For most drivers, once they pick up their vehicle from the dealer service department, it’s the last time the shop will communicate with them until they call to make an appointment to return. In many cases, all communication is complete when the invoice is filed or placed in the glove box. And while this is just how things are, shouldn’t you expect more from that interaction?
Lack of customer communications between visits can be costing your repair operation in a number of ways. It can be as simple as the customer suddenly realizing their oil change or even their state inspection is overdue and heading to the nearest shop in a panic.
Or customers will leave the dealer’s shop disappointed with the service, but never reaching out to voice their complaint. Yet you can be assured they will tell their friends and family how dissatisfied they were with your service.
At the end of each visit, customer communication should continue with an “exit interview” when they pick up the vehicle. During this time, the advisor should go over what was done on the vehicle during the visit. Ideally, the advisor will then go over any recommendations that should be addressed in the future. Finally, he or she should set the next appointment with the customer.
If your shop uses an automatic appointment reminder system, such as sending reminder text messages, you should inform the customer that the message is going to come and that they can confirm that they will be in for the appointed work.
It is important in this age of spam, spoofing and phishing constantly bombarding our cell phones that your shop’s contact information be in the customer’s contacts list. This way, whenever you call or text your customers, they will immediately know that it is a legitimate contact from your shop. Having your text software automatically send a vCard makes this easy.
After a few days, it’s a good idea to reach out to the customer and check in with them about the recent visit. This can be done by text or phone. The message should be one thanking the customer for their business and checking to see if all is good with what was done on the vehicle.
In some cases, this will be a great opportunity for the customer to tell you that they were not satisfied with something from the visit. Using text often gives customers liberty to communicate things that they don’t feel comfortable saying in person or on the phone. They may open up about whatever is bothering them, giving you a chance to fix the issue.
After a visit, you can even text the customer a link to review your repair department on Facebook or Google, helping build that online presence that will get your shop found when someone is searching for “auto repair” in your area.
Sending customers a text reminder in advance of their next appointment is another great way to communicate between visits. Reminding a customer a week in advance allows them plenty of time to plan for the appointment. Having them confirm the appointment by simply replying with the letter “C” also helps you be ready when they arrive.
You can also communicate with your customers between visits with a seasonal newsletter, via e-mail or text. Each newsletter can offer specials or important information related to the coming season.
No matter what methods you use, regularly engaging customers when they don’t have a pending appointment will keep your dealership and service department on top of mind, and keep them coming back.