Dealerships can populate their service drives with the most talented, motivated and attentive service advisors in the industry and yet, there will always be a few customers who never seem to be satisfied. Typically, the source of the customer’s dissatisfaction can be traced back to a miscommunication of some kind.
From the moment a customer initiates an appointment all communications are driven by common goals: to identify the source of the concern, address the issue and offer a resolution. Even the slightest breakdown in communication can produce disastrous results.
The current climate in our industry places tremendous value on CSI and customer retention. By improving communication, we can drive both of those numbers while minimizing productivity issues.
On average, women make up 66% of customers bringing their vehicles in for service. In order to learn to communicate better with that demographic, we must acknowledge that men and women communicate in very different ways. We also need to recognize that communication involves much more than the words people say. There are also non-verbal communication cues and verbal patterns. Many of these cues are easy to recognize once we know what they are.
The non-verbal cues tend to be more informative about the customer’s demeanor than the words they actually speak and can be excellent indicators on the customer’s state of mind. Non-verbal indicators is usually called body language and include behaviors such as lack of eye contact, crossed arms, rigid posture, taking a step away from the advisor, rolling the eyes, throat clearing and fidgeting. These behaviors all indicate anxiety and avoidance, and are natural defense mechanisms that are, for the most part, performed on a subconscious level.
Other than the words people use, verbal indicators are tone of voice, volume of voice and speech patterns (such as clipped answers, mumbling and pronounced sighs, etc). These indicators, along with the non-verbal indicators, are reliable tools we can use when determining the customer’s state of mind and allow us to tailor our behavior to put the customer at ease and close the communication gap.
Women tend to communicate based more on emotion, which is usually expressed non-verbally, than men. The male brain produces 52% more serotonin (the “calming” chemical) than the female brain. This is why women are more apt to cry in a moment when a man will just shrug his shoulders and walk away. As a result, there is a greater possibility for miscommunication with women than with men. It is important to be able to process verbal and non-verbal cues in order to minimize misunderstandings. In a study of men and women executives, it was proven that women nod their heads to relay an understanding of the speaker’s topic, whereas men nod their heads when agreeing on a proposed idea. So you see, if you are providing a woman with an idea and she nods her head, you may be lead to believe she is agreeing with you when, in fact, she is just relaying that she understands what you’re saying, in a non-verbal acknowledgement. Conversely, if she does not see your head nod when she is speaking, she may assume that you were not listening. (Is any of this sounding familiar?)
Being aware of these differences in communication styles will help you communicate more thoroughly when assisting your clients and reduce miscommunications that can undermine the best intentions. No one will ever be able to fully explain the mystery that is the fairer gender but at least we can try to improve our skills to accommodate the differences. The ability to adapt quickly to a situation and form of communication at hand is a skill that will serve us in all environments where interaction is necessary.