Thursday, May 17, 2012

Make It Easy For Customers To Contact You

Sure you want more service customers, but are you making it easy for them to contact you? While calling our Clients one morning to review their Profit Blueprints reports, I found out it isn't always easy to get to the service department. I'm not talking about the insufferable wait that happens between the phone being answered and actually talking to someone, or even the "parts-hold" routine. I'm talking about being connected to the service department in the morning. I was calling a service department that opens at 7:30 a.m. Here I was at 8:30 a.m. getting the dealership answering machine that said, "Our hours are 9:00 a.m. till 8 p.m., please call back during business hours or leave a message in the General Voicemail Box." YIKES!
There was not even a chance to get to the service department, Parts department or the Body Shop which all had been open for at least an hour. Guess what? It wasn't the only dealership. Now imagine you're a customer wanting to bring your car in for an emergency-you just call someone else-someone who answers the phone. Take a few minutes tomorrow morning and call your dealership and see how your call is handled.
What about your website? While most dealerships do a stellar job for the Vehicle Sales department, the results are not so good for service. If your customers can request an appointment via the Internet, where does that request end up? You'd be amazed at how many website requests end up in never-never land. Your website is a great opportunity to save time and money, while improving customer Retention-if you don't annoy the customer. I went to a dealership's website and requested a service appointment. After pressing "send" it came back saying, "If you don't hear from us within 24 hours, please call the service department." When I contacted the service Manager he said, "I didn't even know you could request an appointment on our website." Obviously, you can't.
Another request was directed to the BDC where the email response was, "If you want a service appointment, please call XXX-XXXX." Of course when I called, it took over four minutes for someone in service to answer the phone-the reason I tried to make an appointment on-line in the first place.
When a customer requests an appointment on-line, this is your opportunity to start selling. A prompt and courteous email response can also suggest other services: "While your vehicle is in for service would you like us to detail it for you for only $79.95?" Or tell the customer about your truckload of tires sale!
Even if the customer doesn't enter the mileage on the screen, you can look at the history (if he or she is a previous customer) and see if they are due for any services or declined any previously recommended repairs. Soft sell those items in your response.
Everyone needs more customers today, but are you answering the phone like you want more customers? Does your website make it easy for your customers to do business with you and promote your services? If you can't say yes to those questions, let's fix it before we complain we need more customers.

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