By showing compassion for the customer’s equipment and listening carefully, you can learn a lot about the customer and their needs. Some basic guidelines for satisfying customer needs include fixing their equipment quickly and correctly the first time, and returning it to them in clean condition. Going beyond the basics of satisfaction is possible when you know the customer’s specific needs. Conversing extensively with the customer is a great way to learn what their specific needs are.
“We know most of our customers personally, so we try to give employees some background on what the customer is using the equipment for and what the customer expects from the equipment,” shares Mark Saulter of Saulco Enterprises, a dealership in Bracebridge, Ontario. “Many of our employees get to know the customer on a personal level as well. This personalized service, an age old successful business approach, is sadly lacking in our mass merchant, disposable society.”
This personalized and attentive service is something customers won’t find when doing business with a big box store. Their relationship with the business usually ends once the product or equipment is paid for. Saulter, like many outdoor power equipment dealers, chooses to take a different approach.
“We offer the customer a partnership for the life of their equipment,” explains Saulter. “Our approach is the opposite of the box stores who have an impersonal, one-time relationship with the customer based solely on a business transaction.”
CONSUMER AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS
Listening to and getting to know a customer on an individual basis is a great way to learn their individual needs and desires. When dealing with commercial and consumer customers, some of what they need from the service department varies significantly.
“We try to treat both our consumer and commercial customers the same,” says Jeff Deen of the Deen Implement Co. in Forney, TX. “In each of their minds, their needs are the most important so we try to make them all feel important.” Dealers should express to each customer that they are a priority.
Satisfying both the consumer and commercial customer in the service department can be a difficult task. Deen agrees that communicating with and knowing them as individuals better assures satisfaction. “The best solution is to try and understand and know each of your customers individually. Then it will be easier to try and meet their individual expectations.”
Once a clear understanding of the customer’s
expectations has been established, communicate to them how you will meet their needs and
Continuous and open communication
Keeping the lines of communication clear and open, throughout the service experience, shows the commercial and consumer customers their worth. Clearly and accurately explaining services and billing initially and throughout the process prevents surprising and possibly upsetting the customer.
“Explain to the customer what they are paying for, what you did, why you did it and what it cost,” urges Kovalchick. “People want to know what they are paying for.” Be sure to also discuss billing and service details when equipment is delivered or picked up so customers aren’t confronted with a confusing repair invoice.
“Communication is key,” agrees Saulter, who continuously communicates with customers about the health of their equipment. “When performing repairs, we advise the customer on the problems found and what options are available for correcting the problem. If any additional maintenance items are noted, we will review these with the customer as well.”
At each visit, Saulter keeps the customers informed on items that are starting to wear but do not yet require immediate replacement. This helps the customer to plan for future maintenance requirements. By communicating throughout the whole process, the customer feels as though they are a part of the solution.
When the communication is lacking or the service disappoints, you may end up with a very unhappy customer who will hit back with two blows: They will not return to your shop for service, and will tell all their friends to do the same. An angry customer can be really damaging to the success of the service department. This is why repairing those relationships is vital. “It is important to never hesitate to correct something that has been done wrong,” says Deen. “Always seem willing to help and understand the issue completely.”