Service sales professionals can earn more customer trust and loyalty by adopting a more professional, caring tone.
That is, replace trendy, potentially offensive phrases with intelligent, insightful observations or advice.
In recent columns, I have urged all service personnel to work more efficiently by communicating more clearly with customers as well as with each other. Communicating clearly and effectively with sales prospects on the other side of the counter is vital to successful selling. But it's equally important when speaking to the technicians in the bays.
Focus harder on saying what you need to say as simply and clearly as possible. Remember that clarity and simplicity foster brev-ity. As the ol' Bard Bill Shakespeare noted, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Yes, brevity improves overall business efficiency by saving time. Obviously, everyone's busy—from the motorists in front of the service counter to the workers out in the bays. Typically, they all appreciate someone who knows how to get to the point.
The challenge here is to be brief but also to sound professional and reasonably sympathetic. I'm concerned about salespersons who seem to sound hip or clever. I realize this is a highly subjective call on my part. But to me, some trendy and supposedly cute comments don't advance the business' agenda. My favorite example is the quip, “It is what it is!”
Whenever and wherever this phrase is used, my instinctive reaction to it is, “No, as a matter of fact, I don't know what 'it' is. If you're so smart, please tell me what I've missed here. State your conclusion and clarify what 'it' is.”
Now picture a motorist at a service counter. Perhaps he or she is picking up a repaired vehicle. The person's facial expression and body language suggest concern, worry and/or disappointment. The conversation you overhear confirms that the required repairs—and the cost—far exceeded expectations. These things happen; the customer seems to accept the outcome.
But then the service writer concludes his or her comments glibly with, “It is what it is!” The customer, to say the least, appears pained, unhappy, uncomfortable.
Perhaps I'm an unsophisticated old fart; maybe I just hear and see some things differently. Regardless, let me know if the following comments sound more professional, intelligent and sympathetic.
“We're sorry you had these difficulties, Ms. Customer. You seem to take good care of your vehicle, but sometimes these components do fail. And unfortunately, the proper fix is never inexpensive.”
This kind of comment restates or recaps the exact failure, the thorough repair and the cost of same. Plus, it shows empathy and respect for the customer's money.
You needn't kiss anyone's fanny. But you can sound respectful and sympathetic in other ways. “We appreciate your business, Ms. Customer. And yes, it's not uncommon to see these failures on this generation and model of car. You're lucky that the components lasted as long as they did. But no worry now, we've straightened it out for you.”
Remember that you're the automotive doctor and good doctors give good advice. “Ms. Customer, it's a shame this failed. We appreciate your business and we'd hate to see a repeat failure. Let us recommend the maintenance intervals we've found help these cars last longer. After all, the maintenance costs far less than repairs do.”
Mind you, these are only a few examples that I believe are far more tactful and trust-earning than cute expressions are. There are many ways to get to the point, gracefully recap the situation and offer appropriate advice—where appropriate. In the future, think twice about how you're expressing yourself and what your message may mean to the people paying the bills.