Sally Whitesell has spent over two decades providing service advisor training to service departments across the country. Her professional training products have been utilized at dealerships by individuals, service teams, and managers.
Joe Gumm speaks to Whitesell, who is the founder and CEO of SW Service Solutions, about online surveys, customer feedback and training your employees to deliver a consistent service drive experience.
Ask for the Customer Survey
If anyone does anything online, they receive an online survey. People don’t fill out surveys unless they’re either wowed with excellent service or there is something else that impacts their decision to do a survey.
For service departments, what can the dealer and dealership team do to persuade them to fill out a survey during a service visit?
“There a few steps we can take [to get clients to fill out a survey]. One of the first things we do when we ask service advisors to greet their clients is, let them know that it is their goal to provide excellent service, and then open the door for the team to offer feedback if at any time they don’t feel that they are getting exceptional service,” Whitesell says.
It is more sincere if the feedback is asked for at the beginning of the vehicle service process rather than at the end. Service advisors are encouraged to provide a survey at the end and personally ask for customer feedback.
Be Consistent in The Service Drive
Whitesell consistency in the service drive is needed in many different ways, including retaining service drive personnel to retain customers.
“First of all, customers want to have the same people take care of them as often as possible,” Whitesell says.
The goal is to give service advisors the tools, training, and support they need to be successful.
“When clients come in, we need everyone to take all the steps to make sure customers feel completely comfortable, and this is done by making them familiar with your process,” she says.
If customers look unsure of where they are supposed to be or what they are supposed to do, it shows that it is a group of advisors that each have their own process. Whitesell says this is because they have not had the guidance, direction, or the guidelines put in place for consistency that they need to help customers enjoy the process.
“We recommend that you train your customers by giving them the guidelines on what they need to do when they come in,” Whitesell says.
The perfect example of that is the difference between frequent fliers and vacation travelers. Frequent fliers know where to stand, what we need to do when we reach the security and the gate, and delays don’t throw off the frequent flier, because they know delays happen all the time. But vacation travelers may be stressed by these same things. Customers in the service drive are the same way.
“If service teams make it very clear what is going to happen every time they enter our drive and give them a process to follow, then they can relax just like the frequent fliers do,” Whitesell says
Help Your Service Drive Run Smooth by Streamlining the Service Process
Is there a process that helps make the process go a little smoother and that helps dealers be accountable for the process when customers come in and so customers know what to expect?
“We recommend that you put your policies and procedures in writing. This can be part of a detailed job description. We recommend that you go over this with employees and new hires and have them sign off on it,” Whitesell says.
Make sure that employees know what the expectations are for the position, and that they are trained in the consistent process set out in the guidelines not varying processes that they could learn from other team members on the floor. Also, use checklists with employees when you go over a review of their performance, and go over performance in their customer satisfaction scores.
Whitesell offers a tool in this area. “We offer a checklist and would like to offer it to your viewers for free if they contact us. We know this is a great tool,” says Whitesell.
Role-playing is also a good way to help train your employees on service drive process.
Remember, training is a continuous process. We can never stop learning or we become stagnate. To maintain a consistent service drive process, it is very important that every single manager inspects what they expect from their employees often. Managers must lead by example and stay accountable to the service drive process.