Got Happy Customers?

Got Happy Customers?

Fixed Ops Magazine

Wouldn’t life be grand if you had perfect processes in place within every sector of your dealership, if all your employers were loyal, motivated, hardworking, and efficient—and if they carried out your flawless processes with precision, accuracy, and confidence? You could count on having very happy customers! They might be so pleased that they become “customers for life,” spreading their satisfaction and your flawless reputation all over town. Your vehicle sales would go up and your service department would thrive. As a bonus, your customers would be motivated to actually complete that nightmare of a survey from the manufacturer. And of course they would select top box scores on every question. Not a bad way to kick that CSI up to Number 1 in your zone!

You may think this scenario sounds like a dream, but it could come true for you if you make use of a first-class customer follow-up system. Sales and service customer follow-up results will provide the information you need to implement the proper processes and fine-tune employee performance. You can use the information to set standards and establish a measuring stick to maintain them. Without a follow-up program in place, you will be unaware of most customer complaints. If you don’t know about them, you will have no chance to resolve them, and you may find it is impossible to retain customers who had a poor experience at your dealership.

The vast majority of upset customers won’t complain to you. Most of them will simply avoid a confrontation, go away mad, and take their business with them. According to Technical Assistance Research Programs of Washington, D.C., for every customer who complains to you, another twenty-six won't. It costs ten times as much to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one, so it’s imperative to keep the ones you have, happy.

Remember that your number-one customer is your competitors’ number-one prospect. After only one negative experience at your dealership, any customer can leave you for your competitor and never return. Give yourself the chance to retain every single customer by making sure you know about each instance of dissatisfaction.

You’ve probably heard the age-old statistic that when a customer is dissatisfied, he or she will tell 14 to 17 other people how unhappy they are. According to an article from the Harvard Business Review, if you just listento an upset customer’s problem without taking any action to resolve it, they will tell only 7 people of their dissatisfaction. If you listen and attempt to solve the problem, even if your effort is unsuccessful, they will tell no one that they are dissatisfied. Finally, if you listen and then actually solve the problem, that customer will tell 5 people how effective you are! This compares favorably with customers who didn’t have a problem in the first place. They will tell only 3 people, on the average, how happy they are with their good service experience!

When a customer has a complaint, you must be certain to have a tool in place to uncover the problem, and you must have a process ready to resolve it. If both of these requirements are met, you can begin to view customer dissatisfaction as an opportunity rather than a problem.

Understanding the importance of customer follow-up, what method should you use, and how should you implement this program? Telephone follow-up is proven to be the most effective, allowing you to reach the highest number of customers and gather the most feedback. Mail and e-mail surveys are other options, but typically they produce a survey return rate of less than 10 per cent, compared to completed telephone survey rates that can surpass 80 per cent.

Telephone follow-up will have a major impact on your customer retention, customer loyalty, and especially CSI. You will have the ability to resolve more customer complaints prior to each customer receiving the manufacturer survey. In addition, more CSI-sensitive customers will receive a follow-up. Therefore, more satisfied customers will be made aware of the manufacturer survey. Your customers must be educated that this survey is extremely important, serves as a report card, and anything less than the best possible rating is complete failure. This should be a conversation, not just a script, and it must come from the heart, while still maintaining the customer’s undivided attention. If the follow-up is completed each day, a high contact percentage is maintained, and if the manufacturer survey information is properly communicated, CSI should skyrocket! Major influences on raising CSI are resolving dissatisfaction, generating more survey returns, and getting more top box responses on those returns.

If you decide to follow-up with your customers by telephone, you might want to consider the many benefits of outsourcing to third-party follow-up specialists. You will save time and money while you reap the benefits of higher contact percentages. Your survey results will be completely unbiased, and your customers will really open up to professionally trained, third-party interviewers. You will receive detailed summary CSI reports, and most importantly, your follow-up will always get done.

How could an outside company possibly be less expensive than in-house follow-up? One reason is that many research companies utilize rapid dialing technology that is approximately three times more efficient than manual telephone dialing done in-house. A nationwide study analyzing service department telephone follow-up proves that one individual manually dialing would be required to call uninterrupted for nearly 2 hours in order to make contact with one customer who was not completely satisfied with their service experience. That customer problem could provide priceless information, but this follow-up process quickly becomes time-consuming and expensive.

In-house telephone follow-up is hard work, but the majority of the labor consists of dialing number after number, reaching answering machines, and shuffling paper.