Deliver first-class customer service

The art of using technology to win over customers and how to “LIKE” handling customer complaints

By Jeff Sheets

We need to join the 21st century and use technology to help us serve our customers better!

Domino’s Pizza’s app for smartphones is one of my favorite examples of great customer service. Once I place my order through the app, I not only can track each step of the process from ordering, cooking, quality check and delivery, but also know which Domino’s team member is fulfilling each function. That is a 21st century answer to a customer service problem.

By implementing a great system of communication, Domino’s created greater efficiencies in its stores and happier customers at home because it provided an easy way to let the customer know what was going on without taking an employee away from his or her work. It’s a win-win situation.

I walk into most dealerships and find the telephone ringing off the wall. Many times, even though a customer is waiting at the counter, the phone call gets the priority. Most likely, customers are calling to find out the status of their repair. I think we’re missing great potential to offer excellent customer service by giving them the information they want before they ask for it by sending them e-mails or text messages.

The “art” in using e-mails or text messaging is making sure your customers understand why and how you will be using their information. Explain the process and collect their information up front. Make sure they know you will not be sharing their information. Ask them for permission to send them a quarterly newsletter to remind them of special seasonal sales, and then honor that promise.

If we created simple, succinct, standardized text or e-mail messages to notify customers where their equipment was in the repair process with just a quick glance at their phone, I think customers would love us. If we notified customers of diagnostics, repairs, quality checks, back-ordered parts and when equipment was ready for delivery with the total cost, we could reduce the number of phone calls and eliminate many customer service problems in a dealership because customers would feel they have been communicated with properly. They would feel their business was valued. And when they feel valued and happy, they will recommend us to their friends.

If you do receive a complaint that needs to be handled, look at it as an opportunity to see if your processes or procedures need to be updated. I use the L-I-K-E acronym to help remember how to handle these moments.

Listen: The customer deserves your full attention. Sometimes, stepping away into a quiet environment helps both parties. Studies have shown that sitting down also promotes a more relaxed attitude. When the conversation starts, try not to interject until the customer is finished voicing their complaint. Taking notes helps too, so that you can respond well to whatever points come up.

Investigate: Let them know the time frame that you will be investigating the problem, and tell them when you hope to give them a solution. Give yourself adequate time to make sure that you have really solved the issue for this customer. Don’t be afraid to tell the customer a later date, so that you can fully look into all the options.

Kindness: During the process, make sure that you treat the customer — and possibly any offending employee — well. This can be a time where you focus on the why something happened and not who did it. If it is an ongoing issue with an employee that needs to be handled with some disciplinary action, that is a secondary part to solving the problem.

Exceed: Make sure that you exceed not only your customer’s expectations but also your own during the process. You should make every effort to make this a learning experience for not just your employees but also for yourself in how to manage the dealership better and explore new ways to make your processes better.

In both of these situations, our goal is to make our service the best that our customers have ever experienced. We want to be a place where customers feel valued and compelled to return to year after year.

1504_OPE_FS_Profit Center Series-Part III-Service2_author-Jeff Sheets-webJeff Sheets is the founder and owner of OPE Consulting Services. For the past eight years, Sheets has worked extensively with hundreds of outdoor power equipment dealers to address all of their needs from marketing and inventory management to designing layouts of new facilities and helping rescue businesses that are in trouble, and more. He has a vast amount of experience of bringing “best practices” to OPE dealerships. For more information, he may be contacted at opeconsultingservices@gmail.com or (816) 260-5430.

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