Automated Love!

Professional speakers and trainers tend to spend many hours using free wi-fi in sandwich and coffee shops across the land. We meet clients, write, read, and maybe most importantly, watch the interesting interactions of the people who cross our paths. One such day at the local Panera Bread, three young ladies took the table next to me and began to rave about the “awesome” white sports car one of them had recently purchased. Not only was she a proud new owner of her “first new car” but her friends were obviously envious of her new wheels as well.

Then the conversation took a very negative tone.

The young lady disgustedly proclaimed how she had just spent $36K with the local dealership where her family had done business for years, and all she got was a “bleeping” automated email. “I mean what the bleep, I spent more money than my parents did for their first house…and all I get is a “bleeping” automated email to thank me?”

As a dealership, whatever client services or relationship management software system you use…make it personal!

And that doesn’t mean merely typing in their full, given name from the contract.

“I consult and train dealerships on building strong customer relationships, do you mind if I ask you a quick question?” I said. After the typical “What’s with this guy look” she nodded and agreed to entertain the question.

“What could the dealer or sales person have done that would have made you happy?”

“They could actually show me that they care! I don’t that’s too much to ask.”

Automated love doesn’t leave customers feeling that the dealership really cares. Nothing can damage or stifle customer relations more significantly that a “personal contact” that is perceived as highly impersonal. Don’t get me wrong! Friendly reminders and the occasional educational communique can be routine and automated, but thank you notes must be personal. That’s right! Just a simple thank you note will go a long way. For those who have forgotten the lost art of handwritten thank you notes, here is a brief reminder:

Address them directly: Start off with a “Dear ….” greeting or if it’s a long-time customer you can call them by their first name if more appropriate.

Keep it simple: There is no need to get all syrupy and cutesy. Keep it simple and specific. Thank them for coming to you for their transportation needs and welcome them to the dealership “family” or make a statement that will tie-in to the dealership tag line.

Sign-off…don’t sell: Sincerely thank them again and tell them how important their relationship is to you and the dealership. Reassure them that you will be their to meet their continued needs. DON’T UPSELL or even thank them for their BUSINESS. This is all about personal relationships!

A simple thank you note would have made our first time buyer Panera Bread friend much happier. In fact, thank you notes will make everyone happier. The next time you use a “Automated Love” email “Customer Relationship Management” software system, think about the young lady in Panera Bread…how did it make her feel?

Kill the automated love! Relationship building starts with a simple thank you note. And thanks to Panera Bread for the Wi-Fi.