March 11, 2020

Total Performance Leadership Blog Post #7: Customer Experience-Personalization Continued

By Rob Andrews

This week’s post continues to explore the customer experience, which, as we’ve established, is not about you or your brand. The result of an awesome experience is a customer that feels so good about him/herself as a direct result of their interaction with your company that they’re inspired to evangelize others, tell stories, and spread goodwill on your behalf. I have such a feeling for the Sewell Automotive Group, and General Manager Lance Baker of Mercedes of West Houston in particular.

In October of 2018, I decided to treat myself to a brand-new Mercedes-AMG E 63S. Since a golf buddy of mine is part owner of Mercedes Benz of Sugarland, I called him and advised him of my intentions. I struck a deal with the new car sales manager with which I was happy. Then I found a private buyer in Salt Lake City willing to pay me $7,000 more for my 2016 AMG than the dealer would give me on trade. When I asked the sales manager how things would work if I had a private buyer, he simply stated that I could pull my trade but would lose the trade-in tax credit, which amounted to $3,875. His answer, while perfectly reasonable, just didn’t feel right.

I called the new car sales manager at Mercedes of West Houston and within minutes, my car buying life changed forever. When I explained my situation to John at MBWH, to my surprise, he invited me over for a meet & greet. He said something like he was in the relationship business and he’d like to help me whether I bought a car from him or not. Since the dealership was only ten minutes away, I went to meet him.

To my utter amazement, John was prepared for me when I arrived, offered me coffee, water or a soft drink, and immediately presented me with a written offer to sell me the same car I’d priced at MBSL, with $2,200 more in options for $2,000 less. Then, to add icing to an already delicious cake, he told me that he could take my car in trade, do an in-and-out, whatever that is, collect the money from my buyer, handle all the paperwork, and arrange to have my car shipped to Salt Lake City to my private buyer.

Previously, I knew very little about Sewell Automotive Group. I’d seen a bunch of commercials but paid little attention to them. I mean everyone says they deliver a great customer experience, right? This was different. Really different. This was the kind of service to which I’ve become accustomed at Nordstrom and Hamilton Shirts. This was a level of experience which, to my knowledge, cost almost nothing. Well, there was a small discount, but the huge difference as the way I felt. I felt special. I didn’t feel like a number or just another transaction. When my car came in on November 27th, two weeks before the promised date, John called me to let me know it had arrived. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I asked when I could pick it up. My previous experience had conditioned me to expect to be told sometime the following day, after make-ready, clean up, etc. etc.

Imagine my delight when, after being told I could come to get it right away, I arrived at the MBWH store thirty minutes later to find my brand new E 63S detailed, waxed, in the staging area with a big giant red ribbon wrapped around it and bow on top. WOW! Never before had I experienced anything even close to this.

Fast forward the tape seventeen months. I now know that the sales experience, while absolutely stellar, was just the tip of the iceberg. I get occasional calls from Lance Baker, the General Manager just to see how I’m doing. I frequent, not only the Sewell MB dealership but also their Audi store in Sugarland and their Cadillac store on Interstate 10. You see, Sewell customers get free car washes at all of their dealerships in town. I also get frequent invitations to technology workshops, new car previews and other special customer events, designed to make all Sewell customers understand what it means to be a “Customer for Life”.

As we said in last week’s post, this is a level of customer experience that can only be achieved by design. At Sewell, customer experience is an attitude, a commitment, and a promise. Stay tuned for next week’s post as we dig into how Sewell Automotive Group choreographs each and every customer’s experience. No matter what business you’re in, you’ll find a meaningful application to your organization.