Browsing articles tagged with " service"
Jan
30

Why Consumers Are Navigating Away from Traditional Customer Service

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

In a very interesting dynamic shift, consumers are increasingly changing how they want to interact with businesses for customer support.

Just five years ago, think about how irritating it was to navigate through phone trees, just to finally reach a support agent, explain the problem, then be transferred to another agent, repeat your story and hope they are the right person to resolve the problem.

We have put up with this for years – but times they are a changing. There is a new sheriff in town that, surprisingly, is much more empowered. Let me tell you a true story.

Last week, a friend of mine discovered a fraudulent purchase on his credit card. Within three minutes he was notified of the activity via an email from his credit card issuer stating that a “card not present” transaction had been made. He also received an order confirmation and so immediately called the company, explaining that he did not place the order. The company proceeded to claim they couldn’t cancel the order and said he would need to contact his credit card company. Frustrated, he asked to speak to a supervisor who then proceeded to tell him the same thing. Normally, this major brand enjoys extreme brand loyalty and is all smiles and very helpful when it comes to customer service. But not this time.

He then called his credit card company who told him they would monitor the charge but couldn’t dispute it until it posted to his account. He was irritated that the company where the order was placed couldn’t cancel the order, since it had been made such a short time ago and had not yet been sent through.

What did he do? He took to Twitter to voice his displeasure. And guess what? The company responded and asked him to direct message them his issue. At first, he got the same response as that from the reps and supervisor he had previously spoken to.

So, now even more frustrated, he returned to Twitter and again voiced his unhappiness. Within 15 minutes he got a message back from the company’s Twitter account saying that, after their team had reviewed the matter, the order had been cancelled and charges reversed. Of course, he was happy and his faith in the company restored. BUT this brought up an interesting observation.

Both the initial support rep and the supervisor claimed there was absolutely nothing they could do to help him – that he would have to go through his credit card company. But the social media team WERE able to help him. Since the social media team were able to handle the problem and get the customer’s concern taken care of, does that mean they are more empowered to handle problems than the support rep or the supervisor?

There are several similar stories you can read on the Internet. The next time there’s a problem with the same company, do you think my friend will be more likely to CALL or to TWEET?

For customer retention and loyalty, consistency in service is crucial. When it’s not, consumers will use the communication channel that solves their problem over the one that does not.

With the introduction of social media teams empowered to provide solutions, consumers are quickly navigating away from phones and towards digital interactions. These digital teams seem to not only have more empathy, but are also more motivated to help and empowered to make decisions; is this all due to the power of social media? No company wants their brand’s name and image dragged through the mud in social forums on social media. And that motivation is a powerful one indeed.

Some customers may not even think to turn to social media for help and so find themselves unhappy after a poor customer experience with no resolution in sight. Those are the customers you need to worry about. If the company’s social media team had not in fact saved the day for my friend, that company may have damaged his brand loyalty.

Ensure that every issue is handled on a case-by-case basis, and that each support touchpoint in your dealership is empowered to solve problems. You will find your customers are happier, no matter how they choose to interact with you, and will have a much easier time retaining loyal customers.

Jan
16

Communication Makes Everything Easier

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Communication Makes Everything Easier

In our fast-paced society, some of the things done just a short time ago to impress and retain customers no longer work. Today, business owners can’t always keep on top of the latest and greatest ways to keep their customers loyal.  However, there is one thing that hasn’t changed much over the years – personal interaction without expecting immediate returns: a friendship of sorts.

Communication has always been one of the keys to long-term customer satisfaction.  Without any motive to sell your services, or set up another appointment, something as simple as a follow-up phone call can have a tremendous effect on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Even if you fail to reach the customer, leaving a brief message could still make them feel appreciated.

Simply pick up the phone and talk to your customers. This could score more business for you in the future.  Who should be making these calls?  Ideally, the person who will be interacting with the customer in the future. While that may not always be possible, this personalized service and attention to each customer is what will impress upon them that you consider them important, value their business and care about them — even when they aren’t actively at your dealership buying a vehicle or getting it serviced.

