Signals of Change

Observing the Differences

It has been a very busy spring.  Between finalizing the last connections with my move a year ago, to getting the family out on their first vacation in almost a year, welcoming some visitors and – of course – working on the ever dreaded income taxes which took much longer this year.  I finally had a weekend, the first in over six weeks of just getting things done at home.

This was the first weekend in a while where I focused my energies and attention on things closer to home.  Even getting those things done felt like an accomplishment and, dare I say, a little bit of normal.  I’m coming up one year in my new home state, and reflecting on the differences between then and now has me hopeful.

I know we are not yet in the clear, but things feel more like an endemic than a pandemic at this point.  Even little things are being noticed, yesterday as I looked to purchase a replacement facemask, I actually had to search the store instead of finding them right up front-and-center as had been the case with prior purchases of masks.

The CX Change

One thing I also did this weekend was to purchase our second car.  The “second car” has multiple meanings here:  it is the second car I’ve purchased since the onset of the pandemic, it is the second car that will be used in my new home state an ocean away from where I lived before, the second car I purchased from the same dealership, it will be the second car I have purchased for one of my children to drive and it is my second all-electric vehicle.  Quite a few “seconds” all in one sentence.

All of these are relevant when thinking about the customer experience.  Working backward from my list above, the product offer was really the first criteria that had to be met towards this purchase.  We are fortunate to live on an island with abundant solar energy, at the same time fuel is shipped and takes quite a while to get here making it very expensive, making the ongoing expense of the car minimal.  Without the right product, this experience never happens.

Next is the person for which the purchase was made.  Certainly I would have my own set of standards for myself, but then I become even more concerned with things like safety and reliability.  Just an example of the sometimes forgotten CX touchpoints, recognizing the end user versus the purchaser.  Both will play a role in this decision and future loyalty.

Clearly, something must have gone well with my last purchase for me to make a second purchase at the same dealership.  It wasn’t measured with just a customer satisfaction survey, instead there were several communications throughout the year to build the relationship mutually.  It is connected with the idea that we are relatively new to this area, therefore finding businesses that want to build relationships, not just adding the next customer and getting a score on a survey was important as we settle into this new location.

CX Changes That Last

Of course I left the best for last: this is the second car I’ve purchased since the onset of the pandemic.  The processes have changed in some minor nuanced ways since my last pandemic vehicle purchase, and are still very different from my pre-pandemic vehicle purchases.  My personal perspective is that many of these changes are great.  I still have not set foot inside the dealership from which I purchased two vehicles.

That may seem strange or risky, but the reality is that they have expanded their online presence in a way that allows me to do all the research I need prior to a test drive.  The dealership has gone out of their way to link to reports, reviews and vehicle history for each and every car they are selling.  Not just the glowing reviews, every review.  It gives me the opportunity to easily and thoroughly research a big decision in the comfort and safety of home, before scheduling an appointment for the test drive.  Even the paperwork was sent home with me to complete away from crowds and congestion.

Too often we think about Customer Experience Strategy in terms of which measure to use such as NPS+, customer satisfaction or customer effort score.  Sometimes it is about closed-loop feedback or employee empowerment.  Every once in a while it takes the form of deciding which CX software to use – which can only come down to QuestionPro CX of course.

The reality is that as business evolves through turbulent or easy times, the first word we speak should be the focus:  CUSTOMER!  Yes, build a process that incorporates their needs combined with a brand’s needs, and the best experience will follow.  That is truly what we should be accomplishing in building out a world class customer experience.

Parting thought:  Over the next few weeks, QuestionPro will have a series of events, including XDay North America on May 11th, discussing the automotive market specifically.  These ideas can help all businesses to innovate, so I hope all of you will join these conversations.