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Very few sales managers would punish a salesperson upon receiving a complaint that they are calling, e-mailing or texting a customer too much. In fact, after assuring the customer that they will have the salesperson stop, that sales manager will probably follow up by giving the salesperson a high five. And, to ensure this communication can happen, most dealerships lay down quite a bit of cash for technology and tools that increase the chances of reaching a potential buyer. They have CRMs, cell phones, chat services and texting capabilities. However, despite all of this technology, there is one area in many dealerships that tends to fail at effective communication with customers. And that is in the service department.
Communication with customers doesn’t start and stop in sales. In fact, it’s even more important to communicate with the customer post-sale -- service revenue may be the only revenue stream you see from that customer for the next three years or so.
Communication is the key to building customer loyalty and trust and to ensuring that the customer has a good experience. Why force the customer to continuously contact the dealership to inquire about the status of their vehicle when you could proactively notify them via e-mail, text, or whatever method of contact they prefer? Service advisors certainly get frustrated when they can’t get a hold of a customer to discuss service recommendations. And, a customer can get just as frustrated from a perceived lack of communication on behalf of the dealership.
Communication should start from the moment the customer pulls into the service drive. Try to make the experience a good one the moment the customer arrives. I know things can get busy out there. But, customers that are made to wait to be greeted, or that are brushed off by a busy advisor, begin their experience at that dealership on a sour note. If the service drive is really so busy that it’s difficult to greet every customer in a timely manner, it may be wise to consider installing a service greeter in the drive during your busy times. Once that customer has been greeted and consults with a service advisor, ask how they would like the dealership to communicate the results of the vehicle inspection and the status of their repair to them.
This is especially important when dealing with recall repairs, as these customers are more likely to be irritated and upset to begin with. A soft touch, reassurance, and some hand-holding will go a long way to transform an upset customer into a repeat one.
With an estimated 47 million vehicles subject to some recall or another, it’s highly likely that you will see quite a bit of recall work in the foreseeable future. Take the time to truly be attentive to customers. Utilize technology to regularly reach out to and communicate with your customers. When your customers are in the dealership, pay attention and make it a great experience. Your customers will be more responsive when you need them and appreciate you more. And, then you can perhaps turn that recall work into future customer pay and more lucrative opportunities.