For dealers, a part of their business that has proven profitable—yet at the same time difficult to perfect—is the service department. There are many basic principles to follow in order to run a service department that delivers the utmost in customer satisfaction. The underlying similarity in these principles is effective communication.
Having skilled technicians and good, quality systems are essential to having a successful and profitable service department. Providing satisfactory service that brings customers back is vital to success as the returning customer is where the money lies. Whether it is the signage or employees doing the communicating, when done successfully it can mean the difference between a satisfied and discontented customer.
SURROUNDINGS THAT GUIDE AND SOOTHE
The moment a customer first walks into a dealership is when their service experience begins. This is why the layout of the dealership and service department are essential. The surroundings and layout should communicate to customers what they need to do next when entering the facility.
“When you walk into some dealerships, you can’t even find the shop,” explains service trainer Ed Kovalchick of Net Profit Inc. in Alabaster, AL. “To begin with, the service department needs to be well-marked. You should have directional and informational signs telling the customers where to go and what to do when they get there.” The customer’s experience with the service department will not start out well if they are confused as soon as they enter the dealership doors, unsure of where to go. Keeping the reception and service areas clearly labeled is essential.
Near the service area or reception counter, any technician certification should be proudly displayed. Posted certificates will put customers at ease when dropping off equipment, communicating to them the high skill level of the technicians working on their equipment. “Customers want security in knowing that their equipment is going to be fixed correctly,” shares Jim Roche, EETC executive director. “One thing that gives that to the customer is having all of the technician certifications from manufacturers and the EETC posted wherever work orders are written up.” Posting certification in plain view or speaking with customers about certification offers them a sense of security that their product is going to be repaired properly the first time.
INTERACTION WITH STAFF
The person working the service counter and speaking with the customers is just as important as the certificates that surround it. Customers should be greeted by a professional and knowledgeable individual who they feel comfortable handing their equipment over to. The person writing up the order should also have an impressive amount of product knowledge and the ability to clearly communicate and discuss that knowledge with the customer.
“Customers are paying for knowledge, so there should be a demonstration of some,” says Kovalchick. “When they drop off their equipment and ask questions, they should get them answered well or they will lose confidence.” If a customer trusts the knowledge of employees in the service department, it will further guarantee retention of that customer.
The ability to listen is a vital part of being an effective communicator. Along with product knowledge, the service department staff should show they care about the customer’s equipment by listening carefully to the issue they are having with the product. “The customer should be greeted by someone who is compassionate about his or her product,” advises Roche. “When the dealership shows a connection with the customer on a problem, the customer is going to feel really good about choosing that dealer.”
KNOWING THE NEEDS OF THE CUSTOMER