Whatever the size of your workshop business, customer service is a powerful driver of profitability, not least because the cost of losing business through poor customer service is far higher than the cost of treating clients well.
According to ThinkJar it is 6 or 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one
So, what is good customer service?
Most would agree that it’s about value for money. When you offer a product or a service for a certain price, the customer has expectations. At the very least, these will include a reasonable expectation that you will offer a basic level of support — answering questions clearly and simply, resolving issues promptly, handling complaints and properly managing expectations.
All good and reasonable, but what does this have to do with profitability?
Providing good customer service means repeat business for your garage – happy customers come back again and again. With people owning their cars for longer periods of time the automotive aftermarket is growing – this should mean increased customer lifetime profit for your workshop. Happy customers will also mean referral, bringing further profit to your workshop.
In short, good customer service generates more business for you because actions speak louder than words.
Good customer service also means a stronger brand. For every business, from a single-family operation with one outlet, to the largest international business, your brand is your most valuable asset. It’s your public image, your calling card, and your customer service is in integral part of this. A trusted brand is like a constantly positive message beaming out to the world. A damaged brand reduces profitability, a respected brand just grows and grows, adding profit all along the way.
It’s all the more important in the new world of social media where complaints and compliments alike are instantly and sometimes permanently visible. In this landscape, your brand is no longer what your ads say; your brand is what your customers say it is. And when they say what it is online, everyone knows about it.
Good customer service means listening to your customers. If you listen to your customers, you will find out what they really want and need. Your customers will tell you exactly what your next business move should be. They will tell you what they like about what you do, what they don't like, and what they want more of.
You can use this information to refine your proposition. Each tweak you make will give you that edge over your competition. Try asking some of your trusted regulars a few questions next time you’re with them. At the very least, you’ll make them feel valued. At best, you may hit on a new idea and a new business opportunity.
What kind of customer service boosts profit?
In a way, it’s easy. It’s just about being considerate and thoughtful, taking time to make sure the customer is happy. Be open with your customers, hear what they say, listen and acknowledge. Much frustration with customer service is caused by customers feeling it's a ‘them and us’ situation, where the seller doesn't really care about their problem or issue. Even simple things like using their names, thanking them for their business and asking what else you can do to help them, make customers feel like you are giving them an all-round, considerate service, not just selling to them. Happy customers will come back for more.
Good customer service is also about efficiency. For example, if the customer has a problem or issue, listening only makes a difference if you subsequently take action that resolves the issue. Whether you are providing a refund, correcting an error, offering a free product or service – make the customer aware of his or her options and act on them as soon as possible. Once you’ve addressed the issue, make sure you follow-up a few days later by calling to check that everything was resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
It’s not always possible to give customers everything they demand, but by being flexible and maintaining a helpful attitude you will increase your client loyalty and retention, that’s why these things will bring you profitability in the long term.
It hasn’t always been quite this way. Before the internet, sales were much more of a numbers game. Customer service has always been as important but achieving more profit was often about selling as many products and services as possible.
Today, customers choose the businesses that they can establish a deeper relationship with and that doesn't look set to change as this state of mind is especially true of younger Millennial customers.
To conclude, providing excellent customer service will give you every opportunity to grow your profits. Here are three practical tips that you can put into practice.
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