Customer Service – Are You Handling Customers Or Managing Traumas?

In the hustle and bustle of running a successful car dealership, it’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics of doing business and forget the reason for being in business in the first place – customers. When this happens, dealers move into a reactive behavior mode performing essentially, Customer Service Triage and racing from one trauma to another. Customer Service Triage is the process of sorting customer service issues into groups based on their need for or likely benefit from immediate attention is exactly the opposite of where every dealer wants to be.

By proactively performing regular Customer Service Check-ups, dealers can ensure their customer handling processes are being used consistently and properly, and that they are effective. In addition, these routine check-ups provide a unique opportunity to check-in with customers and get first-hand feedback on how the dealership is really performing. After all, dealerships are in the business of helping people buy cars, not in the business of selling vehicles.

Minimally, Customer Service Check-ups should take place every quarter and should cover every aspect of customer handling, from the moment a customer walks in the showroom to service and parts, to post-sales support and marketing. In essence, dealers must ask, “Are we truly putting our customers, our greatest asset, first?” These check-ups should be comprehensive, but not complex, and generally follow these six steps.

Step One: Are customer handling processes and excellence in customer service part of the business culture?

Every employee, starting with the highest level of management must treat customer service as an integral part of his or her job. Customer service should become as routine as breathing, using a cell phone, or grabbing the first cup of coffee every morning. It doesn’t have to be elaborate to make an impression, and often it’s the small things that customers remember. For instance:

– A phone call returned on time

– A polite, sincere greeting or smile

– A card to mark a special occasion like the anniversary date that a car was purchased

– A thank you note

– A friendly greeting from every employee in every interaction

Everyone needs to go out of their way to make sure each customer feels welcome, on the phone, in person or online, even if the customer is working with someone else. As part of the customer handling processes, be sure that standardized, detailed data is accurately collected and recorded for every customer. Schedule times, types, and dates for follow-up using automated systems and verify that the processes are being followed.

Step Two: Are we responding quickly and personally to every customer? Telus webmail down

Dealers, sales teams, and service personnel have the ability to respond quickly and personally to every customer. Every employee should put themselves into their customers’ shoes, image how they’d like to be treated, and then act accordingly. Are sales teams calling the customer to check on their satisfaction with the dealership? Has the service department called to set up a service appointment? Being proactive with customers is equally important as reacting to their concerns and questions. Check established processes that are set up to capture every interaction so future customer inquiries can be responded to quickly and with accurate information. With the Internet, disconnect the automatic response – every inquiry should be personalized and be answered by an individual from the dealership, not by a machine. Dealers should test this system by sending an inquiry from a non-dealer email account.

Step Three: Do we communicate proactively with our customers?

Communication is essential to keeping customers and leveraging them as references. Keeping customers apprised of the status of their vehicles – whether a new car that has been ordered from another dealer or from the factory, or a car that is being repaired or upgraded – is critical. Customer handling processes should clearly define steps to take if changes occur that potentially impact customer satisfaction. If a customer’s car may be delayed, let them know as soon as possible, and tell them honestly what the status is. If a car is promised by a certain date and there are glitches, tell the customer right away and let them know truthfully when you expect the issue will be resolved. Are systems automated to provide newsletters with dealership and manufacturer updates, news and other information? Is the customer data on file used to prospect based on family milestones where purchasing a car may be considered (a child’s upcoming 16th birthday or graduation)?

Step Four: Are we visibly and continuously appreciating our customers?

Customer handling processes should show customers that they are welcome and appreciated from the moment they are greeted throughout their experience, and through post-sales and service. Check to be sure that processes outline how to capture their data, identify their need, and link them with an associate who can truly help them purchase the car or services they want. Do customers who come to the dealership or service department feel welcome? Are simple amenities provided like coffee, water and a pleasant seating area? Do we keep a basket of toys handy just in case children come along with their parents? Fewer distractions result in a more positive experience and ultimately in more sales. Most important, do we thank the customer – for the visit, interest, time and sale?

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