It Starts with the Appointment


In this week’s episode of the Weekly Tune-Up, Becky Nixon talks about where virtually everything in the auto industry begins – making the initial appointment with your customer.



Video Transcription:

Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of The CBT Weekly Tune-up Program.  I am your host Becky Nixon and also the Director of Fixed Ops Training for David Lewis & Associates. I want to thank you for tuning in today for this weeks’ show.

Today I am going to talk about where virtually everything in this business begins and that is with making the initial appointment with your Customer.

They say that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  It is also said that your businesses impression to your customer is made in the first 7 to 8 seconds on the phone.  Since Customer service starts with the appointment, those first seconds can set the pace for everything that happens with your Customer from the beginning to the end of their entire service experience.

It may be a cliché, but the old saying “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it” has a lot of truth to it.  Research states that 86% of the first impression is determined just by the tone of voice people hear when the phone is answered.

In fact, psychologists and linguistics experts have proven that a smile can be sensed over the phone as well as other emotions both positive and negative.  That alone makes how you answer incoming calls to your service department a determining factor in how the Customer responds to you during the call.

Listen, timing is an important factor as well.  Answering the phone in a timely manner and not just waiting to see if someone else is going to answer it can make the difference in the Customers attitude right from the start.

Once you accept the fact that your Customers perception of you and your service department can be formed within the first few seconds of the phone call, you can train yourself and your staff to take control of that first impression in order to give yourself and your Customer the best chance of having a good service experience.

It can begin with using a salutation of some kind, like Good morning or Good afternoon, thanks for calling ABC Motors Service Department.”

When doing so, speak in an even, relaxed tone.  Not loud, not hurried and especially not like the caller is an inconvenience to you.  And never shout “SERVICE” into the phone.   If you are trying to scare Customers away from ever calling your shop again that is a sure-fire way to make that happen.

Follow this by introducing yourself and then asking how you may help them. An example would be, “Good morning, thanks for calling ABC Motors Service Department, my name is Becky how may I help you?”

How you answer the phone is perceived by the caller as your level of professionalism, your ability to help them and your temperament and attitude about your work.

You must consider what your mood says about your business when answering the phone.  If a potential customer calls and they are looking for a successful dealership service department they can trust and the staff members sound miserable, stressed, or confused, seeds of doubt are sown.  You want Customers to have confidence when they speak to someone from your service department. Service advisors, take a deep breath before answering, let it out slowly. This will not only infuse energy into the brain for the conversation at hand, it will also slow your heart rate to help deter a rushed tone of voice.

When we are rushed, distracted, multi-tasking or just merely unhappy, those emotions can very quickly become mirrored by the customer?  It is human nature to mimic the behaviors of others in all circumstances, even when the customer on the other end of the phone was neutral at the moment of Hello. That can quickly change depending on how they perceive your mood or attitude when you answer the phone.

A Customer’s perception of the level of service they experienced on the phone is the same level of service they will expect to receive when arriving to the dealership service department.  Will it be rushed, disorganized, loud and confusing?  If it feels that way over the phone they may not be in a hurry to make an appointment and may end up going elsewhere instead.

79% of all paid labor invoices, both warranty and retail, still today begin with an incoming phone call.  That is a profound statistic and something we must consider if we want to maximize our abilities to make the kind of first impressions that will bring Customers into our service departments eagerly expecting to have a good experience when they arrive.  And remember, Female Customers are much more likely to do the CSI Survey so starting off on the right foot with them can be crucial to ending with a good score on the survey and a long term customer for your service department.

We don’t always know where our first impressions come from or exactly what they mean to the other person.  Because of that we don’t always appreciate how fragile they can be and how important it is that we protect the positive potential they can have on every aspect of our Customer relations.

By doing our best right from the initial phone call, we stand the best chance of making one that will make the Customer want to come back again and again whenever they need maintenance or service for their vehicles.

. . . . . Well that is all there is for today’s show.  I hope you have enjoyed this topic and that you will consider the power of first impressions with every Customer you talk to on the phone or in the service lane.

And don’t forget, our DLA Training courses cover everything you need to take your service department success to the next level.  Visit our website at and see what we have to offer that will advance all of your Fixed Ops training needs.

And be sure to come back again next week for another episode of the Weekly Tune-Up.