Time is NOT on your side

Jim NewsletterA very recent experience, not in the automotive field, vividly brought to light the importance of communications. My wife was scheduled for what we thought would be a routine exploratory procedure in our local hospital. She was scheduled for 10AM and we arrived 2 hours early as requested. They took her in right away and prepped her for the procedure. 10 o’clock came and passed, then 11, then 12, and then 1PM with no information or update. Finally I cornered one of the nurses to enquire when she would be going in, and the answer was “I don’t know, let me find a doctor.”

Another hour passed and I found the same nurse again and asked the same question, with almost the identical response. Finally, her doctor showed up to announce that they were ready for her. When I asked where they had been for the last 4 hours he was insulted, saying that they had important things going on and he was too busy to keep us updated.

We were furious and insulted at the same time; obviously our time and my wife, were not important to them. They were only concerned with their business, not us. Sound familiar?

Most negative CSI surveys can usually be grounded in poor communication somewhere along the line. Whether it is directly with the customer, or internally impacting the ultimate outcome, the result is the same; the customer feels disconnected from the store and the people they are working with resulting in a weak score. Let’s look at some of the most commonly occurring scenarios.

Internal Communications

These classic mix-ups happen between Parts and Service.

  • Advisors write weak RO’s resulting in delayed or flawed diagnosis by technicians.
  • Technicians go to parts with incomplete information and end up ordering wrong parts.
  • Parts gives Service bad information on special orders resulting in customers coming in for parts that are no longer on hand.

Let me give you a recent example I just encountered this week. A recall was announced and the Parts Manager immediately ordered a supply of parts so he would be ready for the demand. Surprise! The demand didn’t happen right away, so he allowed the stock to sell down; meanwhile vendor supply dwindled to the point where it went on controlled inventory. No one told Service and they kept bringing vehicles in until there were no more parts to be had, so now every repair involved a special order going to backorders. Guess who looks stupid? Guess who will get a lot of bad surveys when the work is finally done weeks later?

External Communications

I’ll bet we’ve all seen this one; customer shows up at 5PM to pick up their vehicle and it’s not done yet. Worse than that, it hasn’t even gotten into the shop yet! ‘You Know Who’ was too busy to call the customer and went home early, leaving someone else to be berated and embarrassed; all of which could have been averted by a timely phone call. The most common communication errors I see are,

  • Not listening to the customer during the write-up – This is probably the #1 cause of CSI issues. The drive is busy and everyone is in a hurry to ‘move the metal’ and they miss the vital information that helps make the visit successful.
  • Not contacting the customer after the prime item is diagnosed – “I’ll wait for the MPI before calling so I only have to make one call.” Now our customer sees more effort expended in selling them something they did NOT come in for as opposed to solving their problem first. Guess who they don’t trust now?
  • Not collecting a good contact number for the day, or an e-mail address – What good is the follow-up call if it goes to voice-mail? The vehicle is apart, the stall is tied up, and the customer cannot be found.
  • Not making Progress Reports – Some factory surveys ask this very question. I had a VW client gigged recently by a customer who was in for an Express Service oil change. It was done in 20 minutes, but the customer answered the question ‘No’ since everyone assumed that it required no progress report.
  • Not calling the customer with final invoice information, resulting in a confrontation during the delivery – The Active Delivery is the last interaction a customer remembers, and if it is a pleasant experience that influences how they answer the survey, how they talk about the store, and whether they decide to continue doing business. I think we all know what an unpleasant experience results in.

This is a people business. People buy vehicles from people, even with the internet presence. Service is available from multiple sources, and the customer has options as to where they take their business. The hours are in the vehicle, but if you don’t retain that customer and their vehicle you won’t get anything. People decide where they will spend their money based on how they are treated, and communication is the venue that influences that decision. Don’t waste their time, and yours. Invest it wisely.

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