Service Customer Contact: Everything You Do Counts!

Think about this. In service, you have 8 distinctly different customer contact points that can either boost your service traffic or send customers away forever. And as simple as these contact points are, I bet you never actually sat down and thought about them or had a meeting with your people about how important each one is. This is a brief discussion about each step, but it is enough to get you thinking and maybe enough to get you to have a meeting with your people about just how important each step is – so here goes...

1. Advertising – The first real contact step is advertising or reaching out to attract customers into your store. Pay attention to what you send out, how you send it out, how it looks, what your offers attention to everything because this is your silent salesperson and the way customers see your store before they “see your store.” Be consistent with the look and feel of your ads, keep prices competitive and offers timely and engage your customers with something other than just a cheap oil change coupon. And supplement (don’t substitute) your direct mail with email – but make sure it matches the mail offers and sends a consistent message.

2. Phones – If you are successful with your advertising then customers will call your store. About 85% of all service customers call first and for the most part, dealers do a horrible job at answering the phone. Calls either go unanswered, are put on terminal hold or get answered by someone that just blurts out the price with no features, benefits or advantages or reasons why the caller should choose your store. And most of the time, callers are not even asked if they would like to make an appointment. Really guys – that is the only reason to answer the phone in the first place – to try to get customers in your store. Answer the phone, build a relationship, give reasons to do business with you and ask if they would like to come in today or tomorrow – it’s really that simple.

3. Greeting – It may sound simple, but the old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression has never been more accurate than when customers enter your service drive. So often I see advisors buried in their computer screens ignoring customers that just chose to drive past all of the other places to get to your store, only to be treated like they are the red-headed step children at a family picnic. Look up, smile, welcome the people to your store that are standing there with money in their hand, OK?

4. Write-up – Here is where the rubber meets the road guys. Customers are constantly sizing you up when it comes to the write up process. They are watching and listening to see if your advisors are paying attention and showing they care or if they are just trying to sell them something. Make sure your team knows how to slow things down just a bit, make sure they take a minute to get to know the customer, ask about driving habits and ask if there is anything that is bothering them about their car that they didn’t think of on their initial request. Make sure you check their tires and wipers and explain about your multi-point inspection report and open recall check that you do at no-charge

5. Wait – By wait, I mean to take a minute to see what it's like to wait in your customer lounge. Is it clean and inviting? Are your restrooms spotless? Is the TV blaring and is there coffee and sodas and water available? And don’t stop there – make sure your people stay in touch with your customers that are waiting – and remind your people that every customer is waiting – even the ones that you took home – so keep them informed and always do what you say you will do.

6. Selling – This can be the most important part of the process. If your advisors and techs are too aggressive you are going to see it in your future repair order counts. Don’t get me wrong, I think you should sell every single service that needs to be sold and be aggressive about it – but you also have to realize that you can shear a sheep a thousand times, but you can only skin it once. Don’t let your people get too “spiff” crazy and don’t let them forget about important things like honesty, integrity, character and long term retention.

7. Check Out – I honestly believe more customers are lost at check out than at any other step in this process. If the bill doesn’t match the estimate, if the repair isn’t explained correctly, if the shop supply charge is outrageous...well you get the picture. And then there is the evil cashier window that I believe single handedly ruins more customers than comebacks ever could – because it is such a bottleneck...because the cashier doesn’t have all of the answers...because, well because it is just a bad idea to make people stand in line to pay their bill. If you want to improve your CSI and CP RO Count – get rid of your cashier and make your advisors do the check out – it really is that simple.

8. Delivery – The last thing customers remember is how it felt when they leave your store after a service. Was the car clean? Was it easy to exit the service area? Did their advisor walk them to the car and answer all of their questions? The delivery should be like a Valet, in my opinion. This is what they will remember most – and what will hopefully encourage them to call your store again the next time they need service.

Here’s the Deal. If you are open to hearing about what a lot of other dealers are doing to grow their service business, sell more cars and make more money – let’s set up a 15 minute meeting – and even if what they are doing isn’t right for your store at least you’ll know what else is out there and you won’t be left out of the loop. What are you waiting for? Check us out at or give us a call at 866.227.7337.

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