A competent, savvy service manager recognizes whenever a customer has unrealistic time demands or expectations for repair jobs.
The manager maintains control of the transaction by carefully qualifying what a reasonable repair time really is. Simply put, a smart manager doesn't let notions of instant gratification interfere with a job done right the first time—and its impact on building customer trust.
In previous columns I have discussed my concerns about today's consumers and their wishful feelings that they can have it all. Namely, modern mass marketing pitches the idea that today's consumer can have the best quality, the lowest price and the quickest turnaround time. In short, many service providers' promotions suggest that they're providing instant gratification—nothing more, nothing less.
To hear some advertisers pitch their services, you'd think that waiting for quality work is a more heinous crime than child trafficking. To hear some, you'd think the Bill of Rights ensures immediate service with successful repairs—at the very least. Service providers worth their salt simply owe instant gratification to consumers.
Whoa, readers, whoa! Once again, I urge and advise you to take a deep breath. Then keep a level-headed perspective on the automotive maintenance and repair work you offer. I have performed the work and done it correctly. More importantly, I have been observing the better—if not best—technicians across this industry performing the work properly for years. This cumulative experience leads me to only one conclusion: Quality work always demands and requires a minimum amount of time.
Surely you can try to shortcut that minimum required time. But shortcutting many automotive tasks is flirting with disaster because it breeds misdiagnoses as well as repair mistakes. Ultimately, mistakes and errant diagnoses cost time instead of saving time. They breed mistrust instead of confidence in your service department.
In spite of my continued carping about the need to meet or exceed customers' expectations, I repeatedly observe service personnel at all levels of a business repeating a basic mistake: They behave as if turning each job in record time is the sole path to customer satisfaction. It never has been and never will be.
The path to success is the theme of “fixed right the first time” and, as I explained a moment ago, that requires time. It demands a certain amount of time regardless of what a consumer expects—or demands—in the realm of instant gratification.
To quote an old expression, “We've seen this movie before and it doesn't end well.” That is, turning a repair job around with lightning speed is quickly forgotten when the motorist realizes the job wasn't done correctly.
What's more, experience suggests that the same motorist who pushed you for fast turnaround isn't likely to tell friends, family and neighbors that he or she were the instigator. All their friends know is that your crew failed to fix it right the first time.
So allowing a customer to push for results in an unrealistic time is wholly counterproductive. Allowing mass market advertising to convince you that speed—instant gratification—trumps all is an equally disastrous philosophy. Remember that competent doctors, lawyers and accountants build their reputations on quality and accuracy instead of speed for speed's sake. Competent professionals don't allow anxious consumers to bully them into rushing their work, so why would you allow a motorist to push your crew with unrealistic demands?
Patiently and clearly clarify how long work takes. Yes, it's more work and it demands good communication skills. Ultimately, it's much easier to back off a time estimate than to inflate one. The customer is always relieved and pleased when told the job's ready 90 minutes sooner than expected but, conversely, chagrined when you call demanding an extra 90 minutes because the job didn't go smoothly.