TROY, Mich. — There's a simple way to make customers happier when they walk into a shop.
Say hello. Quickly.
A new survey from J.D. Power found that saying hello and acknowledging customers upon arrival at an aftermarket service facility can improve customer satisfaction scores significantly, especially at full-service maintenance and repair, quick oil changes and tire replacement shops.
Those scores decline when customers wait more than three minutes before they're acknowledged, according to the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Aftermarket Service Index StudySM fueled by SurveyMonkey, released Jan. 14.
"One of every 10 customers waits more than five minutes before speaking with someone at a service facility," Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail at J.D. Power, said. "Seeing as how the pandemic has affected service volume, it's really important to do a great job with the customers who do come through the door.
"Not being acknowledged can make customers feel that their time isn't valued. Aftermarket service providers need to ensure someone is available to greet customers when they arrive, even if it's just to say, 'hello.' Otherwise, they run the risk of losing out on return business."
The survey ranked companies based on seven measures that comprise the vehicle owner service experience: ease of scheduling/getting vehicle in for service; service adviser performance; service adviser courtesy; service facility; time to complete service; fairness of charges; and quality of work.
Companies ranked by J.D. Power include:
- Christian Brothers Automotive Corp. ranked highest in satisfaction for full-service maintenance and repair, followed by Big O Tires and Goodyear Tire & Auto Service.
- Take 5 Oil Change ranked highest in satisfaction for quick oil change, followed by Valvoline Instant Oil Change and Kwik Kar.
- Les Schwab Tire Centers ranked highest in satisfaction for tire replacement. Discount Tire was second and Costco third.
Here are three other findings from the study, which now in its second year:
Recommend service the right way
When service personnel recommend additional work, it's important that customers understand its value and purpose.
"Suggesting additional work can be a real test of trust," Mr. Sutton said. "Coming across as pushy or recommending perceived unnecessary work can negatively affect satisfaction, but downplaying potentially important work can result in a missed opportunity or even create safety concerns. It's critical that service personnel be able to justify their recommendations."
Fix it right the first time
Successfully completing work the first time is the most important Key Performance Indicator (KPI) to increase customer satisfaction.
Pay attention to detail
Maintaining a clean service facility — which has become more important since the pandemic began — can account for higher satisfaction scores.
Satisfaction improves when the service facility is cleaner than customers expect. Additionally, satisfaction can improve when customers are contacted after service was completed.
"Simple things — like explaining to customers about the facility's cleaning protocols — can make the difference between whether or not they willingly plan to return for future business or will recommend it to others," Sutton said. "Aftermarket service providers should pay special attention to simple actions that can enhance the customer experience."
The 2021 ASI study was based on responses from 8,148 vehicle owners. Survey data collection was conducted online from July through October 2020.