Keep your team's soft skills up to date

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IMI research shows that one of the biggest challenges in the sector is increasing the emphasis on customer service and soft skills. Businesses need to make sure staff have the training so they’re ready to meet customer demands for personalised, seamless interactions.

In the institute’s Driving Auto Forwards: Top ten drivers for skills change in UK Automotive in the next two years report, customer service and soft skills were ranked as one of the most critical areas that needed to be improved if the industry is to remain success.

It’s because the sector is seeing a dynamic shift in how customers expect to be treated. The expectation is for a more personalised, transparent, and seamless experiences from automotive companies. It’s come about because of the rise of online car sales, heightened competition, and changing consumer preferences reshaping the industry, needing businesses to hyperfocus on customer service to stand out and stay competitive.

As it states in the report: “Across the board, whether in sales or service, the top skills demanded in job postings include customer service, communication, and problem-solving. In the last year, a notable 44% of job postings in the sector specifically called for customer service skills—a trend that is gaining momentum from 39% the previous year.”

Gaining the right skills

What can businesses do to make sure they’re develop their staff properly and keeping their company ahead of the curve? Here are five points to consider:

•    Provide training and development opportunities to enhance customer service and soft skills.
•    Actively recruit individuals with strong customer service and soft skills during the hiring process.
•    Foster a customer-centric culture throughout the organisation, valuing and promoting these skills.
•    Provide ongoing support and recognition for employees who excel in customer service.
•    Continuously seek ways to elevate the customer experience in all aspects of the business.

It can be easy to ignore the need to train staff when day-to-day business is busy and it’s a challenge to stay on top of workloads, but without investing you could be left behind. So, why should you do it?

How about relationship building and customer loyalty.  For automotive businesses, forging enduring connections with customers is essential. Loyal, returning customers and their referrals can significantly bolster a company’s success.

Don’t forget about its impact on enhancing your brand reputation. Customer interactions and service quality have a profound effect on an automotive company’s reputation. Consistently positive experiences and exceptional customer service enhance brand image and reputation.

Finally you’ll be better able to compete on service excellence. In an industry where products and prices are often comparable, exceptional customer service stands out as a primary competitive advantage.

Soft skills are not just beneficial, they’re essential for creating memorable customer experiences and securing a competitive edge, without them, as the industry changes, it’ll be much more difficult to succeed. So, it’s worth investing in them now.

Time to find out about the IMI’s research and the top ten drivers for skills change in UK Automotive in the next two years? Read all the IMI’s research and insights along with a host of other information and podcasts.