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Automotive Service Management Newsletter
Vol 2, No 2, February 2008

Reviewing Service Delivery Fundamentals

Service delivery of the repaired vehicle is the last impression a customer has of the repair facility. A good service delivery accomplishes several goals in making the customer feel that all their needs were properly corrected, helps build customer loyalty and allows planning for the next service visit for the customer.

I know many service departments have procedures set up for service delivery. Yet one of our biggest challenges in any company is consistency. So I want to review several key things that must be done to consistently accomplish these goals with each customer. I also recommend that reviewing the basics occasionally with your staff or in a team meeting is just good business.

Verify Price Agreements

Once quality inspection is completed, the repair order should be given back to the service advisor to verify that the prices charged match the prices quoted to the customer.

It is not recommended that you price a little high and then come in low. Customers prefer being quoted an accurate price for a repair, then seeing that same price on the repair order when they pick up the vehicle.

The quoted price should be given as a total that includes all taxes and shop supplies. It will keep customers from getting upset with the cashier because of any unexpected charges and then having the service advisor get involved to help clarify the situation. Unfortunately, if this is not handled properly, the customer could lose trust because of the feeling of not being told the truth about the complete price of the repair up front.

Make Sure All Work is Completed as Promised

Next the service advisor must make sure all the work listed on the repair order was completed to the customer's expectations, especially the customer's primary repair concerns. Sometimes work was not completed due to an intermittent symptom or special ordered parts.

If there are intermittent symptom issues, be ready to discuss with the customer what is needed to better document the vehicle's symptoms, like noticing specific times that the symptoms are more prevalent, how long the vehicle has to be driven for the symptoms to occur, etc. Then establish a time for returning the vehicle with the extra symptom information to complete the repair. This is all focused on letting the customer know that the service facility wants to do everything possible to correct the condition.

When there are special ordered parts, offer a suggested appointment time in advance to have the special ordered part installed. In this day and age of computers, a good parts department can find the part and know its arrival date to make it easy to arrange an appointment in advance for the completion of the repair. The more pre-planning you can do in advance makes the customer feel they have found someone they can trust and depend on for their vehicle needs.

It is also a good idea to review the story that is on the repair order that describes what was done to the customer's vehicle. Does it make sense? Is it easy to understand if the repair order is discussed with the spouse at home? Does it have any abbreviations that could confuse the customer? These may seem like little things, but to the customer poor repair descriptions or descriptions filled with abbreviations is very intimidating. It is very comforting to the customer to have clear repair information properly listed on the repair order.

Initial Service Delivery over the Phone

The initial service delivery over the phone can almost be more important than the actual delivery in person because you will probably have more time than when the customer arrives for vehicle pickup. Two things must be discussed to set the customer's expectations - review of the repair details and price, and what is going to happen when they arrive to pick up their vehicle.

It is important to start with customer's primary vehicle concern, the main reason they brought their car in for service. If it was a repair, you need to explain what was done to correct the symptoms. Even if it is some type of warranty repair, don't just tell the customer it was covered under warranty, the customer will appreciate the detailed information of what was done. Also, if the vehicle break down was a result of not following the maintenance schedule, it is a good idea to help the customer see the importance of regular maintenance guidelines for their vehicle.

When explaining maintenance services, review the details of the service explaining why it is important to the safety, dependability and performance of the vehicle to keep up those services. If the vehicle came with a maintenance logbook, let them know you recorded the completed service in their logbook.

Verify any price quotes to let them know that the quote matched the final price. You may even want to review forms of payment used by the service department.

Once you have reviewed the work done, describe how the quality inspection was completed by a test drive or simple walk around inspection to make sure everything was done properly.

Next, review any work that was not completed and why. As I described earlier, if it is due to an intermittent symptom, discuss with the customer how you would like to work with them to get more details about the conditions under which the symptom occurred so that the technician can verify the symptom and complete the repair on another visit.

For special ordered parts, offer one or two appointment dates set around the time the part will arrive. Set the appointment and let them know you will contact them to verify that the part is in stock and confirm the appointment date.

Another consideration is how to deliver the vehicle if the customer cannot arrive during regular business hours. Your service department should have different options they can use to assist the customer after hours. The main concern is to inform the customer of where to go and who to meet. If there is a payment involved, that can usually be handled over the phone with a credit card or a check can be left with the person handling afterhours transactions.

A good service advisor will also review any upcoming service items that the customer needs to plan to handle in the future. Assure them that you will contact them as a reminder to assist in setting up a convenient appointment for them to leave their car. Be sure to include any prices that will help them plan for that next service visit.

If your customer did not buy any needed service work on this visit, let her know you will call and remind her of that service need. A good tool to remind you to call your customers is the Service Reminder Follow-up Sheet that I created to assist service advisors in tracking declined services. This is an easy to use tool that will boost customer satisfaction by building loyalty and will improve sales for you and your service department.

Your customer also needs to know what to do when they arrive. Do they proceed directly to the cashier station or find you at your service desk? Will you be personally delivering the vehicle or is there someone else that will assist them? Ideally, you will want to be the first person they meet on arrival and the one who delivers her serviced vehicle back to her, especially if she should have any last questions or concerns.

Finally, record the name of the person you talked to and the time the call was completed on the repair order. Then if there is any question about whether a contact was made it is verified on the repair order. This is also helpful in case another person, like the spouse, picks it up. Then you can also ask that person if he would like to review the repair order.

I know this seems like a lot of information to present in this phone call, but if you are properly prepared, this call should take less than three or four minutes.

Customer Arrives for Delivery of Their Repaired Vehicle

I am going to review the best delivery procedure to enhance customer satisfaction. At the same time, I realize that every service department is organized a little differently. Some may have the cashier's station right next to the service and parts area, while others may do cashiering in a different part of the building. Many service departments are now having the service advisor cash out their own tickets, assuring final contact with the customer. As you look at this example, think about how you can adapt it to your service operations situation.

In preparation for customer arrival, you should have the completed paperwork ready at your desk. When the customer arrives, greet her by name with good eye contact and a smile. Ask her if she wants to review anything that was discussed on the phone about the repair and price. Remind her of any needed repairs that were declined and ask if there is any other information that would clarify why that vehicle service was recommended. Answer any last questions, review any upcoming service needs while offering to make an appointment in advance, then let her know that she will be contacted for a customer satisfaction follow-up by telephone and you would appreciate any information about the service experience.

Once the customer seems satisfied with everything, escort her over to the cashier's station, let her know you will be having her vehicle brought around and to return to you with the completed paperwork.

When the customer returns with the completed paperwork, escort her to her vehicle ending the transaction with a smile and handshake, thanking her for using you and your service department to take care of her vehicle.

Remember, we want to make the best last impression we can. If this is done properly and sincerely, your customer will leave feeling like she has found the right place to service her vehicle and will return again.

Copyright, 2008, J. Daniel Emmanuel

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