-by Sally Whitesell
Today’s customer will scrutinize every aspect of their customer service experience in your store. We don’t just make buying decisions based on necessity; we buy things that make us feel and look good. We buy things our friends have had a good experience with or that have high ratings and reviews. We want the best service and products we can afford and we want it delivered in an environment that is comfortable and makes us feel valued and important. If we don’t get everything we want, we’re happy to tell everybody else about it through multiple streams of social media and rating sites such as Yelp or Dealer Rater.
Today, we’re going to think about the environment we’ve created for our buyers. I’ve heard people in the automotive industry say, “It’s a shop! They expect it to be dirty and noisy.” This is true to a point, but it is still to our advantage to make the entire service process as comfortable and pleasant as possible. Women, for instance, represent over half of our clientele. Do you know that many women will not come back to a business if the restrooms aren’t nice and clean, or if their children’s comfort has not been considered? Most likely they won’t speak up to you about these concerns because most females avoid confrontation; they just simply won’t come back. Keep in mind that these same women are three times more likely to fill out a survey or write a review.
Let’s look at what we can do to and create a more inviting service experience.
- Is your check-in process clear to the customer?
Today’s customer wants to get in and out of your shop with as little hassle as possible. Any delay in the process will be considered an annoyance. Confusion about where to drive up, whether or not to stay in their car, or any other part of the procedure can cause them apprehension. We can relieve this stress by giving them clear directions from their first telephone call. Here is an example for giving them the proper guidance when scheduling a check in time.
Mr./Ms._______ for your convenience, we have your check-in time reserved for (day, date, and time). Please pull into our service drive and wait comfortably inside your car. Plan to spend about 7 to 10 minutes with your advisor so they can discuss your concerns, and perform a complimentary walk-around. We want to have all the details needed to make sure that we understand all your service concerns and you are completely satisfied with the service you receive. Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
This short paragraph will give your customers the information they need to be more comfortable entering your service department. It needs to be delivered every time a check-in time is set.
- Is your service area clean and professional?
Imagine you walked into a restaurant and were greeted by a host with a wrinkled shirt and the shirttail hanging out. His hair was unkempt, and his face had a few days of growth on it. As he walked you to your table, you could see that his shoe was untied. This restaurant might serve the greatest food in the world, but your first impression is that you might be in the wrong place for a good meal.
Now imagine you’re in your service area. Are your workstations and computers clean and dust-free? Is the floor clean and have items been stored properly? Are your advisors in clean and pressed clothes and easily identifiable as employees? We want the first impression to be that we are organized and take pride in our work area and appearance as professionals. Just because many write-up areas are actually a part of the shop is no excuse for dirt and clutter.
- Would you want to spend 2 hours in your waiting area?
More like Starbucks. Less like an operating room. I recently read an article about a body shop that hired an interior designer to decorate their lobby and waiting area. They were amazed at how much more relaxed and receptive their customers had become. This small change had a dramatic effect on customer satisfaction. When we look at the new level of service customers are demanding, we can’t overlook the necessity of attractive décor and amenities. Is your waiting area comfortable and homey? Does it smell like fresh-brewed coffee and donuts, or oil and car tires? Wi-Fi, artwork, comfortable seating, a variety of magazines and refreshments are what today’s customers expect.
Our goal is to make every customer feel great about choosing to do business with us. Clear directions will relieve tension, a clean environment indicates your professionalism, and a comfortable atmosphere will let your customers know that they are in a store that values their business and their comfort. Creating an environment for buying will benefit your customers, who it turn will benefit you by coming back again and again.