Recently I’ve seen several blogs and articles about the customer experience and an article in Automotive News really caught my attention and sparked my interest. It is all about how seven minutes is far too long for a service customer to wait before they are even acknowledged.
Seven minutes doesn’t seem like a long time. But when you think about it from a customer’s perspective, standing there totally ignored while waiting to be assisted — those seven minutes could seem like forever!
According to the article, Lee Certilman, owner of Nardy Honda Smithtown in St. James, N.Y., has a pet peeve: waiting in line. As he walked his service department, he noticed customers waiting to be helped by service advisors with no other customers in front of them. Turns out they were finishing up paperwork from the previous customer. Certilman noticed this several times and so felt he had to do something to handle the situation. He used his security cameras to gather information and discovered that this was not an anomaly. In fact he saw one customer waiting for seven long minutes, so he decided to come up with a remedy.
The dealership sells 3,000 units per year and enjoys a CSI score of 93 to 98 percent. The high volume and CSI scores show that the dealership is doing something right. As one of the top three Honda dealers in the district, Certilman is proud of his customer service. However, he realized something needed to change as it was obvious some customers were forced to wait too long and as a result were receiving a less than excellent experience.
But what could he do to illustrate to the service advisors, cashiers, and other front-line employees exactly how long seven minutes FEELS to a customer?
He had them sit in front of him, in silence, for seven minutes without speaking.
According to Certilman, it hit home for his service advisors.
Customer experience is about more than just providing great amenities. Don’t forget the importance of the human element. To today’s busy consumers, in many cases, amenities may actually be secondary to the service experience itself– the helpfulness, attentiveness and feeling of welcome they receive upon arrival. Today, speed and efficiency are vital to a good customer experience.
This high-volume dealer is very likely servicing more cars per month than it sells in a year. Consumers already think BUYING a car takes too long. How do you think they will feel if they find dropping their car off for service takes too long as well?
Many excellent technologies and services exist that can help improve the customer experience and expedite service lane efficiency. From scheduling, to the customer welcome, to the vehicle walk around and inspections, to customer interaction and presentation of recommendations, simple process analysis and change can make a huge difference.
All we’re talking about here is seven minutes. And that’s not even seven minutes to complete the transaction — but seven minutes waiting to be acknowledged. Ensuring that your service advisors quickly and efficiently acknowledge and welcome a customer can make a huge difference. It’s a simple thing to do and does not need some huge process change.
That Keurig. Those free pastries. That car wash. They mean nothing if the customer has to wait too long for their presence to be recognized.
Consider taking the time to analyze what’s going on in your service department. If it means sitting your advisors in front of you for seven minutes of silence in order for them to get it, that seven minutes could be worth more than any investment in a dealership movie theater, Starbucks, or other amenity.
Author: Tim Clay
Tim Clay, Chief Revenue Officer, Confident Financial Solutions. Tim Clay is Chief Revenue Officer with Confident Financial Solutions, a consumer finance company that offers an auto repair financing program for service centers and their customers. Clay has more than twenty years of experience in the automotive retail space and is a graduate of NADA Dealer Candidate Academy. Previously, he was COO and Co-Founder of ClickMotive, an automotive technology company. He has instrumented one successful automotive startup exit and one successful medical company exit.