Strengthen Your Customer Relationships Through Communication
The Ratchet+Wrench All-Star Awards nomination for Kim Taylor, owner of two Titan Auto & Tire locations in Virginia, ends with this statement, “Each individual customer that comes through her doors is an opportunity to educate and improve safety on the road. She builds great relationships with her customers and community.”
Taylor owns Titan Auto & Tire with her husband, and says she started in the business around 15 years ago.
In order to build and sustain strong relationships with her customers, Taylor puts a large emphasis on communication and education. Through text messages, reviews, and follow-ups, she encourages her customers to communicate their shop experiences with her.
“Every piece of feedback—even though your employees may not think it’s valid—there’s something to it that can be learned to improve service,” Taylor says.
Facilitate direct contact.
Just this past year, Titan Auto & Tire began a new form of customer communication. Taylor says she has always been active in replying to online reviews and reaching out to customers, but the business has recently implemented a text-based CRM program to strengthen the connection between shop and customer.
Three days after the customer’s service, he or she will receive a text from the shop. The message will thank the customer for coming and ask about how his or her vehicle is performing, as well as an open-ended question asking for any concerns. Taylor says this text acts as a way to make sure that her customers feel heard.
When customers respond to the text, they respond directly to Taylor, who says they typically receive positive comments, and sometimes a concern on how the visit went or how something was dealt with.
“We take every complaint and concern very seriously,” she explains.
Taylor says that at Titan Auto & Tire, they take the suggestions from customers and utilize the feedback in order to improve their processes.
Empower your customers.
To further develop strong customer relationships, Titan Auto & Tire puts a strong emphasis on customer education.
“We want our customers to feel like they are empowered to make good decisions,” Taylor says. “We don't want people to think that we are leading them into a decision.”
To help facilitate open communication and education, the shops’ technicians will take pictures of certain inspection points of the vehicle—as a part of their digital inspection process—to then share with the patron. If the customer is waiting in the shop, an employee will take him or her to the back and show the areas of the vehicle that her or she has a concern with, as well as the service recommendations. This way, customers can make informed decisions on prioritizing repairs and maintenance.
“This is great, especially for women,” Taylor says. “[For them] to be able to go in the back and see their vehicle to really understand what is being talked about—to see what’s wrong and why.”
Keep communication open.
Tayor’s biggest tip for strengthening customer relationships, is to provide them with several ways to get in touch with the shop.
Something Taylor has noticed through her open communication policy—specifically from the new text-based communication—is that since the texts are more or less being signed by the owners, it gives the customers a safe space to really give their feedback.
“It’s great to get the positive feedback, but it’s even better to get the negative feedback; you can’t fix what you don't know is broken,” Taylor says. “It’s been amazing what I’ve found that needed to be fixed.”
Having spaces that allow for customers to reach out directly to the shop owners, as well as giving them the resources to know how to get ahold of the shop, has definitely helped strengthen the customer relationships at Titan Auto & Tire, Taylor says. She will even give her personal cell phone number to the customer if the situation needs further communication.
“You just really need to be available to your customers,” she explains.