The 1st Rule of a Frictionless Customer Experience #FCX

Last week I hosted a webinar with DealerOn (fantastic dealer website vendor by the way), it was titled 6 Steps to Creating a Frictionless Customer Experience, you can watch it here if you like. It was a high level introduction for automotive dealership personnel to get familiar with both the methods and the value of of minimizing the friction that their customers experience when engaging with dealerships today.


Removing or minimizing the “friction” that customers experience when dealing with a dealer is a significant competitive advantage to be sure. But more than that, it’s what shoppers and buyers have come to expect and deserve in the real world today. Consumers, shoppers, and yes even you dear reader have come to expect and appreciate those businesses that have proactively removed or reduced friction for you when doing business with them.


Frictionless rocks! Consider highway Toll Booths and their “express lanes.” How about “self check-out” lanes at grocery stores. I bet that you love it when your waiter brings an iphone or ipad or some other checkout device for you to swipe your card at the lunch table so you don’t have to wait on them to run off with your credit card right? Kudos to those phone and cable companies getting rid of your long term contracts. How about as I type this I’m sitting in my JetBlue seat enjoying free Wifi (by the way, I didn’t have to ask them for a wifi password, which is so two-thousand-and-late!). And like me, you probably order and pay for your Starbucks coffee, walk in, pick it up from the counter while everyone else stands in line waiting right? I could go on, but you get the point. You and all of us appreciate it when businesses work to proactively remove friction for us. We notice it, we appreciate it, and we most definitely rave about it to our friends and family. And that right there – that raving, that marketing between your customers rather than to your customers is a massive competitive advantage. There is no marketing strategy, no advertising tactic, no amount of budget that your competition can employ to compete with a competitive advantage like that.


The first and most important rule in creating a Frictionless Customer Experience at your dealership: Being the BEST PLACE to Buy From.


Send me all the junk mail (direct mail it’s still called), spam mail (email campaigns), frustrating video pre-roll, and annoying banner display ads cluttering my browser that you want. Bury me with it like you have in the yesteryears of 2000 and are still trying to hoping that I’ll consider your dealership. Well, good luck with that. Me, I’m going to Frictionless Motors because my facebook friend told me that the horrors that I expect when dealing with BusinessAsUsual Motors simply doesn’t exist at Frictionless Motors. They raved about how “cool and easy it was” and even better … how “cool and easy it was working with the people at Frictionless Motors.” And there… right there is the first and most important rule in creating a Frictionless Customer Experience at your dealership: Being the BEST PLACE to Buy From. Let’s dive deeper into that first rule.


It all starts with you Mr. Dealer. I’m sure you’ve heard that before and in most cases it’s true, but in this particular case if you intend to compete in this changing economy, if you intend to gain or maintain your sales volumes and profitability margins, if you intend to maintain or gain an unfair competitive advantage, and yes, especially if you intend to survive the coming innovations and changes inevitably headed toward automotive retail, then it absolutely must start with you.


So, what to do with this “Being the Best Place to Buy From” rule? Here’s sound advice from Shep Hyken; “To be the best place to buy, you must be the best place to work. Treat your employees the way you want your customers to be treated. Maybe even better.”


Treating your employees better than how you want your customers treated is exactly how you become the best place to work. Want raving fans talking about your dealership in a positive light to their friends? Then ensure that your employees are raving to their friends and family about how well you and their managers treat them. Your employees come first, period. It’s not your facilities that make them happy. It isn’t your benefits or even their compensation that make them rave about you. Look at it this way, if you doubled their pay and treated them like indentured servants, never giving them honest compliments, micro managed their every move, and criticized the majority of their work; they might hang around for the pay-check but they certainly wouldn’t rave about working for you. And the only people to experience their frustration and discontentment would be your customers. So it’s not the money (although you should be more than fair in that regard). It’s not your facilities or your benefits. It’s how you treat your employees. Even more so, it’s how they perceive that you and your managers treat them. That’s why it starts with you.


Here’s the rub, you as a dealer principal or general manager are among the least qualified people to answer the question: are we the best place to work for?

Today’s competitive edge for dealers doesn’t come from being a great place to work, it comes from being the BEST place to work.

That question is reserved for your employees only, and that question needs to be asked every single month. If you intend to be “better today than you were yesterday,” then the person to answer that question for you is your employee. It takes work. Real, hard, honest work on your part to get this principle working in your dealership. You might have to use surveys to get to the heart of it. You might have to ask the question several times a week. You might have to hire outside consultants to help you regularly evaluate your employees’ opinions of how they feel they’re treated by you and their managers. The general question is simply: “what can we do to make the experience of working here better for you and co-workers.”


You then have to actively listen, without your own bias of what you think would make it a great place to work, or worse, about when you were a young technician or salesperson. You see the rule is about you but only indirectly. It’s about you only in the context of how your employees describe working for you to their friends and family. Today’s competitive edge for dealers doesn’t come from being a great place to work, it comes from being the BEST place to work. There’s the hidden nugget.


What’s the upside? What’s in it for you? When you’re the BEST place to work in the words of your employees, you immediately become the best place to buy in the words of your market. That is your unfair competitive advantage. That is something that the likes of Jeff Bezos will never be able to compete with… never!



If this post makes sense to you, or if you have specific questions about it and you want to have a real world discussion about how your dealership can gain a competitive advantage by creating Frictionless Customer Experiences, shoot me an email or give us a call and we’ll walk you through it. You can reach me directly at or give me a call directly at (408) 218-6407.



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