So just this week I’m conducting a customer service manager workshop for my good-sized Chevy client, and I asked the mostly experienced group if they could define “buyer’s remorse.” I didn’t get too many responses which hit the nail directly on the head; but, one recently anointed CSM, a quite young but aggressive female go-getter stated, “When you get home, you hate yourself.” She understood, and we all chuckled a bit at the response.
What’s the job of a professional customer service manager / ASM / service writer / service consultant or whatever appellation the next inventive bozo dreams up? I asked that question too, and got some interesting responses. Among the mostly mundane definitions, this young lady replied, “To take what the customer says and interpret it for the technician.” Pretty astute I thought since she had only been on the job for some three months.
What does the dealer-owner expect from a professional CSM I asked? I got the standard “make the customer happy” song and dance; however, to my surprise the same gal says with a big grin, “To ensure the customer remains a customer.” Wow I thought, she does get it, and all were somewhat impressed.
I opened with this dialogue which led to multiple discussions and applications. One in particular centered around the CSM / customer interaction surrounding the need for the diagnosis of a concern. While some vehicle-owner concerns are obvious, some are actually just the need for – some additional customer edumacation (“I ain’t got no AC – I know it’s broke – that there’s warranty ain’t it —uhhh, push this button sir”). However, some are factual concerns which require a professional technical analysis to decipher the actual root origin. Those obviously require a different verbal approach when explaining such to a concerned patron. Here’s the rub.
I was covering a vintage racing series at Watkins Glen a few weeks ago for a racing magazine I have been writing with for many years. A long-time and very dear friend of mine where I grew up nearby (owns three dealerships), was with me when, at a vintage sports car Concours, the question came up of what it takes to diagnose “them new cars with all the electrical stuff.” My dealer pal quickly explained to this mature group of older car owners that today the tech just hooks up the computer and it tells them what to do. Hearing that riposte caused a bit of pee to run down my leg, but I kept silent.
This perception of a computer always and easily exposing every technical issue is a complete farce, promulgated by such fakers as Auto Bones advertising that they will extract the computer code for a check engine light for no charge and tell you your birth date too, which leads all the unknowing to calculate they will then simply purchase the replacement part, and Walla, all fixed. When Hell freezes over I say.
There are literally dozens of microprocessors (some lorries have 100 plus) measuring essentially everything and anything a vehicle is capable of these days – and that fits with the 20,000 plus individual parts on the average bucket. These valuable measuring tools, let’s say for simplicity, take the temperatures of their responsibility. When the temperature range is exceeded either way, they send a signal which may or may not cause the check engine light to come on. Whether hidden or not, something (emphasize something here) is or was creating an out of boundary issue. Going through that process can take an educated electronic wizard and a streak of luck at times – for which these techs seldom get completely paid, especially on flat-rate commission.
In the U.S. there are probably less than a million techs capable of such analytical analysis, based on the figures I read. So, the other 350 million plus peeps here don’t have a clue, and how this analysis fee is presented when necessary, is critical to eliminate the dreaded aforementioned buyer’s remorse. Considering all I have just noted, simply saying – what I hear too often – “That’llbee $128 forda tech ta lookatit” – is a sad commentary to say the least.
Heck, looking at it is the easy part and it accomplishes absolutely nothing. The diagnostic process is often extremely complex, time consuming, aggravating (idiot engineer design), and nonsensical. To present it as anything less, when Average Joe Customer is under the impression that a simple plug-in tells all, is grounds for losing a valuable consumer who can’t digest the perceived unreasonable fee. Sadly, some (a lot) of our own dealer employees think the same cause they ain’t edumacated either.
What all of us have to accept is that few patrons whine (compared to the whole lot). Most just pay the bill and exit, never to return, while we calculate that all is peachy. When I was conducting customer focus groups, fees and charges were always on the agenda, and on top of that the diagnostic fee usually surfaced early. Know this, I found that few understood or accepted the fee as real or needed – that has always troubled me. Consequently, when I train customer / assistant service managers (writers), that important process tops the list. Losing the sheep over the diagnostic fee is basically a mortal sin as I see it (if you are Catholic you will get that).
I have developed a two-page Diagnostic Worksheet which explains what goes into the diagnostic process for the most common items techs face. I review it all the time in training and my clients use it to support their fees by reciting the written details when the diagnostic process is applied. I will email it to you if you are interested, for the exorbitant fee of zero. Just email “absolutely no money (including handling and shipping fees)” to Ed@NetProfitGroup.com, and put on the subject line “Diagnostic Worksheet – Edumacation Is the Key” – and be sure to spell that correctly so I will know you are serious. I guarantee that you won’t get buyer’s remorse or toenail fungus.
Author: Ed Kovalchick
Ed Kovalchick is the CEO and founder of Net Profit Inc., Alabaster, AL, an international fixed operation consulting and training firm located in Alabaster AL. Mr. Kovalchick and his firm have assisted hundreds of dealers and manufacturers, and conducted workshops throughout the world for thousands of students since 1979. He has written columns for Dealer Magazine since its inception.