It’s not all about the price

When I joined Infomedia, one of my first goals was to get closer to the automotive industry and our customers. I set out a plan to visit our dealership partners across the globe to gain a better understanding of how they work and the growth drivers of their business.

One of the topics that I’m highly passionate about, and that we discussed about at length with OEMs and dealerships, was customer experience. In a world where there are many competing brands and services, I believe it’s never been more important to sell experience to your customers.

So, I also spent a lot of time talking to dealership customers, my friends and my family about their experiences when it comes to vehicle servicing.

My takeaway from these discussions is that vehicle servicing is not all about price. It’s also about creating a positive customer experience through transparency, service efficiency, mobility and technology optimisation.

Understanding your customers

Many dealership customers shared with me about what they evaluate during a visit to a dealership.

Customers care if the Service Advisor:

  • is courteous, knowledgeable and able to address any problems
  • communicates the need for additional repairs in a clear and timely manner
  • delivers a final invoice which matches the quote
  • has the car ready at the promised time

I also listened to many stories of customers feeling confronted with technical terminology; which made them feel uncertain, anxious and fearful about cost.

Their feedback highlights the importance for Service Advisors to communicate clearly and transparently, to ensure customers are fully informed and in control of their service experience.

Beyond the quality of repair, customers often remember their interactions with Service Advisors – this has a tangible impact on their perception of your dealership and brand.

The keys to customer experience

customer-experience

I have seen firsthand that many Service Advisors already do a great job.

Despite this, a large percentage of customers choose not to service their new vehicle from the dealership they purchased it from. Many factors contribute to this, but a recent study by JD Power indicate price and trust as key reasons for customers leaving dealerships for independent workshops.

As mentioned earlier, many customers feel confronted with technical details; resulting in them feeling uncertain, anxious and fearing about cost. Many call “their guy” (aka an independent repairer) to get a better price. Independents are known for lower labour rates, but many don’t have the capability or capacity to accommodate a customer’s demanding schedule, provide loan cars or have access to up-to-date factory repair information.

Independents often agree to the service at a lower price; but when an unforeseen repair part is required, it results in the overall service requiring more labour, more time and more budget.

So, is it really all about price? In reality, price is not always the differentiator. However, the independents do a great job managing their customers’ expectation by talking through the work that needs to be done, showing them replaced parts and providing a more personal service.

Is there a lesson here for OEM service dealerships? How do we combat the perceived notion that independent repairers are superior when it comes to price and trust?

Dealership Service Advisors need to minimise customers’ fears and anxieties by communicating effectively, providing transparent pricing and empowering the customer to feel in control.

Technology is the keystone for today’s service strategies

The last ten years have seen technology companies introduce service sales software to aid dealership staff improve their customer experience.

Here at Infomedia, we’ve been at the forefront of industry innovation. With expertise in both parts and service domains, we’ve built software that:

  • improves communication with customers before, during and after the service has been completed
  • quickly generates service and repair quotes that are accurate, professional and easy to understand
  • provides transparency by sharing the technician’s photos and videos of repair work
  • provides customers with information that reinforces the value of genuine OEM servicing

The right technology can help your customers believe their best experience and value is with you. It allows for a more personalised service and faster repair process for the customer.

Service efficiency

I recently read a case study shared by Hyundai Motor America which concluded that customers are most willing to say “Yes” to service recommendations within the first 15 minutes of their visit. The faster the repair recommendation is delivered, the greater likelihood of the customer agreeing to the repair.

superservice_murphy_-2826Therefore, being able to quickly generate a personalised and accurate account of a vehicle’s needs is a ‘game changer’ in OEM Service Department sales.

Our Superservice platform facilitates this important objective, and is used by many Hyundai dealerships globally.

Power of mobility

My dealership visits and discussions with automaker influencers also highlighted the need to attend to a new generation of digital savvy service customers, who:

  • prefer text and digital communication to phone calls and printouts
  • appreciate automated alerts and status updates so they stay informed
  • want to use a mobile app to view service recommendations, with supporting photos and videos
  • want to be communicated on their terms so they stay in control of the transaction

This is an area where franchised OEM dealerships can take the lead against the aftermarket. Dealership only solutions like our Superservice platform enable a measurable improvement in customer satisfaction for these shoppers who demand a ‘mobile-first’ experience.

