Good customer service is key to the smooth running of any business or company. As a customer you’re more likely to feel satisfied and be more willing to return if the service you received was not only friendly but also efficient and effective. It’s easy for good customer service to fall by the way side when pressure is on the business to make money and survive, but your ongoing profitability depends on it. Don’t let good customer service slip, you need to keep it consistent to keep customers coming back and keep the business strong.
Here are some of the tell-tale signs of poor customer service and how to avoid them:
1. A slow welcome.
Possibly the easiest element of customer service to get right is to make sure your staff are welcoming. A slow response to visitors always gets things off to a bad start, not least because your customers’ time is probably just as pressured as yours. Vehicles are often brought in for service around the same time that customers are dropping the kids off at school or going to work when time is tight. For the customer, the prospect of not having access to their car for the day is not only stressful but can be a logistical nightmare – that’s before they’ve even thought about cost.
2. A poor welcome.
An unfriendly welcome also gets things off to a bad start. A welcoming handshake and a smile can relieve any tension and put the customer at ease. This will not only make the customer easier and faster to deal with but also instils trust in your service and your company. This is especially important for customers who are relatively new to driving or who have little mechanical knowledge – for them, visiting a garage can be a daunting experience. It’s important to put customers at ease and prove you care about their problem, even if it is only small or insignificant. It is important to do this without being patronising.
3. An untidy workshop.
A dingy, dirty reception area with used coffee cups and staff scrolling though twitter is never going to inspire confidence. Although you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover we are all guilty of making our first impressions based on appearance, so keeping your garage and staff neat and tidy is simple yet crucial to how people regard you and your work. Although you’re limited in some respects concerning the physical structure of the building you’re working in, there are almost always improvements that can be made. Sometimes something as little as a lick of paint, some comfy chairs and a stack of decent magazines is enough to encourage a customer that this is a credible establishment.
4. Customers kept waiting.
If customers are calling in and being told their cars aren’t ready this is a sign that either you are overpromising return times, or that you are working inefficiently. Either way, it’s a bad sign. Speed is a key part of any service, not only because it means the customer has to waste less time hanging around waiting but also because it means you can fit more customers into a day’s work, which will maximise your profit. Don’t work so fast that you have to cut corners or so fast that you increase the risk of mistakes. It’s important you find the correct balance for you and your company as this can be a huge factor in the customers impression. Ensure your staff are knowledgeable and thorough in order to provide a fast, high quality service.
5. Poor communication.
Communication is key in pretty much every aspect of life, but none more so than in the running of a business. This can be communication between staff and management, or between staff and customer. When a customer leaves their car with you, you are responsible for its care. Cars tend to not only be expensive but also important to a customer, so it is important you let the customer know how the work on their car is coming along. This is especially important when carrying out expensive repairs that may take a long period of time to complete. Keeping a customer aware of what is being done, how much it will cost and how much time it will take gives them some peace of mind.
6. Inflexible appointment times.
The 21st century world is busy, and everybody is always in a constant rush. This can make getting your car serviced or fixed a real inconvenience. Being flexible and accommodating to people gives a good impression and shows that you’re there to help. This can be really helpful for people who work full time and can’t pick up their car until after work, or who need their car back at a certain time. This flexibility is attractive to customers and can help improve your reputation.
7. Lack of initiative.
An important aspect of good customer service is being thorough. With so many complex parts and different systems all working simultaneously in one car it’s likely that there may be more than one thing wrong at one time. It can be frustrating for customers to subsequently find that you have fixed one thing but missed another fault that you could have noticed. Being thorough and running extra checks or tests can be immensely helpful to a customer and may save them a second trip back to you in a few weeks’ time. This may also enable you to nip any developing issues in the bud, preventing further hassle to the customer.
Despite the preconception good customer service really isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Even just implementing one or two of these ideas could really make a difference to the service you provide and to your customer’s experience. This in turn can really help to enhance your business and its reputation as well as boost your profits.