I was visiting a dealership repair center recently, and while sitting in the customer lounge working on my laptop, I couldn’t help but identify with some of those “waiters”, who during my 30+ years in retail, I referred to them as just that…”waiters”. I watched and recognized emotions of restlessness, uncertainty, frustration, impatience, curiosity, and anxiety…all very disheartening to me. I listened to only hear words denoting negative connotations…”I wonder how much longer…I hope this doesn’t cost more than I anticipated…. I need to pick up the kids….Did they go to lunch?” (and more). One gentleman started pacing and went out to inquire on his vehicle a couple of times! The one significant issue I identified was lack of communication! Not one time did an advisor come by to report on the current status of their customers’ vehicles!
Those of us in the industry sometimes fail to put ourselves in the mind of the customer; however, if we relate this scenario to experiences in our own lives where we find ourselves “waiting”, consider the thought process. Waiting in the doctor’s office after the nurse checked vitals and states the doctor will be in shortly… Twenty minutes later…”Did they forget about me?” You can hear doors opening and closing around you and are convinced that the doc went in to see the wrong patient! Or how about waiting for teenage children to come home around curfew time… It is after 11:00..no phone call…our mind wanders to think only the worst has happened! My point is: While waiting, “No News” does not equate to “Good News”! “No news” keeps the “waiter” jumping to negative conclusions and anticipating the worst possible outcome. Physiological changes in the body take place…blood pressure rises, palms sweaty, headaches and irritability set in! Is this the state of being you wish to find your customer when you do have to confront them with the “bad news”? Or even if you have “good news” for them, you will not benefit from the value of a happy customer with a fantastic experience due only to the lack of communication factor!
Keep them informed throughout the process! Touching the customer only when the repairs are finally completed is not good business! “Your vehicle has been diagnosed, we have the parts in stock, it should be another hour”, “We ran into a little snag as your bolts were corroded and difficult to get off, but I just put two guys on it and we are looking at another ½ hour”, “The part which we received was faulty, but no worries, we sent our parts driver to pick up another one and he will be back in a few minutes and your vehicle will be fixed right this visit!” (Notice, I use the words they will find on their survey in question form.)
In conclusion, don’t punish your customer who chooses to wait! I know you would much rather have the customer leave their vehicle with you for the day and operate within your schedule, not theirs! I have heard Service Managers state, It is not my fault THEY CHOSE to wait…(like they deserve what they get). Waiting cuts into that wonderful gift we have called “time” and time is more valuable these days than ever! Don’t avoid the waiter, in only creates deeper issues….communicate!