Increased sales – the benefit of good customer experience

I believe that with the right technology, dealerships can easily improve the service experience by being more open and transparent with customers. This leads to an increase in customer trust, which in turn, grows parts and labour sales.

How do we know this? One case study from a dealership in the U.S. showed that our Superservice solution:

  • adds nearly $200 to each vehicle’s service transaction
  • converts 44% of the service recommendations on the same day as the inspection report was delivered
  • closes an additional 24% in parts and labour sales; when photo or video evidence is delivered along with the estimate

As the saying goes, seeing is believing!

So while price is perceived to be a factor in the consumers’ ranking of a service provider, in reality it’s more about perceived value. Dealerships need to adopt service technology that facilitates better communication and creates transparency in the selling process. In doing this, your customers will feel engaged, educated and believe in the value of genuine OEM servicing. They’ll remember you for being trustworthy and trying to help.

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Our Values, Our DNA

Here at Infomedia, we’ve recently refreshed our company core values. The reset in values comes at a time when our company is transforming from being a publishing company to a truly global SaaS business. Our core values have been synchronised to align with the type of performance culture we want to create, and they are a part of our DNA to support growth.

Below are Infomedia’s new values:

  • Accelerating Performance
  • Driving Innovation & Service
  • Navigating Global, Steering Local
  • Having Fun in the Fast Lane

Some might discount corporate values as fluffy sentiments, used to build the perfect, glossy, corporate brand. However, our corporate values are not just meaningless words written on our website, they embody our desire to drive business performance, staff satisfaction and grow shareholder value.

We believe that having values is essential and an integral part of our organisation. Why?

It strengthens corporate identity
The technology industry is often disruptive and chaotic. In a world where things are constantly changing and evolving, full of noises and uncertainty, our core values will always guide our decisions, actions and growth aspirations.

Values shape our identity, act as a unique differentiator that sets us apart from our competitors, and guide how we interact with those around us. Our values will be used to impart the ethos of our company to our Automaker and Dealership partners; informing them about who we are, what the company stands for, and what they can expect from us; our DNA!

values-image

When an organisation is rapidly growing and expanding, it can be easy to lose sight of their unique identity. Core values can be used to ensure that there is no brand dilution. Being a global company with multiple offices around the world, it’s essential for us to have consistent core values, to help unite us all and remind us about the standards that we hold – irrespective of geographic location or language.

This drive for consistency in brand and values also aligns with our Automaker partners who are actively pursuing the ‘One World’ ethos for their brands.

It inspires us to be better
Having corporate values is just as important as setting corporate goals. It aligns and moulds the overall behaviour of how our staff think, behave and work. If your staff don’t know what the company goals are, how do they achieve them? Similarly, if they don’t know what the company values are, how will they behave and conduct themselves?

Core values can be a great source of motivation in the office. When we truly believe in something, we spark the interest of those around us, and inspire everyone to work together to achieve shared goals.

driving-innovationFor example, one of our core values is ‘Driving innovation & service’. This empowers and inspires everyone in the Infomedia team to push their creativity limits. We encourage staff to be open-minded and to think differently, and they are constantly striving to build cutting-edge software that empowers our customers.

It shapes the organisational culture and environment
Values are the heart of our culture at Infomedia; it has a strong influence on our culture, sets the tone of the office environment and influences the work that we produce. Here at Infomedia, we have designed our offices and working space to reflect and foster our values.

fast-laneOne of our core values is ‘Having fun in the fast lane’. Our new Sydney office has a fun and vibrant campus type environment that welcomes and inspires people. By providing an open and conducive work environment, we are happier, we produce better work, and we flourish as both professionals and individuals.

How we expand the Infomedia family
Our care values guide our decisions on recruiting new hires, developing our people, recognising and rewarding success.

