Turning Customer Engagement Into Education
Strike up a conversation with Franconia Auto Repair office manager Desiree Jeremenko and you'll immediately notice that she cares.
“Desiree has a warm and caring personality, plus good sales and communication skills,” Franconia Auto Repair shop owner Joe Amorosi says.
Combine these traits and you get Jeremenko’s approach to customer service, which leaves the customers of Franconia Auto Repair in Hatfield, Pa., feeling confident and well taken care of. This has become a crucial part of Jeremenko’s operations as an office manager—a role in which she does a little bit of everything.
What is her favorite part of the job that she has held for nearly three years?
“The customer interaction,” she says, without any hesitation.
Jeremenko’s people skills have cultivated a foundation of reliability and respect because she knows that repair work can be intimidating and confusing to customers who may not have a frame of reference. Here, she outlines some of her strategies for maintaining customer engagement and implementing opportunities for education.
Streamline your processes.
Jeremenko has helped implement various new projects and processes. Some of those initiatives have involved making daily work at the shop simpler, such as moving more of their presence online. Jeremenko does some purchasing for the shop online, and is currently giving Franconia’s website a revamp.
“It’s a little above and beyond,” Jeremenko admits of her eagerness to do a digital overhaul, but ultimately it makes servicing customers smoother.
“I come from a sales and education background, and I believe that if you truly believe in your product and it’s a solid product, then you should sell it as such,” Jeremenko says. “ And I believe in what our mechanics are capable of.”
By streamlining and utilizing new digitized initiatives, such as a new digital vehicle inspection program that she put into place, Jeremenko is able to accurately represent the work that Franconia can provide, as well as make the entire process approachable for everyone involved. It helps with efficiency, which in turn makes for a happier customer base.
Meet customers where they are.
Aside from helping the initial processing run smoother, Jeremenko also goes the extra mile to ensure that customers are completely in tune with what is being fixed on their vehicles and why. This became important to her when she noticed holes in customer understanding.
Jeremenko wrote, researched and designed a tri-fold brochure about tire care and replacement for all-wheel drive vehicles because many of the customers she spoke to had a difficult time fully comprehending the topic. Her frustration with not being able to provide the full picture manifested into something physical that she could hand to customers.
“The reason I became so strong-minded and wanted to make something was because trying to explain all that to a customer was a little overwhelming for the customer to swallow,” she explains. “I just handed one out the other day.”
For Jeremenko, it is about meeting customers where they are. Not all customers have the same amount of knowledge when it comes to vehicle repair. She looks at each interaction as a learning opportunity.
Whether it be through a tri-fold or simply a conversation, Jeremenko says that the more personalized your approach is, the better.
Build a sense of community.
Ultimately, Jeremenko’s hope is that the shop is a place that people can trust.
“The saddest thing to hear from this side of the counter is that a customer has been shafted by another auto clinic,” she says.
She strives to combat this by establishing a solid foundation.
“It’s a two-way street,” she says. “You earn your customer’s trust, and you trust your customers.”
Jeremenko’s role as office manager is steeped in customer service, so often, she is a customer’s first point of contact. She says she has noticed on some of the online reviews left for Franconia that customers comment on the high level of comfort they feel after having a conversation with her, and this is no accident.
Jeremenko takes time to go through every detail that she can with each customer with whom she interacts. She thoroughly explains how the repair is going to be tackled, what it all means, and makes sure the customer knows what stage they are at in the process. Details like this may seem inconsequential to employees of a repair shop who know all the lingo and jargon, but to a customer this makes all the difference.
“Some people call it a little too thorough,” Jeremenko says. “But some find it advantageous.”
The customers that fall into the latter category are the ones returning to Franconia because of this community that Jeremenko has helped establish.