Expert Opinion: How to Meet Customer Experience Expectations in the Competitive RV Market

Did you know that only 4% of customers are bringing their complaints to the dealer (Source: “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner)?


Dealers need to be proactive in finding out whether your customer had a great experience. They also need to be proactive in making sure that every customer interaction with an employee has a quality control measure built into the process. This will ensure that the new RVers of 2021 will continue in 2022 and 2023 and so on.

The surge for RV service is here

Now all these new RVers are out in the marketplace, it’s time to start planning on servicing more on an annual basis. These new customers will need service and accessories in the years to come. But right now, customers need answers to all their unanswered questions. Think: are you able to answer all your customers’ questions? Do you have a chat option on your website for those customer questions? Communication is key in the customer experience.

Focus on customer experience

All dealers now have the potential to make all new customers into life-long customers if they manage the customer experiences properly. There is potential for all these new RV’ers to spend thousands and thousands of dollars in your dealership over the next five years. But the only way to make them lifelong customers is to step up your customer service efforts.


High quality customer experience is increasingly a key ingredient in not only acquiring but retaining customers. With easy access to social media dealership reviews, no business can afford to settle for less-than-best customer experiences. Happy employees and a solid consistent method of analyzing customer experiences is key to today’s management demands.


Read our guide: How to Create a 360° Customer Experience at Your Dealership to Drive Repeat Business

Give your customers tools for success

In 2020, demos were rushed—sometimes 20-30 minutes or sometimes, “Here’s the keys enjoy your new RV”. We all know the better a customer knows how to use their equipment, the better their success. Lack of knowledge on the customer’s part can cause misconceptions, erroneous customer expectations, and ultimately remove that customer from the RVing market altogether because they didn’t know enough to be able to love their new RV.


Let’s think outside the box here. Maybe make some demo videos on the top 10 units you sell. Provide that to your customer as a hand-holding tool. You don’t have to call a professional studio to get this demo created – use an iPhone or iPad. Good project for sales staff to be working on during the off season.

Customer communication is key

The uptick in sales is awesome. However, it is imperative that customer follow-up takes place (either by phone, text message or email) to ensure that these transactions are of the caliber that will cause the customer to remain a customer and LOVE the RVing lifestyle.


With all the rush, errors and omissions are inevitable. But those can be rectified if identified and corrected as quickly as possible. Providing the highest level of customer care is the smartest way to set yourself apart from your competition and get that referral business—on top of your lifetime customers that you’ve cultivated. When you can resolve a customer’s issue, you just made yourself a very loyal customer!


Communicate, communicate, communicate.


The more honest you can be with your customer, the better. Explain why those parts are not coming in. Don’t just say, nope, they are on back order for three weeks. Instead, “You know due to covid the plant was shut down for four weeks, so part shipments are still two weeks out. Just want to prepare you for this.” It’s up to the dealer to help set the customer expectations right.


It’s when you ignore that customer’s email or phone message, that’s when things turn sour. Then the customer feels forgotten, unimportant. Communication at every level is paramount. Everyone today wants to feel important.

Be honest with your customers

Customers can accept honesty. That is setting their expectation properly.


Outsource what you can. If you cannot keep up with your customer follow-up–don’t just not do it. Find a company to do it for you.


You know many new RV owners think taking their RV in for service is just like bringing your car in for service. Imagine the customer’s shock and dismay when they find out it is vastly different.


We as an industry need to address that misconception. We can set the customers’ expectations straight right from the get-go.


Here’s a real quote from a customer:


“When I first got into RV’ing, I had a hard time understanding the service process. I had thought it would be like servicing a car, where they have the parts and fix it right away. I didn’t understand the process. First, they have to diagnose what’s wrong. Then they have to order parts, it’s a waiting game until they come in. Now that I’ve been in the game for a while, I see they have so many different brands and models. They could easily have $4-5M dollars of parts and still not cover what they need on hand. It’s just different. Of all the things that have to deal with RV’s, they’re going to break. Just be patient. It’ll take a while to get it fixed regardless of where you go. They are no different in that aspect. They are different in the fact that they are open, honest, and as helpful as they can be.”


That’s the real perspective from a real customer.


Dealers need to be prepared to automate as much as they can without sacrificing customer communication, employee communication, and the customer experience.


Read our guide: How to Optimize Your Service Department Flow Using Automation


Additionally, training on customer service is needed in today’s service sector. It’s not just about the please and thank you, yes sir, yes ma’am. It’s about the entire customer experience.


Today’s technology enables the dealer to capture every customer experience. It is no longer a matter of if an employee has time to follow up, nor if information gets back to the appropriate person for appropriate processing. This time-consuming task can be outsourced to assure that nothing falls between the cracks and that the appropriate employee receives the appropriate information to empower him or her to appropriately address the issue and to perform as expected by the employer.

Don’t forget to empower your employees

With the shortage of part-time employees, it’s critical that dealers are not only meeting their customers’ expectations, but their employees’ expectations and managing stress levels as well.
Today’s employees need to feel appreciated and valued to deliver the level of service that will best suit today’s demanding customers. Employers and employees also need an avenue to identify customer issues so corrective measures can be put into play. Empowering them to do the job as the employer expects. The customer experience all starts with your happy employees. If your employees are not happy, you can’t expect them to serve your customers the way you have imagined customer service to be.

The bottom line:

Good processes and happy employees make for happy customers thus producing happy dealers. A five percent increase in customer retention can lead to a 25% plus increase in profits (Source: Gartner Group and “Leading on the Edge of Chaos”, Emmett C. Murphy and Mark A. Murphy)! Now there is the dealer’s motivator!


Want more expert insights on trends happening in the RV market? Read the 2022 RV Industry Trends Report:

About the Author:

As Founder and Owner, Becky Thompson has been servicing the RV, Marine, Textile, and Software industries over the last 33 years. In an era of vast change and small business fall-out, CSI has endured, evolved, and enhanced the scope of what Customer Experience Quality Control is all about. Under her guidance CSI has developed a system to Track, Measure, and Manage the daily experience of customers in a very user-friendly format, delivering remarkable Return on Investment.

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