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Keeping customers up to date on vehicle maintenance can be an easy or difficult task--depending on the customer. Some customers will make appointments with your shop like clockwork to service their vehicles. Others will wait until the bumper is falling off the back of their old pickup to pull up to your shop. When it comes to the latter: how do you come off as concerned but NOT pushy?
Good customer service and attaining returning, reliable customers starts with three well-known words: good customer experience. Let your customers know you care whether it’s online or in the shop. How to achieve this? Be personable, be respectful, be understanding, and most important, be thorough with your work and follow-ups.
Let’s start from square one: their name. If a customer has been in your shop before and you have met them in person, you should try to remember their name. If a specific customer has been faithful to your business for the last three years, you should 100% know their name, as well as their vehicle, and the work you have done in the past.
Picture this...a customer walks into your shop and you greet them with A. “Hi, what can I help you with?” or B. “Hi Rhonda! How have you been? How is the Honda Pilot holding up?” A. is a kind statement that will not go unnoticed but B. makes Rhonda feel like an important customer to your business and good about herself. You acknowledged her personally and she feels like you care about her Pilot, and most important, her. That is a good customer experience beginning right at the doorway.
The second piece of advice goes back to grade school but it gets overlooked from time to time. What is it? Say “please”, “thank you”, and “you’re welcome”. Always, always, always acknowledge what a customer says attentively and respond in the politest manner (yes, even to the ‘hard to handle’ customers). This goes for online and on social media, too!
Did you get a nasty comment on your Facebook from a dissatisfied customer? Apologize and offer a solution to their problem (Ex: “Please stop by the shop sometime this week and we will be sure to resolve this problem in a timely manner. Your experience at our business is important to us. Thank you.”)
This also works with those pesky customers who avoid vehicle maintenance until the last moment. Showing care works wonders. Let them know you aren’t just interested in payment, you’re worried for their safety.
Let’s say you have a customer named John who has not purchased new tires for his vehicle in quite some time. The ones he has on his car now were able to pass inspection (barely) so he once again avoided buying new ones.
What do you do? Well, you can e-mail John, give him a call, or even take the time to write him a letter personalized from your business. What do you say? Craft your message to let John know that you’re concerned with the current state of his tires. Perhaps include information on current deals or in-shop promotions...
...“John, Thank you for being a reliable customer to our business. The last time you were in we noticed your tires were looking pretty bald and have lost a lot of traction; they will most likely not pass inspection next time around. We are currently running a special where Cooper* (or any other brand) tires are 15% off until MM/DD. Please feel free to stop by, give us a call, or log-on to our website to check out our tire catalog. Your safety and satisfaction are first on our list. Thank you for your business!”
There are other means to let your customers know they are appreciated. Send out thank you cards with coupons or special deals attached. Create a customer appreciation event (in the shop or through social media).
You can also keep track of how long it has been since a certain customer has visited your shop. After six months, send them an e-mail, Facebook message, give them a call, send them a postcard, etc. Ask how their vehicle is and request that they schedule with you online if they need maintenance before the next season.
What about post maintenance? Follow-up! Give them a call about a week after you (or one of your employees) worked on their vehicle. Ask how it is running, If they have any concerns, and once again, thank them for their business.
It's so easy to overlook these simple customer service aspects in the mix of a busy work week. According to Salesforce Desk, 60% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience. With statistics like this, you cannot afford anything less than providing a great customer experience.
Follow this process to make your customer base feel good about themselves for choosing your business. In return, it will make them feel good about your business and the services/products it offers. They will feel appreciated, they will leave positive reviews, and they WILL return.
“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they see how much you care.” -Damon Richards