Imagine “Jack”, one of your service advisors.  On a slow day, he takes a list of customers he previously assisted.  Away from distractions, he picks up the phone and spends just a of couple minutes on each call. About an hour later, he may have touched twenty customers, and somewhere in the mix, and without Jack’s prompting, a customer mentions that they want to schedule their next service visit.  Without even trying, Jack has new business lined up for your dealership. A little time spent cultivating his customer base today could yield significant business in the future, both from these customers and any they refer to the dealership by being happy, satisfied customers.

If you have the resources, and your employees value customer relationships, have them take a bit of time to pick up the phone and bring a smile to your customers’ faces. It’s not so much what is said on the phone, it’s simply being remembered.

It’s the personal thought that counts and it’s that personalized attention you bring to customers that will keep them coming back.

Nov
28

The Essential Ingredient to Customer Loyalty

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on The Essential Ingredient to Customer Loyalty

When it comes to customer loyalty, one thing I find that many businesses fail to analyze — and perhaps one of the most essential ingredients to earning and keeping customer loyalty – is quality.

Customers may love you and love your staff; they may keep coming into your beautiful facility packed with all kinds luxuries. But, in the end, if the output from their visit isn’t of the expected quality, you may quickly find that the customer’s eyes cloud over and they start to look at taking their business to your nearest competitor.

Examples of poor quality in service could include failing to fix a vehicle right the first time; forgetting to put the air filter in the car; communication errors; mistakes on the bill; or even something as small as returning the vehicle with a dirty carpet.

Sometimes the customer will inform you and you can immediately address the situation. But other times the customer may just stay quiet and/or not notice until later. Either way, there was a bump in the road for the customer because the service they received wasn’t of high enough quality.

Being reactive is much more expensive than being proactive. Think about it. When customer hiccups do occur, dealerships will often not only fix the problem, but also throw in something “extra” as an apology. That extra could be a free oil change, or a gift card. Regardless of what it is, those extras cost money and detract from revenue.

Dealerships with a quality control process in place that helps ensure they don’t happen in the first place, and identifies these issues before the customer even becomes aware of any problem, find less occurrences of poor quality work.

What does a quality control process look like? It could be as simple as having the service advisor inspect the vehicle before giving it back to the customer. Perhaps a second technician could do a once-over inspection after the work is completed, just to get a fresh set of eyes on the vehicle. In sales have a sales manager review the deal with a customer prior to sending it to F&I. This can help ensure nothing was missed, that the customer understands all the terms, and that it includes everything the customer has voiced they want included in the deal.

These simple stop-gaps installed within regular dealership processes can prevent issues from arising. Whether service or sales, many tasks are routine and the simple process of performing the same tasks day in and day out can lead to fatigue or carelessness. No dealership wants to make mistakes. But they do happen – it’s just part of being human.

To keep the highest quality possible, all staff need to be on the same page and share an ambition for quality, which is of utmost importance in the quest for customer loyalty.

Sep
19

PrePaid Maintenance in the Age of Ride-Sharing

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on PrePaid Maintenance in the Age of Ride-Sharing

Younger generations prefer fixed monthly costs for expenses that include things such as vehicle maintenance. They can then budget and have less concerns about encountering a repair bill they can’t afford. But how do ride-sharing services fit into the PrePaid Maintenance equation?   

Ride-sharing – even as a secondary source of income – is skyrocketing, with many part-time Uber and Lyft drivers joining the ranks to add a little money to their bottom line. This brings opportunities aplenty to provide a valuable service, while also adding revenue dollars for your dealership.  

There are many standard pitches for PrePaid Maintenance such as fixed ownership costs, security and peace of mind. Well, it might be time to add another question when discussing PrePaid Maintenance with customers in F&I. Try asking:  

“Do you plan to use this vehicle to earn extra money as an Uber or Lyft driver?”  

Ride-share drivers put many more miles on their vehicles than regular drivers. I’ve met several Uber and Lyft drivers in my travels. Some tell me they only do it for extra income, while others do it full-time. Who knows what, if anything, they told the dealership when they purchased the vehicle?  

Either way, for those customers planning to make some income driving, PrePaid Maintenance becomes very appealing. Time off the road means money out of their pocket. So, subsidizing maintenance with their vehicle loan means operating without any worries about an expensive repair bill threatening their livelihoods. 

