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Putting Your Customer FIRST Builds Lasting Relationships

If your dealership is experiencing a decline in customer pay traffic and/or scoring at average or below in your CSI rankings, then chances are you are not putting your customer first.

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Don Reed is the CEO of DealerPRO Training

The concept of “putting your customer first” certainly sounds simple enough …You would think that all employees would embrace this concept and make it the very foundation of their interactions with every customer every day, yet I find in far too many dealerships this is not the case.

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If your dealership is experiencing a decline in customer pay traffic and/or scoring at average or below in your CSI rankings, then chances are you are not putting your customer first. Let’s explore some examples of why this is happening.

The Unlucky 13

  1. Incoming service calls are placed on hold for more than 30 seconds.
  2. Incoming service calls are directed to advisors who don’t answer the phone.
  3. Incoming service calls are directed to voice mail and/or handled by poorly trained BDC.
  4. Service advisors do not return calls from voice mail promptly.
  5. Service customers have to wait in line to speak with an advisor.
  6. Quick lube service customers have to wait for over an hour.
  7. Service advisor fails to keep customer informed on repair process.
  8. Service advisor prepares an inaccurate repair estimate.
  9. Service advisor fails to review required and recommended OEM services.
  10. Technician fails to properly inspect every customer’s vehicle for safety and reliability.
  11. Service advisor fails to advise customer of inspection results.
  12. Vehicle is delivered back to the customer by the cashier.
  13. Dealership has no follow up after the sale.

If your dealership is experiencing any of the above, then you are not putting your customer first. Why not take 30 minutes out of your day to listen to your phone processes, observe your customer reception process in the morning rush and watch your delivery process in the afternoon? In doing so, you just took your first step toward putting your customer first!

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OK, so if you are experiencing the Unlucky 13, here are some other solutions for correcting them:

Solution No. 1: Use Call Center Appointment Coordinators (A/C)

  • All incoming service calls are sent to A/C — reduces or eliminates hold time, eliminates voice messages and call backs
  • A/C schedules all appointments 15 minutes apart for each advisor — allows advisors to spend more time with their customers, reduces wait time
  • A/C enters all customer information-vehicle information and primary item in a prewrite RO — allows advisors to spend more time advising their customers

Solution No. 2: Schedule Service Appointments at 15-Minute Intervals

  • Allows advisor to complete a vehicle walk-around, record exact mileage, inspect tires, wiper blades, fluid condition, details and body work, etc.
  • Allows advisor to present a maintenance menu with the OEM requirements and/or recommendations, local driving conditions and other maintenance needs
  • Reduces wait time and provides ample time for advisors to develop a good relationship with the customer
  • By properly advising your advisors show they care about your customer’s service needs

Solution No. 3: Advisors Must Keep Their Customers Informed

  • Based on the customer’s preference — email, text or call to advise them of the primary item diagnosis
  • Give a feature/benefit presentation of the repair or service
  • Give an accurate estimate of costs and ask for approval
  • Advise customer they made a wise decision
  • Determine time of delivery back to the customer

Solution No. 4: Conduct an Active Delivery

  • Valet service — bring the vehicle into the service drive for delivery (if you have no service drive then have a designated parking space close to the service entrance to use for delivery)
  • Never hand the customer their keys and send them out the door to find their vehicle on their own
  • Advisor must review the Three C’s for every line item on the RO (Concern-Cause-Correction)
  • If possible, advisor should show the repair to the customer. i.e. new window regulator, tires, wiper blades, etc.
  • Advisor should schedule next recommended service appointment for the customer with an appointment card
  • Advisor should inform customer that your department services all makes and models of vehicles so send in the family, neighbors and friends for the best service in town
  • Thank them for their business
  • If advisor is not the cashier, then escort customer to the cashier

Solution No. 5: Follow Up

  • Within 24 hours call, email or text (whichever customer prefers) to verify complete satisfaction with repair or service
  • Offer solution to any negative comments immediately
  • Thank them for their business

Solution #6: Train Everyone

  • Call Center Training
  • How to avoid quoting prices for mechanical repairs and avoid diagnosing on the phone.
  • How to offer alternate choices to sell more appointments and offer every customer an appointment for “today or tomorrow” — no exceptions!
  • Service Advisor Training
    • Just like your salespeople, they should be trained on the “Road to a Sale” — How to Meet and Greet, Ask Qualifying Questions, Select a Product or Service, Make a Feature/Benefit Presentation, Demonstrate their Product, Trial Close, Ask for the Sale, Overcome Objections and Follow Up.
    • Never speak to a customer in negative terms — always positive terms. Example: “This is what I can do” versus “I can’t do this.”
    • Stop whatever you are doing and devote 100% of your attention to your customer — customer first! Example: Stop talking to other employees, stop closing an RO, stop writing a text or email and never eat anything in front of a customer. Your focus must be on the customer.
    • Always add another 10% to estimates for mechanical repairs to allow for incidentals like shop supplies and/or sales tax and usually the actual repair cost will be less than the estimate. Under promise and over deliver!

Solution No. 7: Conduct a Service Tour

  • Who does this? Salespeople with their prospective buyers
  • When do they do this? After the demo ride
  • Where do they do this? In the service drive (drive the vehicle into the advisor reception area or as close as you can possibly get)
  • What do they say? “Mr. Customer, I would like to share with you one of the main reasons why so many people buy their new Fords (Franchise) here at ABC Motors — it’s our service team — Stephanie, Joe and Tom.” (Introduce customer to all advisors who are not working with a customer.)

So, what are you going to do starting today to ensure that all of your employees are “putting your customer first?” Are you going to stick with the “Unlucky 13” or do you think the “Lucky 7” (Viva Las Vegas!) solutions listed above might produce record owner retention by building lasting relationships as well as record profits?

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Don Reed, CEO, DealerPRO Training

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