We select candidates who are not just skillful and talented, but the best suited for the organisation’s corporate culture. When hiring new staff, we look at candidates who are aligned with our company values. You can always train skills, but it may be challenging to work with someone who doesn’t share the same values.

It strengthens the organisation
Having a set of shared values, beliefs and mindset helps to grow and create a strong organisation. Collaboration and team work builds a strong organisation, and having shared values empowers individuals and teams to innovate in the way they collaborate.As a business, we can only succeed when everyone is on board and aligned in our thinking – that is what gives us the edge and makes us stronger, at all levels of the organisation.

We have found that values can be very powerful and have a huge, positive impact on our organisation as a whole. We embed and embody our core values globally, and they are part of our growth DNA. Infomedia wouldn’t be what it is today, without it.

The Only Constant is Change

Next month is our ninth consecutive Red Rock Leadership Forum – our biggest day of the year. We will be holding it the splendid Sydney Town Hall in the CBD and expect hundreds of partners and customers from within the not inconsiderable Oracle ecosystem in Australia to attend to learn about the latest in Cloud, Datacentres and Applications.

gearoidWhile I’m excited every year as we gather together all our stakeholders into one big room to discuss the hot topics of the day, I’m particularly excited this year because we’ve arranged for one of my most inspirational friends, Gearoid Towey,  to give a brief motivational talk on how to manage transition.  With Oracle now finally bridging the gap quite aggressively from on-premise to cloud and the wider industry embracing this massive change at some pace, we all face a great deal of transition in our professional lives.

Transition was something Gearoid Towey was forced to face alone.  When his career as an elite Irish Olympic Rower came to a sudden end after the 2004 Olympics in Athens, he found that there was very little assistance for him in how to cope with life after professional sport.  As he researched it further he found so many former athletes had struggled with the impact such a change had on their sense of identity and purpose.  We can think most recently of the obvious troubles haunting Ian Thorpe.

You can read more here about how Gearoid coped with this transition  but register now for the Red rock Leadership Forum to hear his advice for embracing change and managing transition.  The only constant is change in this life so his advice will be most valuable I can assure you!

red rock

Building a Sales Culture: Leaders Must Walk the Values Walk

Recently I was asked by the University Of Sydney Business School to talk to an MBA class about “Creating a Sales Culture”.  First of all I must say I’m always happy to take these kind of  opportunities because you can learn so much from a class such as this, as much from them as they from you in fact.  Their insight and response and questions are always very refreshing.

Within my own company we didn’t formally think about our Sales Culture until we began to expand inter-state.  That isn’t to say there was no culture previously of course, we just hadn’t taken the time to define it.  We hadn’t considered it cognitively.

But when we started opening new offices, we realised that while culture may breed by osmosis within one physical location, it didn’t travel well across geographies without some sort of definition.  So at that stage we sat down to try and articulate what our culture had become and what we stood for as a company.  Quite surprisingly, it has been one of the most important strategies we’ve put in place and the results of which to this day are palpable from the minute you step inside our offices.  We call it the “X-Factor” and we have found it to be very powerful as it has become ever-present in everything we do as an organisation.

Every organisation has a Culture.  The class asked me to define a Sales Culture, and I did so by talking about it as the reflection of what an organisation wants to be, how it wants to be perceived and most importantly, how it wants to be considered different from others.  We defined our Sales Culture through a series of Core Values such as “Good enough is not enough,” “Listen before talking” and “Always seek to delight our customers.”

Values are powerful because they are a helpful starting point for new staff, they help gu   ide the ongoing management of people and instinctively frame the way you go-to-market.  A set of Values ensures a consistency in engagement with stakeholders and sets the roadmap for the journey your customers take with you.  For that very reason, an organisation’s Sales Culture is about more than just the Sales team and must extend across the organisation – to marketing and customer service for instance – even (perhaps especially) to reception!

My final message to the MBA class is perhaps the most enduring lesson I have taken from this journey.  Culture is reflected in stories about the organisation, its events…its heritage; and the easiest way to demonstrate it is for business leaders to walk the Values walk themselves.  This, I have learned, is central to what business leadership is about.  I am hoping the business leadership of tomorrow embraces this because it has certainly been an epiphany for me.

