Customer Satisfaction – Are your dealers crossing the finish line?

– Entry #10:

After months (okay years) of hesitation, my husband and I decided to take the plunge and purchase all new kitchen appliances; which for the record were all on their last leg. So to start, we researched products online, then took a few trips to major retail chains and finally had to face the grim reality of just how much it was going to cost. After extensive online research combined with good and bad shopping experiences and evaluating several brands and price comparisons, we decided on Sears; primarily due to sale price, brand and I have to say, the salesperson. I am a sucker for a knowledgeable, well trained sales rep. She was great, seasoned and possessed unbelievable, in-depth product knowledge; which I was beginning to think didn't exist anymore. Great experience all the way through the sales purchase process explaining the warranty, etc.

It wasn't until the delivery process that things went sour. We realized during delivery that she failed to mention a few additional parts that we needed to properly hook-up our gas stove and microwave. Not to mention our refrigerator door had a big scratch. Still upbeat and understanding that these things can happen, I quickly pulled out her business card and dialed her number (or so I thought) and was looped to a national call center. A bit frustrating, but I was able to tell my story and start the process with a Sears customer cervice rep. The rep referred us to the salesperson, but couldn't directly connect us and then offered a 30% discount coupon on our next Sears purchase (what?) for the scratch on our new refrigerator! To which I replied, "let me make sure I understand what you are offering, if I come back and buy socks, you will knock off a few bucks?" To which the call center rep quickly replied, "yes". I could hear in his voice that he was pleased that he had done such a great job of communicating the offering. After expressing my frustration, he agreed to ship a new refrigerator.

Next, I called the store to speak with our salesperson and find out what could be done about the missing parts. I was thinking surely she would be outraged and do whatever necessary to make it right. She was not only rude, but couldn't remember us (it had only been a week). She insisted that the parts were included with the order and should've been shipped. I asked her if she could look up our order just to double check; she agreed and quickly realized she failed to order the parts, however, she could order them but it would be an additional $50. At this point, it became apparent that the "after sales" experience wasn't going to live up to the sales experience. A great product and effective product training by the manufacturer didn't impact the delivery and after sales experience, which ultimately negatively impacted customer satisfaction and retention.

Needless to say, I won't buy from Sears again and our overall satisfaction went from a 9/10 to a 3/10. I can't wait for the customer survey card to arrive in the mail, or better yet, a phone survey. Also, we're still waiting on the replacement refrigerator; and while it may be a great product, it is difficult to separate the product from the experience.

Moral of this story: don't stop short of the finish line when educating your dealers. Protecting your brand and building customer loyalty continues long after the sale, and customers aren't likely to separate your product from their experience.

Building Customer Loyalty

– Entry #9:

First of all, I need to start out by saying that my wife and I are Mac fans. A couple of weeks ago, we ran into a problem with my wife’s iPhone. After doing some troubleshooting online, we decided to take it to the Apple store to have them take a look at it. When we arrived, the store was very crowded. When we asked if there was a special promotion or event, they simply replied that it was normal, “it’s always busy like this here.” There was a large staff, and someone approached us right away to see if we needed any help. We explained the situation, and He said, “No problem,” and used his iPhone to schedule the next available tech appointment; about a 15 minute wait.

In the meantime, we took the opportunity to ask his advice on some new products we have been considering for the future. He was very helpful and knowledgeable. We could tell he was geeked about their products. The cool part about it was that he wasn’t pushing a purchase on us, or pressuring us in any way. In about 15 minutes, the tech person came and found us in the bustling surroundings. He was very professional, asked a few questions and then walked us back to the tech counter where they took care of the problem in a matter of minutes.

When we went there that day, of course we had hoped the problem would be resolved; yet the experience far exceeded our expectations, and we walked out of there with not only a working phone, but with an even stronger loyalty to Apple. Are your dealers delivering customer experiences that build loyalty?

Does your channel protect the Brand?

– Entry #8:

I recently received the question “Does your channel protect the Brand?”

A friend’s elderly mother purchased a new car. She opened the owner’s manual to figure out how to set her favorite radio stations when she got home. Can you imagine her surprise to find that the sales person had already programmed the radio stations in the new car from her old one!

Do you think she told everyone she talked to the following weeks? You bet she did; the value added service led the conversation in every telling.

Customer service standards are on the rise. Customers compare you to anyone else from whom they have received great service.

Do your dealers protect your brand like this?

Our Car Dealership Service Experience

– Entry #7:

Every three months comes that reminder of having to take your vehicle in to have the oil changed. For us, it's not really a hassle because we know it will be a good experience. We've been going there for over five years, and it never ceases to amaze me that they find ways to improve upon the already good experience. Everyone we deal with there is pleasant, the price is right (less than most other places) and, believe it or not, a free car wash if you ask. In the lobby they have a large flat-screen TV, comfortable seating, and free freshly brewed coffee and a self-serve soda fountain, along with a vending machine with snacks. Not only do they take the adults into consideration, they also cater to families by providing a child-size table and chairs, complete with crayons and coloring pages. Who does that? But it's all those little things that add up to making us happy customers who will keep coming back. We know that the product is great. But the service they provide takes it farther. And it all comes from great leadership doing the right things, following it all the way through the channel to improve customer loyalty. Go Honda!