As PrePaid Maintenance covers just regular maintenance, if your dealership locks the customer into a PPM, you have the first chance to gain additional business that comes with normal wear and tear. This occurs much faster with these Uber and Lyft drivers. New tires, brake pads, etc.; the list goes on. For these drivers, PrePaid Maintenance should be a no-brainer for both the customer and the dealership. The customer doesn’t have time to go shop prices at 10 different competitors; they need to get the vehicle repaired and back on the road so that they can continue making money.  

Ride-sharing is exploding and these drivers must provide their own vehicles. Start including questions in your F&I process to establish if the customer is planning to, or may consider becoming an Uber or Lyft driver in the future. You may see some light bulbs going off and find them more receptive to your PrePaid Maintenance offer.

Feb
21

How to Capture More Revenue Without Much Effort

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on How to Capture More Revenue Without Much Effort

One of the advantages of Pre-Paid Maintenance Programs (PPM) is that they span the generational gaps. Regardless of which generation consumers happen to be in, none of them like surprise repairs, or other expenses. That’s why dealers focus on payments – and not price – when selling cars.

Consumers want fixed expenses. When it comes to millennials, they tend to be saddled with all sorts of debt including those credit cards they eagerly accepted while in college, and the student loans they end up with in order to launch their careers. Older generations are at, or close to, the point of fixed incomes from retirement plans or social security. Peace of mind that their vehicle is covered, and they are protected against any unexpected repairs, is perhaps more valuable to these consumers than ever before. That’s why many service industries have navigated to fixed price service plans.

Consider cell phones. The big rage nowadays is the “All-inclusive price” plan. Consumers simply choose a carrier and have all the service they need for a fixed amount. I’m sure you’ve seen the advertisements and commercials. Why are these plans so attractive? I would argue that it’s the fact that consumers don’t like surprises or variables in their monthly expenses.

PPM programs are attractive for exactly the same reason. They provide car buyers with peace of mind that their monthly vehicle expenses will remain the same and that their vehicle will be reliable.

However, while these items may be missed (or declined) in the finance office, there is a perfect opportunity that many dealerships miss to pursue them later in the service drive. Just because someone said “No” in your finance department, doesn’t mean that they will say the same thing later. Lots of factors are in play when buying a car – emotions are high, anxieties over payment could be in play, and exhaustion from being at the dealership for several hour could also be part of the problem. Once the sun comes up and all of those factors settle down, a consumer could perhaps have a clearer view of the advantages of a PPM.

Recent research suggests that almost 65 percent of dealers are ignoring the opportunity to offer dealer-branded PPM plans to current customers that visit their service lanes. While many offer OEM branded plans in the F&I department, the service lane is generally overlooked, not only as a selling opportunity, but as a chance to reengage hundreds of customers for a guaranteed period of time. Dealers are in fact losing two thirds of their possible customer service affinity as well as potential missed revenue measured in millions of dollars.

Really? Millions of dollars left on the service drive floor? Yes. It is so simple.

There is no argument that PPMs significantly raise dealer service retention. It is in fact documented that many dealers experience a retention rate of over eighty percent among those customers who purchase a PPM. So, why are so many dealers’ service retention numbers so much lower than that — anywhere from thirty, to, in rare cases, maybe sixty percent? That’s a huge loss in retention and potential profit.

In my thirty-five years in the automotive business dealers have shared many different rationalizations as to why they choose to overlook the potential of PPMs in service. While many of the reasons are beyond sensible business logic, such as “I can’t handle anymore service business,” or “My advisors are too busy to sell anything else,” they all escape the fact that, as a dealer, they likely see more customers in the service department in two months then they sell in new vehicles in an entire year! Yet only about 35 percent of franchise dealers offer service drive PPMs today.

It really is simple, but it takes a good eye on both new and used vehicle buyers in your service drive. Just like any other service lane up-sell, it should be positioned as an additional customer advantage on top of what the dealership is already doing, and should be included on all service product menus. By including it on your service menu it serves as a tool for your advisor to sell other services by utilizing any discount the plan may offer on the service the customer is contemplating purchasing during that visit.

Don’t be afraid to keep discussing the benefits of pre-paid maintenance with your customers – whether you sold them the vehicle or not – as it only serves to benefit both your dealership (by maintaining a customer relationship) and the customer.







MediaTrac In The News

Archives

  • collapse2018
  • expand2017
  • expand2016
  • expand2015
  • expand2014
  • expand2013
  • expand2012
  • expand2011