Newton’s Third Law says every action has an equal and opposite reaction. It appears the experience of shopping for a new car follows the same law. Last month, my colleague Ashley Leone wrote about the awful car shopping experience she had that started with a lazy, sloppy email exchange and never improved from there. It was a classic, if tragic, example of the personalized customer experience gone wrong—which made my own recent experience that much more notable.
How a Personalized Customer Experience Took Me from the Mailbox to the Dealership
I was not in the market for a new car when I received a letter from Toyota that said “We Want Your Vehicle!” Their call to action (CTA) read, “Find Out Your Trade-in Bonus NOW!”. The letter included a personalized URL (pURL) that took me to a well-crafted landing page that was all about me and my car. Unlike a lot of other car-related offers I receive, the car on the landing page was the one I was currently driving, not the one that was totaled in 2016 or the one before that. A few keystrokes and clicks later, I sat back and waited for my great offer.
Approximately three minutes later, my phone rang. The caller ID was my local Toyota dealer. I had to let the call go to voicemail while I dialed in to a scheduled conference call. Moments later, an email arrived from the dealer. Unlike Ashley’s experience (which, you may recall, included lots of “model unknowns” and unsuccessful customer service damage control), the email was personalized, polished, professional, and made effective use of the data I provided on my landing page.
When I finally had a chance to listen to the voicemail, my positive experience continued. The customer service person who called thanked me for our previous business and said her job was to make the switch to a new car as easy and painless as possible. She was knowledgeable about the offer and my history with Toyota. Fast forward a few days, and my husband and I were sitting at the dealer, listening to Jaime tell us how many incentives were available to convince us to close a deal we hadn’t even been contemplating four days earlier.
Going from “Excellent” to “Truly Exceptional”
Of course, the car we “built” on toyota.com was not on the lot, and Carvana commercials started playing in my head as I waited for the bait and switch routine to begin. Instead, a few keystrokes later, we were assured “our” car was an easy dealer swap away. There were 72 miles on the odometer when we picked it up a week later.
To give you an idea of how important the personal touch was to our buying decision, take the follow-up survey as an example. The rating scale on a follow-up survey from Toyota offers many options, but it’s really pass/fail: “truly exceptional” is a passing grade, while “outstanding” and “excellent” mean they failed somehow. We walked away completely satisfied and ready to give our dealership—and the entire experience—a rating of “truly exceptional.”
We were well on our way to that “truly exceptional” rating when an email arrived from the dealership with the subject line, “Welcome to the Fenton Dealership Family.” It felt like our delightful customer journey suddenly hit a nasty bump in the road. Visions of Ashley’s blog played in my head as I thought, “they blew it at the end with a generic email.” I grimaced as I clicked and then had my faith quickly restored when I saw that Debbie, our Customer Car Advocate, included this sentence in the first paragraph:
“We are always delighted to have earned your business and I look forward to helping you with all your vehicle needs.”
The simple addition of that sentence made me feel like our repeat business mattered.
Never Underestimate the Power of a Personalized, Multichannel Customer Experience
Our personalized customer experience started with a compelling offer that was executed flawlessly and thoughtfully at every touchpoint across multiple channels: it began with the timely, deeply personalized letter, followed by the well-designed landing page. After the face-to-face interaction, the genuine follow-up email completed the experience. Executing pitch-perfect personalization and messaging at every step made the difference between an “outstanding” customer experience and a “truly exceptional” one.
If you need to create a truly exceptional campaign with flawless and thoughtful execution, contact me here. If you’re also in the market for a new car, allow me to introduce you to Jaime.
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