There are a few common skills that every Service associate can conquer that will intensely expand their relationship skills with customers. I call these “Customer Service Traits of Substance” and they are the essential steps to take to deliver top-notch service your customers will rave about.
Service Advisors and Service Managers, in particular, must treat their clients like a guest in their home. More and more, customers expect personal attention and are not just looking for a transaction when taking their car to the shop. With that said, let’s get into some specific skills that every Advisor can master to “WOW” the customers that they interact with on a daily basis. Make no mistake the “WOW” factor is what it takes to excel in today’s Service Drive.
First impressions set the stage on how attentive you make your guest feel from the very start. Make sure you act with a sense of urgency that can be immediately noticed from the moment your customer arrives in your service drive. In addition, the aptitude to actually and actively listen to customers is so critical for providing excellent service for a variety of reasons. Not only is it vital to care to individual customer exchanges (carefully deciphering the how they describe their concerns and repeating for clarity), but it’s also important to be mindful and attentive to the response that you get from customers in general.
Look to your feedback mechanisms to get customers worst-case impressions. For example, customers may not be saying it bluntly, but pay attention to consistent survey results to address repetitive concerns folks don’t mention but are concerned about.
- Proactive Communication Skills
Customers, such as you and I, HATE to be lost in the shuffle. Make sure you are being proactive instead of reacting to your customer’s needs. In the Service Department there are a few distinct ways this manifests itself. From confirming the appointment to carefully assembling a pre-write up and studying your customer’s history to keeping folks abreast with a proactive status call, ensure your client feels like you are going the extra mile to keep them updated.
- Using Positive Verbal and Body Language
Your ability to make minor changes in your speech forms can truly go a long way in creating happy customers. Language is a very important part of persuasion, and people (particularly customers) create perceptions about you and the dealership based off of the language that you use.
Here’s an example: Let’s say a customer contacts you with a concern that needs diagnosis. Small changes that utilize “positive language” can greatly affect how the customer hears your response…
- Without positive language: “Sir, a ‘DIAG’ is $130.
- With positive language: “Ma’m we will need to get your car checked out to see what is causing your concern, from there we will give you an estimate of what it will take to fix it. If for some reason you don’t choose to have the repair performed, you will be charged a $130 diagnostic fee.”
The first example isn’t negative by any means, but the tone that it conveys feels abrupt and impersonal, and can be taken the wrong way by customers. On the other hand, the second example is stating the same thing (your ‘DIAG’ fee), but instead focuses on when/how the customer will get to their resolution rather than focusing on the negative. Equally important is the practice of using open body posture and pleasant facial expressions, we’ve all heard that language is 70 percent plus “Body Language” so pay heed!
- Theatrical Performing Talent
I know this is a shocker but, sometimes you’re going to come across people that you’ll never be able to make happy. Situations outside of your control (they had a terrible day, or they are just a natural-born complainer) will sometimes tiptoe their way into your usual routine, and you’ll be greeted with those customers that seem to want nothing else but to break you down. Every excellent Service Advisor and/or Manager will need the basic acting skill necessary to maintain their usual cheerful facade despite dealing with people who may be just plain cranky, or worse!
- Time Management Skills
You should spend more time with customers in general, however, the bottom line is that there is a limit, and you need to be concerned with getting customers what they want in an efficient manner.
The trick here is that this should also be applied when realizing when you simply cannot help a customer. If you don’t know the solution to a problem, the best Service Advisor will get a customer over to someone who does. Don’t waste time trying to go above and beyond for a customer in an area where you will just end up wasting both of your time!
- A Soothing Presence
Descriptions for this type of personality: “keeps their cool,” “staying cool under pressure,” etc., but it all represents the same thing: the ability that some people have to stay calm and even influence others when things get chaotic. The best customer service reps know that they cannot let a heated customer force them to lose their cool; It is actually their job to try to be the “adult” for a customer who thinks the sky is falling due to their current problem.
- Ability to Handle Surprises
Sometimes a customer is going to throw you a curveball. Maybe the problem you encounter isn’t “black and white”, or maybe the customer isn’t reacting how you thought they would. Whatever the case, it’s best to be able to think on your feet. Keep calm and handle each situation as it arises.
I hope this short list helps to inspire you to review these aspects and put them into action. Remember, it’s your action and sense of caring and urgency the customer appreciates the most. Use your interactions with every customer to build and refine your skills to become “That guy” or “That lady” customers can count on for a great experience each and every time!