assume she is not in a position to buy. Initially I went into another Hyundai dealership and they made all those mistakes. Moral of the story – I never went back and I chose to buy my car elsewhere.
  2. Listen (to everything). When I went to take the i30 for a test drive, I was chatting to Mason (the sales man in Ballarat). I told him we were just about to move to Ballarat, we were looking forward to it, the kids were excited but god the packing is sucking the life out of me – just usual every day banter. Lo and behold, I get a card in my letter box two weeks later wishing me a happy move and hoping I was enjoying Ballarat and the unpacking was going ok. And if I needed any help with the car to get in touch. OMG – firstly, you had me at the hand written note, but secondly – you remembered these tiny (somewhat insignificant) details which actually made my day.
  3. Don’t sell people things they don’t want. Now this also kind of comes under the “listening” criteria above. But when I first went into the Hyundai dealership elsewhere, I told the sales lady I was downsizing. I wanted a 2 litre engine, smaller car than my Camry and wanted to buy a brand new car. After I refused her shitty sales and trade in price, she then tried to sell me a used car that was the same size as the Camry. Um hello – were you not listening to anything I just said in the past 45 minutes I was held captive in your showroom? No, I didn’t think so, so you lost me.
  4. Don’t play mind games. Jesus christ this is a pet hate of mine. The first dealership I went to wouldn’t tell me the trade in price separately to the new car price – but just an overall price. They offered no discount on the over inflated advertised price and all extras were added on. Not sure what research they had done but they were about $4k off what I ended up paying. So instead of getting me to understand their price, they kept trying to tell me I was wrong and how far was I willing to come up in price? Um, every business deal is a two way street. and honesty gets you much further than mind games.
  5. Throw in a little sugar on top. So if you are about to close a deal, or get a new client – what can you offer that nobody else is, how can you stand out from a very crowded market place or what can you do to make the customer remember you (in a good way). Now Mason had this down pat – he included car mats in the price, they were not in yet when I picked up the car so he offered to drop them around to my house, he offered to help fit the car seats in the car (and seriously any mother knows what a bitch of a job that is), and when I went to collect the car it was in the showroom with a gigantic big red ribbon on it. One happy customer right here.

“Customer service is not just about closing the sale, it is the entire process of engaging the potential customer, to getting them across the line and also beyond.”

Now I am the first to admit that car salesmen (or women) usually get a pretty bad rap. Always pushy, in your face, just wanting to sell you something at an over inflated price and they will drop you like a sack of spuds once the deal is done.

Thankfully, not everyone operates in that way. And if you look and listen really closely, you might even learn some really valuable customer service lessons from them. And if nothing else, you will quickly learn what not to do when it comes to obtaining and retaining your customers!

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