It’s the goal of every service department to enjoy excellent customer retention and loyalty. Other than tempting them with coupons and incentives, what can you do to keep bringing those customers back in?
Here are 5 things I have seen successful service departments do over the years that bring their customers back for service:
1. Assign Each Customer a Service Advisor – By assigning each customer their own service advisor you have a better chance to build rapport and trust. The sales department assigns a customer to a salesperson for this exact reason, so why wouldn’t the same philosophy apply to service? This practice allows customers and service advisors to build a relationship which then extends to the dealership. When customers deal with the same person for each service visit, they no longer have to explain past repairs to the service advisor, have more familiarity and are more at ease with the entire service process.
2. Notify Customers of ETA Changes in Real-Time – There’s nothing more frustrating to a customer than planning their day around a repair based on the estimated time their vehicle is supposed to be ready, then an hour or two later, when they expect the service to be done, they find out it’s going to be MUCH longer. Text, email or call your customer (depending on their preference) with regular vehicle status updates. If Domino’s Pizza can do this, why not your service department? Real-time notifications keep customers informed and lessen the chances that they will be irritated and will lower the # of inbound phone calls to your service department.
3. Provide Direct Lines to Service Advisors – Nobody likes phone trees when calling into any business. Especially if it makes it difficult to talk to a live person. Lessen friction by simply giving direct phone numbers to the customer for their assigned service advisor. Customers will no longer be upset by being unable to reach a live person; the service advisor they speak to will be familiar to them; and the customers should get their questions answered faster. This makes for a better customer experience and more efficient service department.
4. Allow Customers to Review Invoices in Advance – Being surprised by a bill larger than expected is not something most people react well to. If you can email or text the final invoice to the customer, they can then review and approve it — and with today’s technology even pay the invoice before coming into the dealership. This also gives the customer the opportunity to ask any questions up front and removes the possibility of confrontation and aggravation at the dealership.
5. Follow Up After Service – Of course, for a customer to feel special and cared about, they shouldn’t be forgotten once they leave. A simple call by their assigned service advisor to verify they are happy with the service they received, to check if they have any questions and to inform the customer that they look forward to their next visit, makes a far greater impact than most people realize. In addition, it allows the service advisor to hear, address and correct any problems before the customer either fills out a survey or decides to go somewhere else.
Consider copying these best practices from other successful service departments. As a result you should enjoy happier customers, less friction, increased customer retention and profitability.
Author: Ujj Nath
Ujj Nath is the Founder and CEO of myKaarma (www.mykaarma.com), the cloud-based conversational commerce software that’s revolutionizing the auto service industry. He has 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and automotive industry executive. In 1990, prior to myKaarma, Ujj founded Syncata, a major provider of business consulting and systems integration services. In 2004 he successfully negotiated the sale of the company to ProQuest Business Solutions (NYSE: PQE), which was subsequently acquired by Snap-On Tools (NYSE:SNA). At Snap-On, Ujj was Vice President of Global Accounts and headed the Professional Services Organization for Snap-on Business Solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.