A Shop Owner’s Guide to Customer Care Calls
We all know the importance of customer follow-up calls, and although there is no one procedure that works for everyone, here are five considerations that the top shop owners in America have found to be most critical to obtaining the valuable customer feedback your shop needs.
No. 1: Decide who will be making your customer care calls. Although there are certain benefits to having your advisors make the calls, there are also disadvantages that come along with that decision. One is that if the customer was not pleased with their experience with that advisor, then you may never know about it. As the owner of your shop, your second option is for you to make the calls. Although there’s some value in being able to hear the feedback directly, in reality, your time would be better spent setting the goals of the company, bringing out the best in your employees, etc. The ideal person for the job? If you look at your customer base, I am confident you will find many life-long customers who love you and your employees, have the ideal personalities, and if they are retired, semi-retired, care for their children at home, etc., they can work from their home and make a nice added income.
No. 2: Decide how you will compensate the person making the calls. The behavior you get is the behavior you reward, so if you reward them for each call, there’s a possibility that they will be more interested in the number of calls they make than they are in the quality of the calls. Accordingly, I would strongly encourage you to simply pay an attractive hourly rate based on the honor system. I have found that when you have the right people making those calls, the risk of being overcharged all but disappears.
No. 3: Conclude who you will call and when. I strongly believe that you need to call all first-time customers, you need to call all customers who have had any type of repair performed, and you need to call all recent warranty repair/comeback customers. In my opinion, you don’t necessarily need to call repeat customers who had nothing done other than simple services. You can still touch base with them, but it should be no more than once every 10 months, otherwise those life-long customers may wonder why you are calling them when all that was done was an oil service.
With regards to when to make the calls, I recommend calling between 24-48 hours of when the customer picks up their vehicle. If you call them within 24 hours, they may not have had the time to drive their vehicle and properly evaluate your service. If you wait beyond 48 hours, they may forget some details about their experience at your shop, and if they’re not pleased their frustration will grow, and they’ll be more likely to tell their friends.
When it comes to the time of the day, this will depend on the demographics of your customers (retired, day-time workers, commuters, etc.), but we’ve discovered that you’ll be most likely to reach them when you call between the hours of 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
No. 4: Have a call script and ensure your caller is properly trained. You can certainly create a list of questions, but over the years I have found that the best way to discover what your customers are really thinking (or concerned about) is ending your greeting with the open-ended, “How did we do?”. For example: “…you were out at the shop the other day, and I’m just following up to make sure we met with your expectations, Diana. So let me ask you; How did we do?”
If your caller is directed to voicemail, I recommend leaving a message that goes something like: “Hi, Diana. This is Bob from Elite Auto Care. I realize you were just in the other day, so I wanted to follow up with you to ensure we met with your expectations. If you have any questions, or if there’s anything else we can do for you, please give me a call, Diana. You can reach me at (858) 756-3102. That number again is (858) 756-3102. Thanks again for your trust in us, and please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can help you in any way.”
Once the calls have been completed and the results have been provided to you, ensure you put all of the discoveries in your business management system, discuss your findings at your team meetings, and use the information to improve the quality of your service.
No. 5: Never forget that mistakes will be made. Regardless of how talented your employees are, mistakes will be made. The good news is that you and your team will learn from them, and that your customers will ultimately judge you not by the mistakes that were made, but by how you respond to them. If you have the right people, if you stay in touch with your customers, and if you never put money ahead of people, not only will mistakes be few and far between, but when they do occur, I am confident that those customers will be thrilled with how you exceed their expectations in making things right.