Buying and Servicing Your Car Doesn’t Have to Give You Anxiety. Why Do So Few Car Companies Get This?


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womancarshoppingMost of us have, in some way, experienced buying a car. It breeds a bit of anxiety, right? Making sure you get the right car at the right price can be a scary process—or, if you are like my husband, create excitement at “winning” the game of negotiation.  Either way, people who sell cars know this isn’t something people do every day, nor is it something they like to do.

The process of servicing your car can even be more intimidating. Having to make decisions about possibly complex car repairs, which we rely on a service representative to characterize, can be really intimidating. Should I wait until my brake pads go below 50% before replacing them? I don’t know. Do you?

The ironic thing about both of these anxiety-creating experiences is that both can elicit loyalty as well. If an auto company makes the sales and service experiences easy, information-rich, and focused on the customer, it can win customers for life.

The problem is, most don’t.

Medallia recently started working with two major automotive OEMs. Both want to make sure to offer potential and existing customers loyalty-generating experiences, not fear creators. But how do they do that?

1)   Real-Time, Relevant Feedback Data for the Frontline: Auto dealerships have been getting customer feedback for years (I am sure most of us have at least been asked to complete a post-service survey). But most frontline employees don’t get to see which metrics they are and are not doing well on. Most don’t have action plans based on the feedback. They might receive your not-so-good feedback, but there is no real process to drive the insights, with specific actions to help the frontline improve. Real, direct feedback delivered to the individuals at the frontline who sell and service your car can not only get your specific problem handled, but can also give frontline employees the information they need to serve you better.

2)   Feedback Built into Innovation Processes: Getting the feedback and distributing it for action to close the loop is one thing; using it to make real change is quite another. Drilling deep into feedback and getting to root cause helps dealers identify areas for process change. Should we offer customers a complete tour of their vehicle before they leave the lot after purchase? Should a customer get a call back right after service?

3)   Alerts and Roll-Ups to Management: It’s important to have a real-time process in place that not only feeds customer comments to the frontline, but also drives relevant insights  (in an easy to access way) to dealer-owners and management. This gives them visibility as well as providing information they need to manage their dealerships to growth and success. Reports with specific insights about customer segment preferences, top issues, and top performers in both sales and service enable leaders to coach dealer teams and make decisions about how to staff and manage the dealership.

4)   Social Analysis and Engagement: Not every customer is inclined to give direct feedback to dealers, but many do use social media to share their opinions about shopping and getting service at a specific dealership. Combining social and survey feedback data in an environment that delivers real-time insights and actions from owners to the frontline expands visibility and drives actions that impact all customers. Not to mention that getting real-time alerts about social posts also enables dealers to engage with customers to resolve issues and protect dealer reputation.

Bring these four things together, and your dealership can get better, too. Both of our latest automotive customers have some of the best engineers in the world conjuring up amazing product innovations, but the thing that keeps these companies at the top for loyalty is their relentless drive to continually improve the customer experience. They make every step in interacting with a dealership—from purchase through service—easy, respectful, and customer-focused.

Since launching Medallia, one of the automotive companies has gone from 25,000 logins a month in its dealer feedback system with their old tool, to 200,000 a day with the Medallia application! The information and actions are relevant, creating real change and daily interest in customer satisfaction at the frontline.

Starting this evening, leaders in customer experience from these two companies will come together to speak at Medallia’s Automotive Summit in Chicago. The event brings together automotive industry leaders from around the world to discuss best practices in customer experience. If you aren’t able join us, let us know. We’d love to share how we are helping these companies generate serious loyalty among consumers—and to invite you to our next Automotive Summit.


Photo Credit:

Michelle deHaaff
Michelle leads marketing at Medallia, the leader in SaaS Customer Experience Management and has over 18 years of experience in marketing, branding, product management and strategic partnering in Silicon Valley. Michelle came to Medallia from Attensity where as Vice President of Marketing and Products she led the transformation of the brand and the products to be the leader in Social Analytics and Engagement. Michelle also led Marketing at AdSpace Networks, was a GM of Products at Blue Martini Software and worked at Ernst & Young as a CRM practice manager.


  1. Great piece. Your article shows what is possible when leadership listens to customers and empowers the front-line to take action. Thanks for the comment.

  2. I definitely agree that customers can be weary when buying a car or bringing one for a service, but as long as you’re open and transparent about the process, what will be happening to the vehicle and any repairs then the customer will feel completely at ease.


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