Automotive Service Management Newsletter
Vol 1, No 11, November 2007
Quit Losing Money Over Quality Issues
Part 5: Tracking and Analyzing Customer Handling Situations
and Quality Improvement Meetings
Tracking and Analyzing Customer Handling Situations
Tracking and analyzing customer handling situations is similar to tracking repeat repair incidents. However, we must do this after the fact using a follow-up system. The best type is phone follow-up done within 24-72 hours after the service visit because you are able to get current information that can be acted upon quickly if needed.
This follow-up should be conducted on all warranty and customer pay repairs. Many times dealerships only focus on warranty customers due to pressure from the manufacturers. The information we receive on warranty repair follow-up will help us know if the customer will return for customer pay service. However, customer pay is really the issue in being able to build customer loyalty and have a highly profitable service department.
To have the best cooperation from the customer for phone follow-up, the cashier should tell the customer about the phone follow-up and ask when is the best time to call and which phone number is preferred for the follow-up. If the customer would prefer not to be contacted, the cashier can give the customer be some type of mail-in form that matches the phone follow-up form that the customer can return within a few days after the service visit. The customer's follow-up preference is then documented on the service history copy of the repair order for the phone follow-up person.
The actual phone follow-up questions should not be complicated for the employee conducting the follow-up or for the customer being asked the questions. In our example Phone Follow-up Form, each question has a simple "yes" or "no" response with an area to elaborate on any "no" answer and an area for any comments or compliments. In choosing questions, many dealerships use the questions the manufacturers use on their CSI reports. This makes sense because the manufacturer is judging the dealership on these criteria.
The person doing the phone follow-up must be a great communicator over the phone. They must be able to pull details concerning problems and positive experiences. If there is a problem with the repair, then this person must be able to immediately contact the Service Advisor to schedule a return visit as soon as possible. If the phone follow-up person works after hours, then there must be some type of alert system so the Service Advisor or Service Manager knows to contact this person the next day.
At the end of each day, the phone follow-up person will pass the reports along to the manager and then the manager can review any particular problems with each staff member, discussing how to handle a particular situation better in the future or what is the status of a vehicle returning for repair. The manager should not limit his reviews with the staff to only problem situations, he should also make sure he shows the staff any compliments from the customers, too.
Quality Improvement Meetings
In some cases, it may be necessary to have service meetings to discuss issues that have to do with customer service processes. One of the biggest challenges of a manager is finding solutions to handle these challenges in the service department. Too many times the manager thinks he has to have all the answers, which can be over whelming and can cause job burn out in the long run. An important rule of thumb is to remember to involve the people who are using the processes to help improve them, the staff. They will know and see things that the manager, simply from his position, can't see and understand. The real benefit to involving the staff is buy-in, if they are using their ideas then they will work harder to make sure their ideas are good.
As reoccurring problems are tracked and identified from the Phone Follow-up Analysis or the Repeat Repair Log Analysis, a staff meeting should be called to look at these issues and come to an agreement about how to revise the processes. These types of staff meetings should be held at least twice a month. They can be called Customer Satisfaction Meetings or something similar to separate them from any regular staff meetings. Only one or two problems should be handled in each meeting.
A good format for the meetings is called the SOLVE model:
Once a solution is agreed upon in the meeting, the manager's next job is to track improvements and give feedback to the staff as to the progress of the new process. The better the tracking, the more frequent the feedback, the faster the improvements. The feedback can be given one-on-one, through weekly shop meetings, or both.
- S-pecify the problem as identified from the Phone Follow-up Form or the Repeat Repair Log Analysis. This would show poor staff performance in repairs or by the staff when handling customers.
- O-rganize the details of the initial problem, then look for any other underlying causes that could be affecting overall performance.
- L-ist as many solutions as possible. Don't be in a hurry in this area, as this is the heart of the meeting.
- V-erify the best solution that will result in a long-term solution.
- E-xecute your plan and track it, possibly making minor adjustments over the next few weeks. Don't be in a hurry to make major changes, give the plan a chance to work.
In this workshop we have looked at some basic issues that will help you identify and improve your quality challenges in vehicle repair and customer service.
Just the fact that you are tracking and reporting to the staff quality challenges heightens their awareness of what is important to the customer. Many times, just this activity alone will make people want to change on their own by noticing quality issues in repairs and customer service.
The most important issue is to understand that Quality is not a one time fix, it is a way of doing business.
Next Month: Managing Your Customer Point of Contacts
© Copyright, 2007, J. Daniel Emmanuel