Screenshot of Sally Whitesell on CBT News

Consistency in The Service Drive (video)

Joe: Sally Whitesell has spent over two decades providing service advisor training in service departments across the country. Her professional training products have been utilized at dealerships by individuals, service teams, managers and at the corporate level.  She is the founder and CEO of sw Service Solutions, and also a contributor to CBT news. We always appreciate the content she provides for our dealer audiences. Sally, welcome!

Sally: Well thank you Joe, it’s always a pleasure to be here.

Joe: Okay Sally, if anyone does anything online, eventually, they’ll receive a survey. A lot of people don’t fill out surveys unless they’re either wowed with excellent service or there’s something else that impacts their decision to do a survey. For service departments; what can they do to not only wow customers, but persuade them to fill out a survey?

Ask for the Customer Survey

Sally: We are bombarded with surveys, so it’s always a challenge to get someone to spend their time to fill out another one. So there’s a few steps we can take, because we do want to to get the happy clients to fill it out just as much, if not even more, than people who are upset.

One of the things we do when we ask service advisors to do when they first greet their clients is, let them know that it is their goal to provide excellent service, and then open the door for them to offer feedback if at any time they don’t feel that they are getting exceptional service. It just rings a lot more true and sincere if we do it at the opening rather than begging for the survey at the end. We do encourage them at the end to let their customers know they are going to get a survey and that it’s important to them personally that they get the survey filled out and returned. A lot of people think surveys are for big companies, and big companies are successful enough, so they just delete them from the inbox. If they know it’s going to affect the person who actually took the time to take care of them and took care of their car, they’re much more likely to do so.

Joe: Sally, address the topic of being consistent in the service drive. Can you do that?

Be Consistent on The Service Drive

Sally: We need consistency in many different ways, First of all, we want to have the same people take care of us as often as possible. So if you have a lot of turnover, that’s really going to affect your customer retention. So of course our goal is to give service advisors the tools, training, and support they need to be successful. When clients do come in, we need everyone to take all the steps they can to make sure customers feel completely comfortable, and this is done by making them familiar with your process.

When I go into the store and I see all of the customers look unsure of where they’re supposed to be, or what they’re supposed to do, I know we probably have a group of advisors that each have their own process, because they have not had the guidance, direction, or the guidelines put in place for consistency to help customers enjoy the process. We recommend that you go ahead and train your customers (believe it or not) by giving them the guidelines on what they need to do when they come in.

The perfect example of that is every single time I go to the airport, and I go a lot! I notice the difference between us frequent fliers and the people who are just vacation travelers. We know where to stand, we know what we need to do when we reach the security gate, and we’re really not thrown off too much by delays because they happen all the time. But when you get those people who are hardly ever in the airport, they seem stressed. They’re not sure where they’re supposed to be, what they’re supposed to do, or how they’re supposed to handle the little hiccups that come up along the way.

Our customers are the exact same. If we make it very clear what is going to happen every time they enter our drive and give them a process to follow, then they can relax just like the frequent fliers do.

Help Your Service Drive Run Smoothly by Making your Processes Mandatory

Joe: Sally, is there a list for managers, or suggestions that sort of make the process go a little smoother and more consistent that dealerships can be more accountable for when customers come in?

Sally: Yes, there are some easy things that we can put in place to help the entire drive run in a way that will make your customers feel comfortable and know what to expect.

First of all, we always recommend that you put your policies and procedures in writing. This can be part of a detailed job description. We recommend that you go over this with employees and new hires and have them sign off on it.

We want to make sure that they’re clear what the expectations are for the position, and that they know that they’re going to be held accountable to use these processes one hundred percent of the time. If we don’t do that, and we just put them out to follow people and learn, then they’re going to pick up all of their processes, and everyone is going to make it a little bit different, which is what causes that confusion.

Then we like to hold regular reviews so everybody is clear on how they’re performing and what they need to work on. You can even use that list from your job description to use as kind of a checklist when you do these reviews to see how they’re performing, as well as going over their performance and their customer satisfaction scores. As a matter of fact, we offer a detailed job description, and would like to offer it to your viewers for free if they contact us. We know it’s really a great tool and we like to provide it.

And then we need to offer continued training to review and role play all of these procedures as well as improve their skills along the way. Training is a continuous journey. We can’t ever stop. As soon as we stop learning, we get stagnant.

And we need to make sure these processes don’t go away, even when you’re busy. That’s a lot of times when advisors will go into a survival mode and take shortcuts, and pretty soon, that becomes the norm. So it’s going to be very important that every manager “inspects what they expect” quite often.

Finally, one of the most important things is managers have to lead by example. If you’re going to put all of these processes in place and hold your people accountable, you better be ready to step up and perform to that same level every time you get involved with a client. It’s really important to help your customers and your advisors know that you are going to lead by example.

Joe: Alright, she’s the founder and CEO of sw Service Solutions, and we always welcome her great content here. If you’d like to take advantage of that detailed job description information that Sally offered a minute ago, you can reach her at Sally, once again, thank you so much.

Sally: Thank you Joe. It’s always a pleasure to visit with you.

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