Customer satisfaction in the automotive services space may end with the quality of work, but it begins with your interactions with each customer. Sure, your auto service customers want the work done correctly, but their experiences with your front office staff and mechanics really shape how they feel. When you boost customer satisfaction and get those word-of-mouth referrals that help you grow your business and expand your customer base, you can keep customers coming back to your shop. Take a look at a few specific areas that tend to have the biggest impact on customer happiness.
How Easy Is Your Scheduling Process?
Let’s face it: No one likes to take their car to the shop. If you simplify the scheduling process, you take the first step in creating a more pleasant experience for your customers. Most people call to schedule appointments, but many prefer the option to schedule online. Fully 13 percent of customers wish they could schedule online, according to a J.D. Power study of Canadian customer service experiences.
Even if you don’t add online scheduling, your customers want your phone scheduling system to be as clear and easy as possible. They want to call quickly and get their appointment on the books. When your customer service staff answers calls quickly, treat scustomers well, and acts efficiently, you end up with happy customers. There may be ways you can update your system to make it quick and easy for your customer service reps, so they can find vacancies quickly and reserve the spots for customers, reducing overall wait time on the phone.
Are You Providing Top Quality Service?
The quality of customer service isn’t the only deciding factor in whether or not a customer returns. Your crew also need to complete the work well. Hiring experienced mechanics to handle everything from routine oil changes to extensive repairs is the cornerstone of service quality. Quality diagnostics and tools aid your mechanics in sorting out the issues with vehicles.
Even with quality mechanics in place, it’s up to you to set high expectations. Outline procedures for different types of services and repairs. All staff members should know exactly how to handle different situations and what standard of work is expected. Have checks and balances in place to cut down on the chances of a missed step during routine maintenance, ensuring that customers get quality, reliable service every time.
What Does Your Service Area Look Like?
If you think of the typical auto service shop, what does the waiting area look like? If you envision uncomfortable seating, year-old tattered magazines, and the smell of oil, they you know what your customers don’t want to experience. Set your customers at ease by making your service waiting area comfortable and inviting. Comfortable seating is a good start. Offer a mix of chairs and tables so people can eat, work on computers, or do other tasks. Warm colors and appealing decor put people at ease. Add plants, aquariums, and fountains to create an inviting feel. Complementary Wi-Fi is an extra touch that customers appreciate, and free drinks and snacks are a bonus that makes the experience pleasant (and they give your customers something to tell their friends about).
How Helpful Are Your Service Advisers?
Your service advisers bridge the gap between your customers and mechanics. They explain what’s going on with the vehicle and provide info on any extra recommended services. The service adviser can have one of the biggest impacts on the experience since that person has the most contact with customers. A study from J.D. Power shows that the service adviser handles four of the top five key performance indicators that influence the customer experience.
Service advisers have the power to put customers at ease. They should meet with customers quickly and listen well to understand what the customer needs. Answering questions, addressing concerns, and making complex mechanical issues easy to understand also top the list of things service advisers do.
Customers appreciate seeing more information about the services performed via tablets. The average customer doesn’t know a lot about the mechanical aspects of car service. Even when your service advisers tell them what needs to be done, it’s often still confusing. A handheld tablet can give the customer a visual that makes the recommended services easier to understand.
How Smooth Is Your Vehicle Delivery Process?
Vehicle delivery is your final chance to make a lasting impression. Timing of delivery impacts the customer’s experience. Aim to keep your delivery process to no more than five minutes. That means the customer should be able to wrap up the paperwork, pay for the service, and be out the door with the vehicle waiting in five minutes or less.
Customers want their vehicles in at least the same condition they brought it to you in. Use disposable floor mats in the car to keep dirt and grease off the carpets. A quick wipe-down of the steering wheel and other surfaces your mechanics touch inside the car removes any accidental dirt or grease on those surfaces. You can also add little extras like an air freshener or quick run through your on-site car wash.
Pull the vehicle up to the door so customers can walk out and get right in when they’re done. They don’t want to search for their vehicles in a busy lot or walk a long distance to get to their car. Always make sure customers gets an enthusiastic and sincere thank you from the last person who has contact with them. That might be the cashier, service adviser, or even the person who pulls the car up to the door. You want the final interaction to be a positive one.
Improving the little things, from service scheduling to vehicle delivery, keeps your customers happy. When you focus on those areas, you increase your chances of repeat customers and recommendations for your existing client base.