It’s Time For a Customer Service Health Checkup

Customer Service Health

Now is the time to let the past go, focus on what you can control and create an exceptional 2015 for your staff and customers. BY GLENN PASCH

After a month into the new year, you may still find yourself with a warm glow from celebrating a great 2014 – or a little more motivated to recover from some disappointment. Before heading any further into the year, you should give your marketing and processes a diagnostic checkup. When customers bring their cars in for service, you hook them up to the computer to find out what is working or what needs adjusting. Why not do the same things to improve customer service for your dealership?

Pre-Checkup: Get An Outside Opinion

A qualified advisor can help audit or interpret what your current list of vendors is doing. Let them see how your team is executing their sales process and where you can become more efficient.

Investing in a marketing coach can help you hold your vendors and teams accountable. Many dealers have a lawyer or accountant on retainer; why not invest in someone to be the expansion of your marketing/process teams? An outside voice can clearly impact and help maximize spend and performance.

First Checkup: Your Website

You get so buried in your own business that you stop seeing website issues that may be right in front of you. Here is a quick way to see how easy it is to navigate your site: give a trusted friend a list of three or four vehicles and ask them to find them on your site.

Ask them about their experience. Was it easy to find the vehicles? Was there enough information about the vehicle and was it useful? Were they compelled to contact the dealership? Could they see your “why buy from me” message?

Then, give them similar cars to find on your competitor’s site and ask the same questions. Take these results and work with your marketing or website provider to help implement the changes needed to give your customers an easier shopping experience.

Second Checkup: Mirror Shops

Mirror shops can be conducted by either you, your BDC manager or GSM. Open up your CRM and randomly choose three to four leads for each salesperson. Match up their execution of the sales process to what the sales process is supposed to be. See what you find. Just because your OEM gives you credit for stopping the clock does not mean you are following a correct process.

Is there a common place where all communication falls off? Are you missing out on opportunities? Is your team’s communication supporting your vision of service? Do you see you are not following up on leads after seven days? Why is that? Are you understaffed? Are you allowing people to stare out the windows instead of working the database?

If you are answering “yes” to any of these questions, it is usually because of one of two things. You either have a process and no accountability, or you have no process and people are just working the way they feel is best to reach a sales number. Not only does this negatively affect customer service, but it forces dealers to spend more money to get more fresh ups and hope to find a few laydowns.

Last Checkup: The 30-Second Challenge

This is one of the most effective tools to see what level of customer service you deliver. At various times during the day, stop and stand in a different location for 30 seconds. Listen to how your receptionist is answering the phones. What are your salespeople saying to customers? What are salespeople or employees saying when they think no one is listening? Are you happy with what you see?

Remember that you are seeing and hearing exactly what your customers see and hear. Taking this 30-second challenge each day slows you down and allows you to really see what is going on in your dealership.

Bonus Checkup: Time Your Sales Process

We have heard talk about how the sales process has to change. Some large dealer groups are committing to a shorter timeframe to complete the process once the car is chosen in order to help improve customer service and address the growing demand to make car buying easier for customers. Customers don’t mind test driving and looking for the right vehicle. However once the car is chosen, they hate all the hours and paperwork it takes to drive their new vehicle away.

When was the last time you timed your sales process from the time the car was chosen to the time it was delivered? Was it three hours? Four hours? Are there ways to cut that time down? If you begin to think about this in 2015, you will be ahead of your competition when the time comes – and your customers will appreciate it.

The goal of this diagnostic checkup is to help improve your service in 2015. Customers are doing a lot of research online, and once they begin moving down the funnel and communicating with you or visiting you onsite, everything needs to work in unison to provide not only great customer service, but also an easy and fun experience.