Never before has there been more focus on our customers and the valued relationships that are formed between our service departments and customers. Although every single opportunity must be leveraged, duty of care tells us that the opportunity must return to you. The bond you form with your customer must translate to a confidence to ensure that they will come back. This confidence is also termed as Loyalty.
It is thought that in the next 5 years, we will see reducing opportunities coming through service department doors. So there is no time for complacency. Whilst it’s true that customers have higher expectations than ever before, driven by increased competition and quality of vehicle standards; this can be seen as an opportunity. Every customer counts, so the experience that is provided will drive the next visit decision for your customer and ultimately impact your bottom line.
There’s no denying that this is a complex process involving many factors, so let’s have a look at what those are and what can be done.
Does this sound familiar? You telephone a business to follow-up on a purchase or to find out progress with your repairs. You’re put on hold and no-one seems to know what’s happening. My own experience leads me to believe it’s quite common. Now think about the effect of doing just that to your own customers will have. It fills me with dread as it does you too most probably.
The reality is that this happens in our industry all too often with appalling results. All that hard work can be undone in minutes – the Service Advisor cannot confidently inform their customer if their car is ready or what work it has received. They are left on hold and passed around. Yet later in the day we can be asking them to part with a substantial amount of their hard earned cash.
No matter how many cars your service department has in its care, the only one that matters to the customer is their own. They want to be spoken to as though they are the only customer you have and instant workshop management information will undoubtedly provide straight-forward, informed instruction. If you have reliable methods of inputting data to provide accurate, reliable information to your customer, they will love you. A hurdle safely cleared, but an extremely important one.
Vehicle Health Checks are now a standard feature in a modern service schedule, which when offered as a ‘free of charge’ service, is often seen as a value add to your customer.
Customers not only feel they are getting good value, but the duty of care message is strong. If this isn’t being stressed and emphasised to your customer at every opportunity, it should be. This is a chance for you to shine as a business, explain that you can carry out the urgent work without the need to re-book or disrupt the customers schedule for another unplanned visit.
Also, you can relay any repairs that are likely to be required at a later date. Delivering this sort of news can be considered bitter sweet, but delivered in the right way will not only prepare your customer for a future spend, but will ultimately display honesty and transparency which are best friends with loyalty.
The next step after this is to fulfil promises and make that all important contact exactly when you agreed. This is a proven recipe to keep your service customers engaged and for your service team to delight at every opportunity.
Whilst customer loyalty is the number one aim here, it’s always good to know that these steps will ultimately help you to increase customer spend and improve your bottom line.
Keeping customers delighted and returning to your service department is not easy, but arguably not that difficult either. The methods mentioned in this article will provide an insight to the strategy and approach, and this is the gold. Your aim is to maintain customer loyalty or to convert new customers, and all this can be done by individuals with some skills and the right tools. You and your team control your destiny – that’s worth a thought.