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A 10 Second Lesson in Customer Service from Discount Tire

July 22, 2015 by David Trites

Discount Tire is well known for being the largest tire and wheel retailer in the world – but that’s not its only world title. The company also holds the Guinness World Record for the Longest Running TV Commercial.

In 1975, Discount Tire created a 10 second ad, in which a little old lady, unsatisfied with her tire purchase, returns it to the store by throwing it through the front window. As she smashes the window, the narrator says, “If ever you’re not satisfied with one of our tires, please feel free to bring it back. Thank you, Discount Tire Company.”

Understand the Value Proposition

The reason Discount Tire has been able to run its comical “Thank You” ad for forty years is simple – customer satisfaction was, is, and always will be a cornerstone of its business. Selling tires is important too, but tires aren’t timeless, and neither are most other products.

That’s why businesses need to focus on more than just the products they sell. They need to recognize their value proposition and understand what their customers are actually buying. Discount Tire made customer service a core value since its founding in 1960. And thanks to the little old lady, the company’s return policy has been crystal clear for the past forty years. As a result, it is now a respected and trusted advisor to customers.

But today’s consumer is complex and so too is customer service. The way we shop, interact with brands, and request services has changed. If someone is unhappy with a product, they aren’t going to hurl it through the store window (as satisfying as it may sound). They are going to take photos and videos and post their complaint on every social network possible, which will get much more attention – and do more damage to the company.

That’s why businesses need to be prepared to service customers from every angle. They must be accessible and responsive equally across mobile, Web, and in-store channels. To satisfy these needs, Discount Tire is replacing 25 years of home-grown systems with an integrated ERP and omnichannel commerce solution from SAP.

“Today when people make a major purchase such as tires, they do their homework. So you have to be engaged actively in the omnichannel experience,” says Steve Fournier, Chief Customer Officer at Discount Tire.

A Simple Yet Sophisticated Solution

To implement omnichannel commerce successfully, Discount Tire first had to update its core IT systems. It had to clean up its data and get its house in order. Point-of-sale, inventory, and financial processes needed to be integrated and aligned across all sales channels. System speed and accuracy was also a critical requirement. Discount Tire employees and customers need real-time visibility into products, inventory, and sales order history to improve customer service.

“With products like the SAP HANA platform and the SAP Customer Activity Repository application we think we can develop a unique customer experience. We can bring in all the data we have on how tires wear to really help customers make the best choice,” says Fournier.

hybris, an SAP company, is also a fundamental component to the omnichannel strategy at Discount Tire. Business process and data integration across channels is essential to customer service. “We know that with hybris we will be able to consolidate the information we have throughout the company to create the ultimate customer experience”, says Fournier.

The company’s Web site will also be more sophisticated (yet easier to use) and provide customers with access to unbiased and transparent data. As a result, Fournier expects organic Web site traffic to grow 20% to 30%.

In the end, the company’s vision of “One Discount Tire” will be realized. One source and view of data across stores and online will allow employees to better anticipate customer needs and provide better service. One consolidated supply chain will enable better visibility into inventory and operations within the company and with suppliers. And customers will benefit from one consistent experience no matter how or where they shop.

With that type of commitment to customer service, Discount Tire won’t see any tires come crashing through its storefront windows.

To hear more about Discount Tire’s SAP implementation check out this video:

If you work in the retail industry, join us at the Eden Roc in Miami Beach, Florida October 21 – 23 for SAP Retail Forum 2015 – Simplify to Innovate.  Learn more here.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

Photo via Discount Tire.

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