Want to Increase Sales? Educate Your Sales Force

– Entry #6:

A couple of months ago I had to fix a leaking shower in the basement. I had been putting it off, but the stream of water was getting pretty serious. After shutting off the water coming into the house, I quickly dismantled the shower and removed the leaking part. In my haste to get a new part, I left the house for the big box store without looking for the brand name of the shower faucet. When I arrived at the store, the sales clerk told me there was no way to figure out the correct replacement part without knowing the manufacturer. 

Not wanting to go back home to find the manufacturer, I went to the neatest plumbing store, Northside Plumbing on North Clinton in Fort Wayne. As soon as I stepped in the store (not kidding – I did not say a word) the sales clerk saw the part and told me the Manufacturer and Model! I was amazed and left with the correct part. I must have told dozens of family members and friends about the knowledgeable salesperson and the great service I received.
Do your dealers know your product like this?

Inspect What You Expect

– Entry #5:

A recent Consumer Reports survey found 64% of customers walked out of a store in the past year due to poor service. An American Express Global Customer Service Barometer survey reported that 70% of consumers said they'd spend 13% more with businesses that provide great service.  Three out of five customers said they'd switch to a new brand or company if it offered superior service. 

These are frightening numbers, especially when selling through an independent dealer channel. Tailored Mystery Shopping is an excellent tool to assess dealer performance and determine gaps in the customer experience. By inspecting what you expect you are able to develop strategies and implement programs that improve the customer experience.

Dealer Extranet Usage or Lack Of

– Entry #4:

I often hear from clients that they don't understand why their network isn't taking advantage of the dealer extranet and training courses on a regular basis. After the initial launch or update of the dealer site and training courses, lets face it, the honeymoon may be over especially if you are not regularly pinging the entire network to encourage additional visits to the site and furthermore measuring and reporting their progress. If these things aren’t happening, it's not uncommon for the network to become unintentionally disconnected; after all, they are busy with the day-to-day and hopefully selling your product or service.

Keep in mind that once your dealer site launches, the work has just begun and you are now ready for phase II, which may include: ongoing updates, promotions and communication that will continue to remind and push dealers to the site. The path to achieving this is different for every company, however, it should always start with a strategic plan that outlines who, what, where, when, why and how to promote your site, training, tools and resources to your audience. This plan is critical in order to continue to drive traffic and motivate your network.

It is equally important for your network to have a reason to go to the site; perhaps it is because you are offering advanced functionality that will help with their daily responsibilities, incentives or updated courses and content. Whatever the answer may be, ask yourself, what steps are you taking to continually engage your dealers and are the messages and content you’re delivering compelling? If not, it may be time to reevaluate.

Customer Loyalty: A Personal Touch

– Entry #3:

My wife and I bought our car from Rick Kruger at Don Ayres Honda in Fort Wayne over four years ago. Since then, we've frequently received contacts from the dealership. Letters and emails, reminders to keep up with maintenance, ways to stay connected with dealership news, etc. In addition, Rick has become an acquaintance of ours. When my wife is in the lobby waiting for the car to be serviced, he may walk through, recognize her, and other customers as well, and stop for a conversation. On numerous occasions we have run into him, at the store, for example, and even then he recognizes us and knows us by name. He also does regular calls to let us know of current offers and opportunities. On my birthday, he actually calls to wish me a happy birthday. So, when the time comes to purchase a new vehicle, our first call will be to Rick. All of this to say, in this day and age of technology and digital information, don't forget the benefits and potential that comes from fostering a personal connection between your sales associates and each customer, because your customers will remember.

What is Channel Marketing?

– Entry #2:

I'm a people-person, and as such, I spend quite a bit of time being a social butterfly. To get my fix, I attend several business and social functions each month. Inevitably the first question people ask when I tell them that I work at Kinetic Channel Marketing is, "What is Channel Marketing?" It's a good question, but never knowing how interested the other party is, I always lead with the basics, "We help companies that sell products through a dealer network to increase sales and profits".

For some this explanation either, makes complete sense and requires no further elaboration or they've determined that what I do is of no interest to them and in both cases the conversation moves on. For others, the next question is, "What exactly does that mean?" And while I suspect that some of those curious enough to ask would've been completely satisfied with the basics it's too late, because I've already launched into my spiel…

"Channel Marketing is marketing to the distribution channel. Beyond that definition it gets a little more complex depending on whom you are asking. For Kinetic and our clients, who all sell through a dealer network, the dealer and sometimes the distributor is the channel. In a nutshell, we market from the manufacturer to the dealers with the intent of influencing dealers, creating the optimal customer experience and increasing sales. We accomplish this through a variety of means ranging from dealer communication programs to product launch training to reward and recognition programs and a whole lot in between."

You can learn more and see examples of our work at

Welcome to Channeled

– Entry #1:

Our team is constantly observing and interacting with dealers, both as consumers and in our individual roles at Kinetic. Sometimes the experience is positive, sometimes it could use improvement and sometimes it's absolutely horrid. We created this blog to share these experiences along with thoughts about improving dealer performance and creating an optimal customer experience regardless of how the product gets to market. In addition, we want to recognize dealers who go out of their way to deliver an exceptional experience. And yes, we will be naming names!




Channeled is a blog for corporate marketers and trainers at companies that sell its products through a dealer network. This blog is a collection of thoughts, viewpoints and conversation starters brought to you by the team at Kinetic Channel Marketing. We are a team of artists, strategists, writers, project managers, programmers and yes, even a finance guru with different perspectives, but a singular passion… Improving dealer performance to deliver an optimal customer experience.

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