5 Keys to Building Customer Loyalty
-by Sally Whitesell for Fixed Ops Magazine.
These days we’re all focused on making sure our guests are completely satisfied. We seem to think that if they are, they will become loyal clients.
This simply isn’t true.
Loyalty is not built through a satisfactory experience, it is built through something much more important – relationships.
The art of relationship building is not complicated, but it does take skill, time and effort. This is why we teach service advisors to spend about 7-10 minutes performing a walk-around process that includes relationship building at the write-up. If they hurry guests through the process because they are rushing to get the job done, they will miss the opportunity to build a relationship with the client. No relationship has ever been built “real quick.” Without a relationship, clients will go wherever is convenient because they don’t see a difference in one store vs. another.
Google Consumer Surveys confirmed this in a study done in 2013. After surveying over 2000 people, the findings were simple; clients don’t feel there is any differentiation between service facilities. They were quoted as saying, “I feel I can take my car anywhere for maintenance because they are all the same.” This is clear evidence that we can only create loyalty through building trusting relationships.
The first step is to teach your team how to build rapport. The word rapport originates from a French word that means “bring back.” In other words, whatever (vibe, attitude, emotion) our customers send out, we send right back to them. Of course we don’t do this with upset customers, but you will see how the following steps will help your advisors turn these clients around.
Rapport is built through a back and forth communication style that can be learned. Often I remind advisors that we want to talk with our guests not at them. These conversations can help clients feel that we share beliefs, values and behaviors. Here are a few points you can discuss with your team so they can master these skills.
“In order to expedite your repairs, I am going to ask a series of diagnostic questions.”
“For your convenience, let’s walk around your car together while I gather information.”
Anthony Robbins sums it up nicely: “When people are like each other they tend to like each other.” If your clients don’t like your advisors as people, they may be satisfied with your service, but they won’t come back. Everyone enjoys doing business with people they like, trust, and respect; yet in order to establish these qualities we must make an effort to connect.
Think about the companies you enjoy doing business with. Why do you go back? Is it that the product is so much better than their competitors or is it that you have made a connection with someone within the business? I am pretty sure your loyalty has been developed because someone within that business has made you feel like you are important and that they are glad to see you every time you walk through the door. This is also true of your employees. Do your managers connect with your team and practice RASA on a day-to-day basis? Employee retention/loyalty is at it lowest across the board in our industry. Practicing these methods every single day could help us all build some relationships that will pay off personally and professionally.
Sally Whitesell is President of sw Service Solutions, which offers in-store training nationwide and Fixed Ops University; engaging online training for managers and service advisors. Sally brings over 21 years of on-the-drive experience to her training, seminars and books, which include her highly sought after “What Drives Women?” program and her book, “Words That Sell Service.”