Service Drive: Are you Talking in Terms the Customer Understands?

service drive

If you have ever been on a computer support call with someone who is totally immersed in the world of technology and is speaking in what seems like a foreign language to you the whole time, you might understand what customers sometimes feel like talking to a service advisor about their vehicle problem.

Dealership service advisors spend much of their day communicating in terms that are foreign to most people. They are used to talking with service techs and others who work in their parts department or with outside providers. Without necessarily meaning to, they often talk over the heads of the customers they serve.

It is not uncommon for this to happen in any profession where intense special training has been involved. When an advisor tells a customer their timing belt needs to be replaced or it could break and bend their valves causing thousands of dollars in damages, how does that make any sense to the average person? Especially one who is already concerned that their lack of knowledge could make them vulnerable to unnecessary work and expenses?

Don’t Confuse Customers

Service customers often come to your dealership in a defensive posture. If they are confused by an advisor talking over their heads in terms they do not understand, this could make them even more defensive and put them on their guard. If a female customer in the above situation says she needs to speak with her husband before making a decision, she will probably not return to your service department to have the belt replaced.

Communicating with customers on a level they understand is crucial to getting their authorization to do the work you recommend. If they do not have a clear understanding, they may decide to not have the work done or choose to go elsewhere for a second opinion. This could put their vehicle at risk or could cause a delay in having repairs done that could prevent further damage to their car.

A service advisor must realize the necessity of this if they are to successfully communicate with customers in a way that gives them the confidence to proceed. If they understand what work needs to be done and why it is important for the protection of their vehicle investment, the customer will be much more likely to accept the advisor or technicians recommendations.

The Advantage of Visual Images

We live in a visual world today and there are tremendous advantages to be had by utilizing easy to use media technologies in your service department. A picture is worth a thousand words. A video can be worth even more for communicating what you are trying to tell your customers about their maintenance or repair needs and your recommended solutions. With very little investment in a digital camera or smart phone you can shoot a video that can then be sent to your customer by text message of a YouTube video. This offers a clear and precise explanation of the problem and the proposed solution that is visible and easier to understand.

Put yourself in the customers’ shoes and imagine you have none of the experience or training you now have as a professional in the auto industry. Now, imagine they are speaking to you about brake problems, electrical systems or suspension repairs in terms and language that are very understandable to a trained professional, but not to you.

Can you see how that could present a real problem for the customer who may have no idea what you are talking about? Someone who may have never heard of a caliper, wheel bearing or the camber, caster and toe of a properly aligned wheel? Regardless of how much you understand what you are trying to tell the customer, unless they understand it, your valuable advice could be falling on deaf ears. If you are speaking in terms the customer cannot understand, it is your responsibility to make an effort to correct the problem.

Show and Tell

For those customers who are in the dealership waiting, take them out to the car and show them what they need. Always be sure to show the good and the bad. There is a huge difference in appearance between a new brake pad and an old worn out brake pad. Almost every car should have their cabin air filter changed yearly. Just by showing the customer their old cabin air filter next to a clean cabin air filter will make the sale. Take the time to present your services in a manner that most will understand. Doing so will create a happier customer and a customer that will purchase more products and services.