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Jim Jackson

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Life as a Service Manager: The waiting customer

d557cecea220a3aaef67f82b4ec34759.jpg?t=1To anyone outside of the automotive industry the term “waiter” can mean many different things. To our customers using this automotive slang is very confusing and can be frustrating as well. As this business evolves it seems that our waiting lounges are becoming more and more crowded and not just at peak times, it stays full all day long. A majority of my career being with Nissan and my most recent store I came from had four separate waiting rooms and another area that our customers can get refreshments. This design was Nissans latest floor plan and had specific emphasis on helping the customers feel more comfortable while they are in for service and/or buying a car. We designed 2 separate waiting rooms that had couches and comfortable chairs, a kids playroom and then also an area where customers could sit down and work.

The point of this is to highlight the fact that customers are willing to wait at your store for their car to get serviced instead of leaving it with you. This brings up a couple of questions in my mind; are customers waiting at your store for their vehicle because they have all this extra time to kill or are they there to keep a watchful eye on their vehicle? I suspect they are there waiting because if they leave their vehicle they feel as if they loose control and their car could be there all day long.

On routine maintenance services such as oil changes and tire rotations we encouraged our customer to wait for their vehicle and stop in anytime. For this to be successful and create a positive service survey we really had to make sure our processes were tight and centered on getting the customer in and out in less than forty-five minutes. Here are a couple basic steps we created to help us deliver on our promise.

  • Teamwork – All support staff, all advisors, all express technicians and even the service manager at times had to be involved in order to make sure the customers car was progressing through the repair
  • Buy-in – Everyone had to have a vested interest in making certain that we delivered on our promise and created an exceptional service experience.
  • Choreography – Every step had to be efficient. The write-up to pulling into the express lane, the multi point inspection to explaining the results to the customer, the paper work to delivering the car back to the customer all had to have urgency and everyone needed to know their role.
  • Customer involvement – As the customer is sitting there make sure they are involved in the repair process. Make sure your update of their vehicle’s multi point inspection is completed within 15 minutes of write up. Show them the condition of the filters instead of telling them and ask them if they would like to see the condition of the tires and brakes. This step will help the time to pass quickly and build trust.

Commit to exceeding the demand from our customers. They want service and they want it now. Now how come we simply don’t deliver? Answer: It is tough and will not be easy but I encourage you to meet your customers expectations and get the express service mastered.

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