When a customer comes to your service department with a problem, they expect you to fix it. It is your job. Unfortunately, fixing it right the first time does not happen every time. If you live and work in the world of fixed ops, you understand the challenges of getting it right the first time. Sometimes the challenge is miscommunication, sometimes it is a misunderstanding of the problem, and sometimes new problems are uncovered as a result of the initial repair, or the repair simply done wrong.
Regardless of the reason for not getting it right the first time, it is your dealership’s reputation and your Fixed-First-Visit (FFV) score that suffers. Yes, you can compensate with customer service, and bend over backwards to make it right, but the damage has already been done. However ironic it is, keeping them out of your service drive is exactly what will bring them back again in the future.
Let’s take a look at the factors that can affect the outcome of Fixed-First-Visit.
When a customer comes in with a complaint about their vehicle, understanding the problem is paramount. You cannot jump to a conclusion based on past experience. Furthermore, the customer has to know that you understand the way the perceive problem, even if reality is different than the customer’s perception. Perception is everything, and the customer has to perceive that you addressed their issue.
We’ve all experienced the scenario where a customer comes in with a complaint about their vehicle. We take notes about the complaint and the technician checks it out. The technician finds a problem, fixes it, and the customer comes to pick up the vehicle, only to find out that the original complaint (noise, knock, vibration, etc…) is still there. Yes, you may have fixed a problem, but in the customer’s mind, you didn’t do your job because the original complaint still exists.
Seek to understand the customer’s concern and help them to understand what you have done about it.
Communication is probably the most important component of Fixed-First-Visit. Communication is three-fold:
- The service advisor needs to understand and communicate the customer’s complaint clearly and accurately to the service technician. If communication is lax at this stage, there is a much higher likelihood of a return visit for the same problem.
- Once the technician has properly diagnosed the problem, he needs to communicate his findings, along with any repairs performed. Typically the communication happens with the service advisor, but some of the best service departments employ technicians that are also good with customers and not afraid to talk directly to them to explain a situation. Where necessary, direct communication between a service technician and a customer can eliminate a lot of misunderstanding on both parts.
- Finally, the service advisor needs to be able to explain in detail what problems were found, what repairs were made, and what implications there may be. Sometimes a simple explanation about the situation will prevent a return visit because of a misunderstanding.
The last important component in Fixed-First-Visit is the skill of the technician. It goes without saying, that a technician lacking the appropriate skills for a specific repair is more likely to make mistakes. Make sure you have your best technicians assigned to the most complicated jobs. Along with skill, attention to detail falls under this category as well. Don’t get tripped up by something as simple as not resetting a service light after an oil change, as this technically counts against FFV when they return to have it reset.
In conclusion, there are many best practices you can follow to improve your FFV score. Some dealerships use a questionnaire that the customer can fill out upon arrival. This ensures that you have a detailed account of their perspective on the problem and it assures the customer that you understand them. It is also extremely helpful in communicating the problem to the technician.
Thorough explanation at customer pickup is another practice that will improve your scores. At the end of the day, FFV is a team effort. If everyone is working together and striving to understand and communicate, you won’t have to keep fixing the same problems twice.