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How service departments can handle no fault found diagnosis

Having a short conversation can make the difference between having a satisfied or annoyed customer.

You want to increase profits and customer satisfaction in your service department, but a no fault found diagnosis, or NFF, is sure to derail your plans in a hurry. When a customer brings their vehicle in for repair, they expect the problem to be fixed when they drive away. Getting back in the vehicle with the same problem occurring only frustrates and aggravates the client. There are three steps to remember if you want to handle no fault found diagnosis properly.

Step #1: Witness the Problem

Your service advisor should physically witness the issue when possible. During the walkaround, it’s important for the service advisor to ask questions and have the customer duplicate the fault. If it’s not possible to see the issue because it’s intermittent, ask the customer to bring a video of it happening.

In some cases, the customer’s concern is how the vehicle operates under normal conditions and doesn’t require a repair at all. A service advisor can avoid an extra no fault found line on a work order if they can witness an issue and confirm that the car is operating as designed, and educate the owner on the spot. It saves the service department, the tech, and the customer hours of combined time.

automated vehicle inspectionsMore: Should your service department consider using automated vehicle inspections?

Step #2: Ask Questions

During this initial dropoff, it’s important to ask as many questions as possible. If the fault is only occurring at certain times, what makes it happen? The technician needs to be able to recreate the problem, so as much information as you can get is best.

If there are questions while the car is being looked at, reach out to the customer. A client would rather be bothered with a few more questions than pick up the vehicle that hasn’t been repaired. Having this short conversation can make the difference between having a satisfied or annoyed customer.

Step #3: Have a Failsafe Plan

The vehicle should never return to the customer unless the no fault found diagnosis has been confirmed by multiple people. As part of your service process, you must have a failsafe plan built in. When the technician determines that there is an unconfirmed fault, it’s time to have it checked again by someone else.

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Sure, this process eats up some resources and causes redundancy, but it’s the only way to ensure customer satisfaction. Have your service manager try to duplicate the customer’s concern with the technician’s help. When you have done this, you have a fighting chance of still pleasing the client.

However, when you return the vehicle to the customer, it’s time to discuss the next steps. This is a good time to discuss videotaping the problem when it’s happening. With better documentation, you might be able to determine what the cause of the fault is with better clarity.

Make sure your client knows that you believe them and you aren’t giving up on helping. It’s important that they feel like you are on their side. Otherwise, they are going to move onto another shop.

Honesty is the Best Policy

WardsAuto agrees that a successful dealership is one that focuses on a great customer experience. To create this for your customers, you must be honest, even when you have bad news. The average person appreciates an empathetic person that tells the truth. If you have followed our steps above, there’s no reason to lie. You can feel good about the processes you have in place and know that you are doing everything you can for your service client.


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Brian Jones
Brian Jones
Brian Jones has worked in the automotive field for decades as an ASE Certified Master Tech. He lives outside of Dallas, Texas with his family where he enjoys motorsports, pickup trucks and traveling.

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