When Was the Last Time You Called Yourself?

mike-knapp-newsletterIn today’s world, communication is now a matter of convenience. If a dealer or GM wanted to reach somebody in his or her service department, he would simply page them, contact them by email, dial an extension or call their cell phone. However, when was the last time you called your store? Try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and call your service department. Call and make an appointment, or at least try to anyway. You may either be pleasantly surprised or extremely disappointed in the results. This is what your customers do every day.

Try this experiment: Call your store and ask to schedule an appointment for, let’s say a 30,000 mile service. Obviously try to use an unrecognizable number or block caller ID or have a friend call and put it on speaker. How many times did the phone ring? How was it answered? Did the operator or receptionist “smile” on the phone? How many times were you transferred? How long were you put on hold? Now ask if you can wait, how long would it take? 1 hour? More than 2?  How much is it and what does it include? Were you encouraged to make the appointment? Better yet, were you encouraged to do business with the dealer? How long before they can accommodate you with an appointment? Same day? 1 day? Two days? How did you feel after the call? If you were a customer, WOULD YOU BRING YOUR CAR IN FOR SERVICE BASED ON THAT PHONE CALL? Now try it again. This time ask to speak to a service advisor and tell them you have a check engine light on? Now, how long before you can bring it in?

Your customers go through this every day. As part of my normal routine in my store visits, I make several mystery shopper phone calls at different times of the day and on different days just to see if there is any consistency or opportunity for improvement. Although some stores do very well and it is obvious their people have the proper training and are successful, the majority of the stores I visit do not fare as well. In fact, I often have to make calls from the dealer’s office because he or she cannot believe the poor quality of the call when I share the results.

I recently made such a call from a store and the conversation went something like this:

Receptionist: “Dealer Name” —– (That’s it) not how may I help you? Name? Nothing!

 Me: “I would like to bring my vehicle in for service”

 Receptionist: “Hold”

 12 rings later – “Service”

 Me: “I would like to bring my vehicle in for service”

 Service Receptionist: “Have you been here before?”

 Me: “No, I am new to the area and never been there before.”

 Service Receptionist: “Do you have the vin?”

 Me: “No, I am sorry, right now I am driving”

 Service Receptionist: “What’s your phone number?” – HOLD ON PLEASE

 6 minutes later

 Service Receptionist: “Service” (again)

 Me:  “I am still trying to make an appointment for service”

 Service Receptionist: “Oh sorry – What’s your phone number?”

 Me (Now getting frustrated and I do this for a living):  “Can I please just make an appointment? I will give you my info when I get there”

 Service Receptionist: “NO, I have to put you in the system before I can make an appointment”

Me:  (Fake name and number)

Service Receptionist: “When do you want to come in?”

Me:  “What’s available?”

Service Receptionist: “Whenever you want – sorry hold on”

Service Receptionist: “Sorry about that – when did you want to come in?”

Me:  “How long will it take?”

Service Receptionist: “You will have to ask the advisor when you get here…”

– you know the rest

Results: 13 minutes, no appointment, transferred twice, put on hold three times and I was never encouraged to not only make the appointment, but to even do business with them.

Let me ask you, based on this conversation, would you do business with this store?

This is what your customers are experiencing. The success of every business starts with the basics.

Do yourself and your customers a favor. Call yourself once in a while.  You will be happy you did.

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