When a new customer enters a repair facility, they will judge the service consultant by the three A’s. These are very important rules to remember and a new customer will most likely build there opinion and confidence in you by these three A’s in the order as they are listed.
The Service Consultant’s Objective
The service consultant provides one of the most important links between the customer, the technician and the vehicle repair by managing the repair process. A skilled consultant collects the customer’s concerns and requested services, relays them to the technical staff, provides explanation of the technician’s findings to the customer and provides information concerning the repair in a way that makes the customer as comfortable as possible with the facility. Even if nearly everything is performed perfectly, one critical item like failing to communicate completion time or accurate costs can undermine all of your other efforts. The service consultant also helps the customer identify maintenance procedures and repairs needed to keep the car in good running order. To have satisfied customers willing to have their vehicles repaired and maintained at the same facility, it is important that the repairs be done properly and in a timely fashion. To accomplish this, there must be good communication between the business and the customer. Without this, there is little chance of the process being successful.
A service consultant can be very knowledgeable, but if the image he or she presents does not generate confidence in the customers, feelings of mistrust can occur that make the repair process more difficult. Therefore, it is important that the service consultant dress professionally, and adhere to the appearance code that their business has chosen. They should be clean, neat and be able to present themselves as capable and able to do a good job. A clean, well-organized workstation provides an important part of the image. A professional image helps generate customers confidence that repairs will be done right. It also makes it easier to sell additional repairs or maintenance when customers have confidence in the ability of the service consultant. To present a professional image:
- Dress professionally (appearance)
- Be clean and neat
- Present yourself as capable of doing a good job (attitude)
- Keep a clean, well-organized workstation
One thing that brings customers back again and again is feeling comfortable with the person they have contact with. A friendly demeanor will help to ensure the right impression. When a customer enters the shop and sees a professionally dressed service consultant working at a clean, well organized workstation, it is then important that they be greeted in a welcoming and professional manner. Generally speaking, this means the service consultant identifies him or herself, shakes hands with the customer and asks for their name. The service consultant should maintain good eye contact with the customer while carefully listening to their concerns. Having a polite, calm and unhurried manner will also help to build customer confidence in the service consultant as he or she helps the customer through the process of properly filling our the necessary paperwork and identifying all of the repairs and maintenance needed. Accomplished greeting skills which are perceived as attitude include:
- Be welcoming and professional in manner
- Identify yourself
- Shake hands with the customer
- Use good eye contact
- Listen carefully to the customer
- Use a polite, calm and unhurried manner
Along with face-to-face skills for working with customers, proper telephone skills are an important link to existing and new customers. Each business will have its own designated process for working on the phone, but the general process is the same. It is important to be pleasant and to sound unhurried. When the telephone is answered, the company should be identified, along with the name of the service consultant and ‘May I help you’. Follow-up calls, to answer questions, give updates on repair costs, and to let the customer know when their repairs are completed, are important to the repair process and will help generate customer satisfaction. It is important to follow up as promised, on time, if a time was agreed upon or in a timely fashion. If you are waiting on a walk-in customer and the phone rings, ask the person on the phone if they will hold while you finish, or ask if you can take a number and call back. Try to wait on customers, both phone and walk-ins, in the order in which they come in. If you must drop one customer to wait on another, ask someone else to continue with the first for you. While no customer is any more important than another, there can be situations that demand immediate attention, so be sure not to leave anyone hanging or you will have two angry customers. Your business may have a policy on handling multiple customers and that of course, should be followed.
The final A, ability, is really the most important. Even if you project a first class professional image and a positive attitude, if you don’t know what you’re doing, the customer will figure it out and go elsewhere. You should always ask for help if needed, and never try to bluff your way through a situation. Bad guesses and shots in the dark can come back to haunt you later and cost both money and extra work.