In a Dealership Service Department, the relationship with your customer is “King.” It’s far more important for the customer to actually like you than just about any other single factor. Thankfully, customers want to like you. After all, they chose to do business with you. Well placed intentions are great but you might be doing some of these things they detest. Even if they love your brand, the service experience sometimes gets in the way of the picture-perfect bond they want.
Here’s a list of things to avoid and some solutions to make a difference.
- We don’t value them
Customers at large say they aren’t rewarded enough by the companies they’re faithful to.
They don’t see an equal relationship. They spend money and give praise, but the company doesn’t praise and reward them enough.
Solutions: Are your estimates spot on or even a little high so when they check out it’s ALWAYS under your quote? Also, show customers “some love” by highlighting them in newsletters, social media, and/or on your website. If you don’t already have a rewards program that includes discounts, gifts, upgrades or free products that are earned for purchases over time, start one.
- We don’t show a sense of urgency and that you value their time
Survey after survey reveals customers say that the best thing an Advisor can do when it comes to getting service on their vehicle is show them that it values their time. Yet, every day around 3 p.m. the status calls start! Customers start calling just trying to figure out something, anything! Every day we take in waiter oil changes KNOWING we have a 2-hour minimum wait!
Solutions: The small things are important. Are your promise times realistic and timely? Are you valuing your customers time by giving them status contacts BEFORE they have a chance to inquire with you? If you can’t cut wait times, set accurate expectations. Always overestimate promise and status times and encourage customers to drop off rather than waiting for ANYTHING more than an oil change!
- WE make it hard to remember or find you when they need you
Thorough contact information sounds like a no-brainer but how many customers do YOU wait on that actually remember your name?
Solutions: Are you wearing your name tag? Make sure EVERY customer likes you and remembers your name! Give them your contact business card, make sure they have your cell number. Send your satisfied customers handwritten follow-ups to ingrain your presence on each transaction.
- We don’t respond to email or phone inquiries
Number one, check and answer your emails! As far as phones, in most cases, customers will tell you it takes too long to reach a live person on the phone. Undoubtedly, not every customer calls these days. But that’s no reason for a company to make it harder to reach help. And the people answering the phones should be equipped to help with more intricate and emotional situations because those are the types of issues that come in via phone.
Solutions: Do they have your direct line or cell number and email? Do you actually respond to voicemail? Have you considered a customer communication texting solution? Ideally, customers shouldn’t have to go through more than options to get to a person who can help. I recommend having a log and asking incoming callers “Are you calling for status on your car that is here now or do you need to set an appointment?” Keep track of the offenders who are not keeping their customers apprised and take action.
- We can’t pinpoint an immediate solution
Most customers say the number one factor in a great experience is getting their issue resolved quickly. For that to happen, customer-facing employees need to be able to identify the issue (because customers sometimes know what’s wrong, but don’t know why) and the solution seamlessly.
Solutions: Prioritize and expedite heat cases and problem customers. Use your diagnostic write up tools to appropriately document the concern. Remember, five or ten extra words in the write up will allow the Tech to find the actual concern quicker. When a customer-perceived repeat repair or a no-problem found circumstance arises, take extra care to ensure you have all the facts and concerns to help discover the problem quicker. Get a Technician involved with the customer sooner in the process.
- You don’t know all the answers
Customers assume the Advisors and receptionists they talk to will know how to handle the situation or immediately find someone who does. They’re upset when that doesn’t happen. Customers often switch companies because they’re infuriated by the lack of employee knowledge.
Solutions: What Customer REALLY want is to know that you actually CARE! Emphasize with them and get back to them with an honest and forthright answer. Teach employees how to find fast answers beyond their area of expertise just as much as you train them on the knowledge to give fast answers.
- You are perceived as “Not Nice”
Customers change companies because they were put off by an impolite or unaccommodating employee.
They’ll leave to find better treatment.
Solutions: Managers need to monitor workload, stress levels and demand to make sure employees can sustain the professional attitude to match their skills. Even if you hire for attitude and train for skill, top-notch employees can get stressed and lose their positive demeanor. Make concessions for these important employees to lighten their load. If you realize you just have the wrong person in a customer facing position, change it AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
I hope this short list will help YOU to put your best foot forward!