Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said: “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.” And that’s never truer than in your service lanes. Your “service department” isn’t only for servicing and repairing vehicles; it’s also for servicing and improving relationships. Good communication is essential to maintaining strong relationships with customers and running a service department smoothly.
Competition for the customer’s service dollar is stronger than ever since the pandemic changed business and dried up the new car inventory dealers once relied on. However, you have the potential to drastically improve your fixed ops contribution to the bottom line with better communication and increased loyalty. Follow a few simple tips to help others get what they want.
1. Make sure all employees are on the same page
One of the most important aspects of good communication is ensuring that everyone at the dealership knows the mission. This means that all employees understand the latest policies and procedures to communicate clearly and concisely with customers and their vehicles’ service needs. Unfortunately, miscommunication occurs because everyone doesn’t receive the information or proper training. To avoid this, regularly communicate any changes and opportunities to all employees.
2. Set clear expectations
It is also essential to set clear expectations for both customers and employees. For example, when customers bring their vehicles in for service, they should be given a realistic timeframe when their car will be ready for pick-up. In addition, updates, photos of work in progress, and videos should be provided via the communication method your customer says they prefer. Ask them if they’d rather receive an email or a text and deliver the experience they want. This is especially important if there are any delays. When it comes to service, over-communication is a good thing.
Employees should also be aware of what is expected of them, such as meeting specific deadlines or providing a certain level of customer service. Again, it’s best to provide this through regular training. By setting clear expectations and training your employees, everyone will be on the same page, and communication breakdowns will be less likely.
3. Be responsive
Another important tip for good communication is to be responsive. Responsiveness means considering other’s needs by:
• Promptly returning phone calls
• Promptly replying to emails
• Quickly addressing any concerns that customers or employees may have
According to research conducted by J.D. Power on behalf of Dealerware, 71% of customers say an excellent customer service experience is the most critical factor in their decision to return to a dealership for future service. Therefore, the best dealer service departments will have a culture that puts the customers’ needs first. And once those needs are discovered, taking care of them quickly and accurately will encourage your customer to stay loyal to you and the brand.
4. Use Technology
Every time a customer brings their vehicle in for service, they want to get in quickly and have the issue taken care of. Using tablets to input the information, provide a schedule and receive signatures saves a trip in line to the service advisor. It might seem small, but every second saved can contribute to significant gains in CSI.
If the issue requires an extended stay for the customer’s vehicle, they’ll quickly want to hop into a loaner vehicle. Tablet-based technology is one of the only ways to make that happen. Using technology like Dealerware, you can create a customer contract in less than 60 seconds, all on a tablet, and the customer can be driving off in minutes. This mobile experience can increase your utilization by 25 percent and, more importantly, brings customers back because of the simple customer experience.
Customer Service is the Difference Maker
Right now, excellent customer service is one of the only things that separates you from your competition. But, unfortunately, it’s also what will separate you from poor profitability. After everything’s said and done, your service department’s focus on serving the customer with open and transparent communication will bring them back every time.
Consistently giving customers and employees fast and accurate solutions to their problems will get them what they want. And that will get you what you want: repeat business, loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth referrals.