All it really requires is emotional intelligence and some common sense about what customers crave.
By Katie Mares
Most shop owners think offering a “five-star experience” carries an additional expense. It is perceived as the result of a retail strategy that leans toward luxury.
But offering your customers a five-star experience doesn’t have to drive up your prices, involve a lot of extra expenses, or cost you additional time.
If you’re among those who think the average automotive repair shop cannot offer five-star experiences, you may be misunderstanding what is involved. More importantly, you may be selling yourself short.
It can be achieved in any organization, in any industry, regardless of the service being provided. All it really requires is that your frontline people be… well… nice people!
A five-star experience hinges on the emotional intelligence of your staff, as they turn a basic transaction into an interactional event that customers will enjoy and remember.
Here are five tips to achieving that level of service.
We’ve all heard the adage ‘It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.’ This is especially true when it comes to the customer’s experience. Our vocal tone and facial expression send subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle!) messages that are picked up by the customer. A friendly tone is particularly important when talking on the phone. Your customer can’t see your expression, but they can tell if you are smiling or not. Practice role-playing with your team. Give them a scenario and focus on the tone of their voice.
Using a customer’s name not only shows respect but is the most important words you can use to create a connection. Surprisingly, this is one of the hardest things for some employees to execute. They may be a little shy, or worried that it suggests an intimacy they haven’t heard. But customers love it. It takes a little practice, but when it becomes a habit, the results are amazing.
We make decisions based on the feelings we have, not the facts and figures that are presented to us. Humans crave connection and will stop doing business with you if they don’t feel anyone is attempting to make a connection, or if the attempt is disingenuous. Customer’s want you to authentically engage and show interest in them. The 80-20 rule applies here. Let the customer do 80% of the time while you spend your 20% of the time asking questions and showing genuine interest. Not only does this create a connection but it allows you to better succeed at Step 4.
A customer doesn’t want to have to work hard to get their needs met. It’s your job to anticipate what they want or need. Of course they have to give you the basics, but once you know why they’re in your shop, there’s a lot you can intuit, or anticipate. Pay attention to what they say and remember their preferences from visit to visit. Take notes and use them!
Last but not least, you must be seen as being the expert at what you do. You must certainly know more than your customer about what may be ailing their vehicle, or the kind of maintenance they need. This means know more than just what is printed on your marketing material, website, or social channels. Be efficient in what you say and ask. It builds credibility. Matching your knowledge to the needs of your customer will go a long way in establishing trust.
A five-star experience can be achieved in any organization regardless of the industry but requires your people to be genuine, anticipatory, knowledgeable, and friendly. Transforming your mind set (and that of your team) will let you rise above providing simple customer service to providing a uniquely positive experience.
Katie Mares is a certified speaking professional, business consultant, and a partner in the business training company, Alkamey Group.
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