Taking Care of Your Customers “During”
In our last blog, which you can view here, we talked about the Before stage of Automotive Service.
Now we will be going over the second part of an Exceptional Service Experience which is, of course, During the Service itself.
Welcome Customers the Moment They Arrive
The During experience starts with having well-marked drive-thru doors or parking spots designated to make it simple for the customer.
Ensure you have a greeter in place to provide a warm and friendly welcome, take any basic information, and start the transition to a Service Advisor.
Offer to Show Them Around
From there, the Service Advisor will confirm the Service to be performed and offer to conduct a brief walk-around. At this point the customer may not understand the point of the walk-around, so be prepared to explain the value and possibly handle any initial objections.
For example, you may want to explain that given most people only visit the Service department a couple of times a year, that this is an opportune time for a brief visual inspection of the vehicle to identify any other issues that could impede their driving satisfaction.
Maybe there is a small dent they have forgotten about, but if reminded, would like to be fixed. Maybe their wiper blades are streaking, but it hasn’t rained in a while so it’s not top of mind. This same applies to scratches, stone chips, cracks in the windshield, or visible tire wear issues.
This is not to “pick on” the customer’s vehicle, but rather to ensure they get it back in the best possible condition for their needs.
Explain in Detail All the Services Provided
After the walk-around, it’s advisable to explain in more detail the Service to be performed. This will help address any initial questions and also manage the customer’s expectations in terms of time and cost.
For example, synthetic oil will cost more than traditional oil, but reduces engine wear and it doesn’t have to be replaced as often. So, if there is an initial objection to the cost, point out the overall benefit and potential savings.
You also may want to point out any applicable Service specials that are available. It doesn’t have to be a hard sell, but if there is a savings or incentive offer, you owe it to the customer to point it out. The more you can inform them about their vehicle purchase, the better.
Establish a Communication Method and Explain Dealership Amenities
Ensure to ask the preferred method for communicating with the customer in regard to Service updates. Is it by phone, text or email? Find out which makes staying in touch easier for both of you.
Next, point out the dealership amenities while the customer either waits in the lounge or is waiting for the shuttle or loaner. Take them to the lounge – don’t just point to it. Present any refreshments available and make sure the coffee is good.
Offer other choices besides cookies such as fresh fruit and other health conscious choices. Provide free WiFi (it’s expected) and make sure the customer has the access password.
Be sure to tell them about any other special features you have at the dealership such as a café or even a massage therapist (which is starting to pop up in a few stores)! You want your customer to feel seamlessly taken care of throughout their visit.
Effectively Close the Gap Between Technicians and Customers
In terms of updates, if the Service has been performed and there is no additional work required, contact the customer with the total cost and pickup details. If on the other hand, other items have been identified by the Technician, you need to have a plan as to how you will communicate this.
A good best practice is to have your Technicians take pictures of the areas in question, and then forward those images to the customer so they can see for themselves the work that needs to be done or has been done.
In some instances, you may need to compare the worn or broken part to a new one in order to identify the difference. Worn brake pads or dirty cabin air filters are common examples that are best shown alongside new parts to help identify the value in replacement.
Other options may be to present good, better, best scenarios if there is a choice in parts, or to provide some indication of the remaining lifespan if the customer were to initially decline the repair. If the pads will last another 10,000 km and their next Service is due in 16,000 km – well – it makes sense to replace them now.
Depending on the severity of the repair, another best practice is to research the customer situation in advance of the next contact.
Are they in a lease that’s expiring soon? Do they plan to keep the vehicle for a long time? Have they expressed any interest in a new model?
Your Sales department may have the answers, and so communication between all your departments is key in presenting options to the customer.
If the additional work is to be done, you also may need to factor in other contingencies such as an extension of the loaner or rental vehicle, transportation home for the customer who is waiting at the dealership, or even after-hours pickup of their vehicle.
Always Be Upfront and Transparent
A critical point is to be as transparent as possible when communicating additional work and the resulting costs.
This is a sensitive area that if not handled properly, can lead to distrust and lower customer retention. Plan ahead as a Service Team to address these situations to make for a better experience for both the customer and the Service Advisor.
In the next blog we’ll look at what needs to take place After the Service Experience. See you next time!