Resolving Poor Quality Customer Service In The Automotive Industry
Customer Service Gets Better After 60
Sometimes it feel like you have exhausted every trick possible to improve the customer service problems in your dealership. And nothing seems to work.
How many times did the dealership feels like its out of control, Service Consultants bickering with technicians, Parts Consultants grumbling to technicians about management. Maybe the BDC or CRM staff seems to be rather disengaged lately or even despondent and the number of customer contact per day has fallen off.
Navigating your way to a satisfying customer-service result takes stamina and strategy.
Positive Emotions Enhance Customer Experience
When your dealership is experiencing poor quality customer service then it’s time to consider on-boarding someone over the age of 60. We know the quality of customer service consumers receive impacts your bottom line. Even a single negative customer service experience can deter potential customers from spending money with a company.
Studies suggest older people have learned the key to keeping cheerful and can remain emotionally resilient. This is beneficial when dealing with unsatisfied customers, older people are better able to see the positive side of a negative situation, even if that situation is palpably grim.
75% of Consumers Reported Customer Service Was Rude Or Condescending
In one study, researchers looked at how 144 healthy adults in their 20’s, 40’s and 60’s reacted to neutral, sad and disgusting film clips. Older people, it turned out, were the best at reinterpreting negative scenes in positive ways using positive reappraisal, a coping mechanism that draws heavily on life experience and lessons learned.
By contrast, the study’s younger and middle-aged participants were better at using “detached appraisal” to tune out and divert attention away from the unpleasant films. This approach draws heavily on the prefrontal brain’s “executive function,” a mechanism responsible for memory, planning and impulse control and that diminishes as we age.
Psychological research from the University of California, Berkeley suggests as we get older, our emotional intelligence improves and that it reaches its peak as we go through our sixties. Specifically, our capacity to empathize with others and appreciate their sadness or disappointment is heightened in comparison with younger people.
Clearly this an important resource for workers in front-line customer service positions. The emotions and complaints of customers can generate significant emotional labor requirements, this be an emotional drain on service providers. Older workers, who are more inclined to refocus on the positives, may well have better staying power in these positions and help to reinforce the emotional resilience of teams.
“We already understand that positive emotions enhance customer experience and are transferable.”
Robert Levenson’s research suggests we become more suited to social and compassionate activities as we age. The changes in our nervous system brings emotional intelligence changes, which is likely to give us an advantage in the workplace with tasks involving social relationships and caring for others.
It’s probably obvious by now why this might be important news for customer service departments: feeling and expressing empathy and being able to see positive aspects in all situations are invaluable traits in customer service representatives. Yet the age profile of front-line customer service representatives in most sectors is way below this 60+ demographic.
Building customer relationships, showing empathy and understanding customers needs is becoming even more important to a dealership success today. “People to people” will be the way that dealerships secure competitive advantage in over-crowded marketplaces.
We already understand that positive emotions enhance customer experience and are transferable. Organizations of people who approach customers as individuals with valid feelings and experiences to share are going to be in the forefront of innovation and performance in customer care.
Who better to be the face of a dealership than someone who finds it easier to understand and empathize with a customer’s perspective. Is also adept at coping with, and being resilient to negative situations through focusing on the positive. Of course, it would be wrong to suggest that a dealership selects its people specifically using age as a criterion. But in a world where customer service is generally seen as a younger person’s game, some positive action to attract older people to the role, and emphasis the value of their particular emotional intelligence strengths would be highly desirable.
“Providing the best-quality customer service is especially important to luxury retailers, whose customers expect a personalized experience to enhance the exclusivity that comes with luxury retail.
Nearly half of all luxury consumers demand an apology, refund, or incentives following a poor customer service experience.”
Call centers are predominantly staffed by younger people, customer service employers over-value energy and speed of response and learning, both of which may be more present in the average 20 year old than 60 year old (though we all know there are many, many exceptions to the rule).
Important as these qualities are, when developing and nurturing a relationship with another person, especially one who may be experiencing problems or who explicitly needs your help, empathy and seeing the positive are likely to be much more influential.
Although many have suspected that encouraging older people to take up customer service roles would improve the quality of service provision, Levenson’s research sheds light on some of the psychological mechanisms which underlie the changes in approach that are often ascribed broadly to greater life experience.
Dealerships can use the findings to change recruitment strategy with the result that their customer service workforce will be better able to develop and sustain those all-important customer relationships.
“Older adults display “positivity effects” in their attention and memory”
Research also suggests an older person shows more positive emotions than younger people and can cheer themselves up quicker that younger people. Now US psychologist Derek Isaacowitz has shown that this may well be because they switch attention from negative stimuli to positive more quickly than younger people.
His studies using eye tracking show that older people tend to have more “positive looking patterns” than young people, and do most of it when they are in a bad mood.
This suggests that older workers are more adept at turning their attention to positive information than younger people, helping them to remain positive and snap out of bad moods more quickly than their younger colleagues.
Older people will be able to have confidence that increasing age has brought about improvements in skills and employ-ability, just at a time when conventional thinking is that skills are starting to decline and job performance to deteriorate. And customers will find that there is more chance of talking to someone with the psychological capabilities to make the interaction a pleasure rather than a pain.
Levenson Robert W, University of California – Berkeley, Media Relations
Mood Regulation in Real-Time: Age Differences in the Role of Looking