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Soft Skills: The Number 1 Thing You Can’t Measure

Technical expertise is often considered the most crucial aspect of a successful operation. However, the significance of soft skills, particularly in phone interactions with customers, cannot be overstated. These skills, which include effective communication, active listening, empathy, and problem-solving, play a vital role in creating a positive customer experience and building long-term relationships.

When a customer calls a dealership’s service department, they are often seeking guidance, reassurance, and a sense that their concerns are being heard and addressed. The person answering the phone serves as the first point of contact and has the power to shape the customer’s perception of the entire dealership. If the representative lacks the necessary soft skills, the interaction can quickly turn negative, leaving the customer frustrated and less likely to return for future service needs.

Soft Skills

One of the most essential soft skills for automotive service personnel is active listening. This involves giving the customer undivided attention, asking relevant questions, and demonstrating a genuine interest in their needs. By engaging in active listening, the representative can gather the information necessary to provide accurate and helpful responses, while also building rapport and establishing trust.

Effective communication is another critical soft skill. This includes the ability to explain complex technical information in a way that is easy for the customer to understand, as well as using positive language and a friendly tone to create a welcoming atmosphere. When a representative can communicate clearly and confidently, the customer feels more at ease and is more likely to trust the dealership with their vehicle’s service needs.

Empathy is also a key component of successful phone interactions. By putting themselves in the customer’s shoes and understanding their concerns and frustrations, service personnel can respond with compassion and understanding. This helps to build a strong emotional connection and can go a long way in diffusing difficult situations and creating a positive outcome.

Problem-solving skills are equally important, as customers often call with issues that require creative solutions. Representatives who can think on their feet, offer alternative options, and work collaboratively with the customer to find the best resolution are invaluable assets to any service department.

Soft skills also have a significant impact on Net Promoter Scores (NPS), a widely used metric for gauging customer loyalty and satisfaction. NPS is based on a single question: “How likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” Customers who have positive phone interactions with service personnel are more likely to become promoters, giving high scores and recommending the dealership to others. Conversely, those who experience poor communication, lack of empathy, or unhelpful attitudes are more likely to become detractors, giving low scores and spreading negative word-of-mouth. By prioritizing soft skills training, dealerships can improve their NPS, leading to increased customer retention and revenue growth.

Despite the clear benefits of soft skills, many dealerships fail to prioritize training in this area. This oversight can have significant consequences, including lost revenue, high employee turnover, and damage to the dealership’s reputation. When service personnel are not equipped with the tools and knowledge needed to handle customer interactions effectively, they may become overwhelmed, disengaged, and more likely to seek employment elsewhere.

To mitigate these risks and ensure a positive customer experience, dealerships must prioritize soft skills training for their entire fixed operations staff. This includes not only BDC representatives and service advisors but also valets, porters, and technicians who may interact with customers directly or indirectly.

Effective soft skills training should cover a range of topics, including:

  1. Active listening and effective communication
  2. Empathy and emotional intelligence
  3. Problem-solving and conflict resolution
  4. Positive language and tone
  5. Professionalism and courtesy

In addition to training, establishing clear processes and guidelines for phone interactions can help ensure consistency and quality across all customer touchpoints. These processes should be well-documented and easily accessible to all staff members, providing a roadmap for handling various scenarios and situations.

The cost of neglecting soft skills training can be substantial, both in terms of lost revenue and missed opportunities. Customers who feel valued and heard are more likely to return for future service needs and recommend the dealership to others. On the other hand, those who experience poor phone interactions may take their business elsewhere and share their negative experiences with others, damaging the dealership’s reputation and bottom line.

The importance of soft skills for automotive service personnel in phone interactions with customers cannot be overstated. By investing in comprehensive training, establishing clear processes, and fostering a culture of excellence, dealerships can create a positive customer experience that leads to increased loyalty, revenue, and long-term success. While technical expertise is undoubtedly important, it is the human connection and emotional intelligence that truly set a dealership apart in a competitive market.

Elevate your Fixed Operations department with our custom-tailored solutions. Our team offers in-depth assessments and specialized training programs, crafting strategies designed specifically to boost efficiency, maximize customer retention, and ensure long-term profitability. We’ll work closely with you to identify areas for improvement and implement targeted solutions that drive sustainable growth for your business.

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