Tips on how to provide excellent customer service: treat every customer like a guest in your home, never grow complacent, look through your customers’ eyes and continually look for ways to improve.

French novelist Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

This could not be more apropos for salespeople and sales managers as they seek to understand and improve their customers’ experiences. Through years of working with customers and sales professionals, APB has defined the Customer Expectation Baker’s Dozen – what every customer seeks when they enter a business. How do you measure up?

Customers seek…

  1. A place to do business where they are confident that they will be treated fairly.
  2. Professionally educated and trained staff.
  3. Salespeople who answer questions on the products customers are interested in rather than pushing the “hottest” models.
  4. Salespeople who listen to what customers want.
  5. A friendly atmosphere, salespeople with a positive attitude who enjoy being at work.
  6. A comfortable environment – yelling, blaring music, tinny PA announcements, and displeasing odors can negate the efforts of even the best salesperson.
  7. Appreciation for their business.
  8. Customer service that focuses on resolution, not speed, from employees who are empowered to resolve issues.
  9. Personalization, knowing a customer’s name and taking time to learn how best to serve each individual customer.
  10. A warm greeting and sincere interest in helping find the right product, one that fits their wants, needs and desires.
  11. A clean environment – especially the restrooms.
  12. Value beyond the ordinary parameters of service.
  13. Integrity, people and business practices they can trust, repeatedly.

These two diverse businesses exemplify an understanding of these customer expectations and provide a good example for sales managers in the automotive industry to follow.

The Creamery Fountain in Palo Alto, Calif.: This diner-style eatery makes every customer feel like a guest in their home. The employees enjoy their work and share a positive attitude with each other and their customers. Despite being incredibly busy, servers create a positive experience for each customer by offering suggestions on food choices; accepting special requests without hesitation, delivering precisely what was ordered, and asking regulars about their families.

Southwest Airlines: The airline states that its mission is “dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.” In June 2010, the American Customer Satisfaction Index ranked Southwest Airlines number one among all airlines for the 17th year in a row. Why? Less than 24-hours after completing a trip, a customer satisfaction survey arrives by email, seeking feedback and suggestions for improvement. The airline then takes the feedback and makes changes to improve the business; without action, feedback is useless. Another hallmark of their success is their people, who are known for their positive attitude, entertaining style and enthusiasm; all attributes that make customers want to fly Southwest. Continuous improvement, passionate people, and a commitment to avoid complacency helps this airline fly.

Like the Creamery, treat every customer like a guest in your home. Like Southwest, never grow complacent; continually look for ways to improve.

We work in an economy where successful salespeople and managers must create consistently superior customer experiences. To understand how your business measures up against customer expectations, managers and salespeople must take a different look. They must see their business through their customers’ eyes and experiences. Use this checklist and make an honest assessment – how does your business really stack up?

When professional service, a positive atmosphere, and a sincere commitment to helping the customer become a dealership’s trademark, prices become a secondary consideration, sales and profits will grow.

About the author

Richard F. Libin

Richard F. Libin has written two acclaimed books that help people of all walks…

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