Quick: What’s the top reason for customer dissatisfaction? Unmet expectations. And while failed expectations happen for many reasons, at the core of every disappointing service experience is a breakdown in trust.

Whether that happens due to a broken promise time or another example of miscommunication, it still means that an advisor or manager overpromised results or underdelivered on educating the customer – the very thing that builds trust. Indeed, most subpar customer experiences happen because they either don’t trust you, don’t understand, don’t see a need or don’t feel there is any benefit or value.

The simple fact is by explaining the need and educating the customer, service employees build trust and show value organically. Of course, doing that starts with the typical four “Cs” of repair order writing: complaint, cause, correction and confirmation. But to go above and beyond, remember to apply the following new four “Cs” to your routine. They just may help improve CSI scores and build more profitable orders:

#1. Courtesy

Customers come to your service drive looking for help. Often, they know little or nothing about the mechanical operation of their vehicle. As a result, they arrive distrustful and on the look-out for broken promises. Add to that the fact that vehicle service and repair isn’t usually the highlight of someone’s day, and it’s easy to see how a little courtesy can disarm the crankiest customer. Make it a point to develop a routine based on personalization and courtesy. From a cheery “hello” to a personal approach, courtesy goes far in establishing the right tone of the conversation.

#2. Caring

You’re not filling out one of 20 repair orders. You’re helping a fellow person get their vehicle serviced with the least amount of friction to their day. Caring means going above and beyond to overdeliver in those occasional moments when a customer needs a little more than the standard operating procedure. Caring is making the effort, even though you may not have to do so. When that happens – when you care about the experience you help to create – that’s when you deliver on the business objective of happy customers and profitable service. Buying into the service process, from the technology you use to the established advisor routine, is the first step toward creating an experience founded in empathy, caring, and respect.

#3. Comfort

Making your customers comfortable doesn’t mean buying overstuffed furniture for the service waiting room. Rather, it symbolized the comfort of expertise: when you explain the value of a service, and “sell the why,” you’re creating an environment of comfort from which the customer will base his or her decisions. Remember, chances are they have been taken advantage of at another repair shop. Showing your commitment (to them) and expertise (as a service professional) increases their comfort zone.

#4. Confidence

Having confidence in what you say makes people feel confident in you. That’s a simple truism we all know, and one that’s especially important when it comes to service. Think of it this way: as the source of information, you’re the expert – and the customer takes your lead. If you project a friendly, assured and confident persona, they’ll be far more likely to trust what you say and agree with your suggestions. Remember, however, that confidence without the steak is just a bunch of arrogance with a whole lot of sizzle. So, if you act confidently without being able to back up those promises, the trust you build will soon deteriorate.

The bottom line is what trust does: make people feel important and empowered. Or as Mary Kay Ash said: “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.” Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”

By Ridge McCoy

Ridge McCoy is a regional performance manager for Dealer-FX. With 20 years’ experience in the automotive space as a technician, service advisor and shop manager, Ridge has participated in over 1,800 hours of sales, leadership and customer service training. He holds an Automotive Management degree from AMI, a business degree from Northwest University and has served as mechanical chair of the Automotive Service Association in King County, Washington.

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Summer is almost over. And it would seem the years of ever-increasing new car sales are also coming to an end, which means service departments will soon be more vital than ever — a fact that underlines the need for an effective operational plan.

Here are three headlines that show just how much things are changing:

How’s Your Technician Retention Plan?

A report published by Automotive News has showcased the current acute shortage of technicians. Simply put, it’s already a problem — and it’s getting worse as older employees retire. The numbers tell the story: According to automotive research firm Carlisle & Co., retirements in the coming years will create a shortage of up to 25,000 positions. 

Why it matters: According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), there’s an average of 19 techs per dealership, so this is a critical issue. Dealers can change the culture of the service drive to reflect a customer-focused, technology-driven approach to communication and workflow operations. That will appeal to tech-savvy Millennials.  Management will also appreciate the efficiency gains and younger recruits will feel at home in an environment that uses mobile devices.

New Car Sales are Down – Is it Time to Worry?

New vehicle sales lost ground compared to the first half of the year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean customers aren’t interested in purchasing vehicles. Demand is softening and consumer preferences are shifting toward larger vehicles. Case in point: According to Reuters, July passenger car sales dropped, but SUVs and trucks generally increased.

There are also signs the used car market is heating up. In July, the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index reported that used sales reached a 39.2 million SAAR. That’s the best figure since 2012.  

Why it matters: Any decline in new car demand is noteworthy. As competition increases, the entire dealership operation needs to operate at higher levels, especially fixed ops. Given this sort of volatile market, dealership managers should focus their time and resources on profit centers such as the service drive.  

New Technology is Good, but Iteration and Refinement are Better.

All the recent talk about autonomous vehicles has made it seem that no one will ever have to drive again.

Or not.

Broad adoption of self-driving cars is still years away. Autonomous leaders like Waymo are expanding their testing, taking things slow, learning and racking up miles. Why? Consider this recent report published in Automotive News: almost 50% of consumers surveyed said they would never buy a fully autonomous vehicle, and 85% said drivers should always have the option to take the wheel.

Why it matters: With their lives potentially hanging in the balance, consumers are thinking twice about handing the steering wheel to a “robot.” And that’s not a surprise. Disruptive innovations require ongoing development, testing, and refinement to provide reliable products that deliver lasting benefits. Waymo and its peers are dedicated to developing a technology-driven solution that meets a clear need.

In much the same way, dealership leaders should scrutinize service technology in terms of what how it meets evolving customer expectations…and how it fits into the overall technology footprint of the dealership. How does the service experience you deliver align with customer expectations? Does it provide a transparent and personal approach to customer service needs? Most importantly, if your technology is meeting today’s needs, is it also being constantly improved to meet tomorrow’s needs? Technology that’s not keeping you one step ahead will just be a part of tomorrow’s problems.

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?

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