Ten Leadership Tips from the AICD

leadershipFollowing on from a list of Influential Leadership Books crowdsourced from a discussion in the Australian Institute of Company Directors Group on LinkedIn (which you can see here); from a subsequent discussion I have been able to compile ten Leadership Tips from within the same Group:

1. “Don’t assume you’re the smartest guy in the room! Underestimate the intelligence and astuteness of your people at your peril!”

Paul Milchem, Managing Director, Human Dynamic Group

2. “Be authentic. Leaders who don’t understand that staff see through their behaviour…are kidding themselves and undermining their own ability to lead effectively.”

Lyn Boxall, Singapore Committee of the AICD

3. “Focus on the behaviours of mindfulness, hope and compassion to be a resonant leader”

Claire Davis, Accredited Coach, Accelerate Global

4. “Be Self-aware. It is important to understand what we are like, how people perceive us and how we can change it for the better.”

Jennifer Dignam, Head of HR, Tanker Pacific Management

5. “Good leaders should operate with humility.”

Gary Morgan, CEO, Co-operative Bushfire Research Centre

6. “Leaders do not copy and just follow. Leaders innovate and challenge.”

Alma Tiamzon, owner, ADT Management Services

7. “Failure to accept our own fallibility is often the cause of self-destruction.”

Pamela Murray Jones, Founder, Focus Business Strategy and Coaching

8. “Real leaders bring the rest of the team along on the journey – because they have a vision that’s communicated and inclusive.”

Alistair Grinbergs, Executive Director, Ironbark Heritage & Environment Pty Ltd

9. “A leader should never let bad behaviour from staff or colleagues go unchallenged.”

Guy Wilson-Browne, Infrastructure Director, Yarra City Council

10. “A leader must walk the walk to gain his team’s respect and commitment.”

Jonathan Rubinsztein, CEO, Red Rock Consulting

Crowdsourced Reading List on Leadership

stack-of-booksRecently I started a discussion in the AICD Group on LinkedIn about which books provided members with the greatest inspiration and guidance and I was very surprised by the enthusiasm with which people wanted to call out the books that had helped them with guidance on how to navigate the challenges of management and leadership.  Perhaps books are indeed your friends!

Happy reading!

  • ‘It’s not the big that eat the small – it’s the fast that eat the slow’ by Jason Jennings and Laurence Haughton
  • ‘Rockefeller Habits’ by Verne Harmish
  • ‘The Five Dysfunctions’ of a Team and ‘Getting Naked’ by Pat Lenoncini
  • ‘The Utimate Question 2.0’ by Fred Reichheld
  • ‘Winning Teams’ by Jack Welch
  • ‘Drive’ by Daniel Pink
  • “The Lean Start-up” by Eric Ries
  • ‘Put your heart into it’ by Howard Schultz
  • ‘Leadership and self-deception’ by The Arbinger Institute
  • ‘Matsushita Leadership’ by John P Kotter
  • ‘Conscious Capitalism’ by John Mackey
  • “Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently” by Gregory Berns
  • Capitalism vs Capitalism by Michel Albert
  • ‘Change by Design’ by Tim Brown
  • ‘Outliers’, ‘Blink’ and ‘Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell
  • “Why Should Anyone Be Led By You” by Goffee and Jones.
  • “First, Break All The Rules” by Markus Buckingham
  • ‘Moments of Truth’ by Jan Carlzon
  • ‘Megatrends’ by John Naisbitt
  • ‘The Complete CEO’ by Peter Fisk, Gary Miles and Mark Thomas
  • ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins
  • “Other Peoples Habits: how to use positive feedback to bring out the best in people around you.”by Aubrey C Daniels
  • ‘The Seven Motivations of Life’ by Mark Oliver
  • The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey
  • Now discover your strengths – Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton
  • Resonant Leadership – Annie McKee and Richard Boyatzis
  • “Leaders” by Warren G Bennis and Burt Nanus
  • “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek