Sales+Marketing Shop Customers Operations

The Perfect Customer Greeting

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Jamie Dodd details how service advisors can put customers at ease from the first point of contact.

The first impression you give a customer walking into your shop or giving you a call is vital, and can be the first step to creating a long-term relationship. These customers might be scared, or uneasy, walking into the shop, and it’s your job to put them at ease as soon as possible.

After 13 years of administrative work in a counseling center, Jamie Dodd and her husband, Darren, took over Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Autosmith in 2013 with a goal to put an emphasis on customer service, and building relationships with its customer base. Since then, she’s worked to market the shop and maintain its reputation as an alternative to the stereotypically impersonal auto care experience.

“I’ve been to places where the advisor will barely look up from the computer, or mumble something,” Dodd says. “You know the customer’s coming in, you have the schedule right in front of you, so why can’t you greet them by name?”

In her five years of working at the business, Dodd has been the main point of contact for customers at the front counter, and over the phone. Dodd gives several tips to put together perfect customer greetings both inside the business and over the phone.

 

I try to keep things as organic and simple as possible when answering the phone. Typically, I give a good morning/good afternoon, thank you for calling Autosmith, and make sure to give them my name.

It’s important that customers have a real interaction with you versus one that’s scripted. Anybody who’s made a call to tech support and they read from a script knows how frustrating it is. Customers will always be one step ahead of your script. And it’s often difficult for your service advisors to remember a long script.

One thing that I’d suggest is smiling when you’re talking. It sounds kind of silly, but if you’re smiling when talking with somebody, that smile relays across the phone. That person can hear it in your voice.

After the initial greeting, you can start asking those probing questions, seeing why they’re bringing in their vehicle. Start putting them at ease with that phone call, because you’re actually putting in the time to get to know them. Questions on what they’re seeing with their vehicle may seem mundane, but are really important on the customer service side because they’re being heard.

When a person walks into the shop and you know they have an appointment, look up and greet them by name. If you get it wrong, just say you’re sorry, and you have another person coming in for an appointment with that name. You’re still being personal to them and starting that conversation.

If you’re busy, just give the person an acknowledgement—it’s important to say you’ll be right with them. Then they know that they’re seen. Especially with women, it’s really hard to walk into a shop by yourself. To not be seen or heard makes it even harder to continue doing business with someone.

Keep your body language completely open and friendly as a service advisor. Arms crossed, and staring at the computer is never something that goes well with the customer. Often, when I’m taking notes, I’ll continue to make eye contact with the person.

If they’re here for an oil change, I’ll try to see if there’s anything else going on. I’ll just ask, “Is there anything else I need to look at for you?” From there you can start the conversation with things that might show up with my checkout.

You can rotate people on the front desk based on their mood throughout the day. If you have somebody who’s really cheerful in the morning, put them up front, and let them check in customers for you. It doesn’t even have to be a service advisor; it can be an office assistant, since they’re just making notes with that initial conversation. If you can train someone to do that, and do it well, your customers will have a much better experience. It might even lead to them becoming a service advisor so you can move them up in the shop.

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