How to train your customers to ensure more efficient processes

July 2, 2019
Have you tried to “train” your customers? To get them to work with all the processes you have in place that makes your shop run smoothly and efficiently? If not, it is time to.

Is the morning chaotic at your shop? Customers all showing up at the same time wanting to get in and out as fast as possible, forcing you to rush through every interaction? When you call or text customers, do they get back to you quickly? Are they declining work because they are not prepared for it financially or mentally? Do your customers return to your shop for the services their vehicles need?

More than likely your shop experiences the above and other scenarios every day, which are affecting your service process, ultimately slowing it down or even stopping it all together.

You know that the customer experience is one of the most important aspects that contributes to your shop’s success. Because of this, you have many systems in place to make each visit to your shop go quickly and smoothly as possible. Yet you still have issues with handling customers and customer satisfaction leaving you asking yourself, “why?” What else can I do? How can I fix this?

Have you tried to “train” your customers? To get them to work with all the processes you have in place that makes your shop run smoothly and efficiently? If not, it is time to.

What stops most shops from training their customers is the fear that the customers will reject the training and stop coming to your shop because of it. The opposite of this is true. Customers can become a part of your service process making it work better. Because we never really explain to the customer what our expectations from them are when they are at our shop, they don’t know how they affect the work flow and the getting their vehicle back sooner than later.

Will all your customers accept your ideas and training? No. There will always be those that don’t care or are not interested in it. They just want their vehicles worked on and completed soon as possible.  And that is ok. If we can train most of our clientele, we will be in a better position to deal with these customers building on our service success.

Realize that we are trained by many of the businesses we frequent in our lives. When I go to the dentist, I know that I will set my next appointment before I leave the current one. I will even be told of the recommendations for what will be done at that visit.

You go to a busy deli and many other businesses, you will take a “number” and wait for it to be called indicating it’s your turn. You go to Starbucks and stand in line ready to give your order, name, pay and then wait till your name is called when the beverage is ready.

Training is basically setting the customer’s expectations. We let them know what we expect from them, and they know what to expect from us. If all these expectations are met, both the customer and business win.

Customer training begins with the appointment phone call. The customer will expect that the shop will gather the important information such as name, phone number, vehicle type, year and what needs to be done. The advisor gathers this information entering it in the SMS calendar and then goes over any recommendations that may need to be done during the visit. Doing this will mentally and financially prepare the customer for the visit. Not surprise them the day of the visit.

The advisor checks to see if the day the customer requests will work based on what is due on the vehicle. Day agreed on, now the advisor will tell the customer what time they are to drop off their vehicle and go over the details of the appointment. The time given is for the customer to meet with the advisor, not when the vehicle is going into the shop. When setting the appointment, the advisor sets aside about 15 minutes for each customer.

Training the customer that they are to come in at a specific time should involve telling the customer that a 15-minute block of time is being locked so that the advisor can focus only on that customer’s wants and concerns. Building the value in this helps set the expectations. Delivering this experience will reinforce the training and the customer repeating it in the future.
The advantages to this are many:  

  • During the appointment call most of the estimate should be already completed.
  • The customer is now prepared for the overall costs and what is needed to be done making authorizing of any work easier and up front.
  • The customer can know that they have 15 minutes with the advisor at a specific time so they can plan any rides or other details based on this.

Getting customers “trained” to follow this process will decrease the rush in the morning.

You will still need a plan to deal with your walk-ins. Ways to handle this are to limit the amount of scheduled appointments you have during the rush time. Build extra time into the appointments giving you a window of time for writing up the walk-ins. Over time your staff and customers will be “trained” to follow the above steps resulting in more sales, a better customer drop-off experience and less of a rush in the morning. 

Another way to train your customers is on how they communicate with you during the repair visit.  The first step will be to limit phone usage and switch to texting. Eliminating phone calls and the leaving of messages will open your phone lines for more important things such as setting appointments and selling work.

With a texting solution in use, take time with each customer to introduce to them on how your shop will use text. Start by getting their OK to use text and send them your shop’s “Vcard” that has all your contact information on it (Some text solutions do this automatically with the first text sent to a new phone number.) and have the customer put your shop information into their contacts.  With this completed, every time you text the customer your shop name will come up and they will know the text is about their vehicle. Reinforce with the customer that they need to respond to these texts quickly, so their vehicle gets completed as soon as possible.

Train your customers to expect an “exit conversation” either in person or on the phone. During this the advisor should go over the results of the current visit and then go over the recommendations and services that may be due during the next visit.

Finish this conversation by setting the customer’s next appointment before they leave based on their actual driving habits and service intervals. If using a texting solution such as Bolt On Technology’s Message Manager, let them know that they will get an automatic appointment reminder text from your shop one week before the next appointment. If the appointment time and day works, all they need to do is text the letter “C” back to the shop text number to confirm the appointment. CRMs can also send reminders to customers but that usually occurs after today’s appointment completion. We want to set the expectation now before they leave, further training the customer to return.

Yes, putting these ideas in place will take some time and resolve at first, but they will reward your efforts over the lifetime of your customers. Every visit will pay you back for the time invested up front. You will get more visits and authorizations from each customer because of your training them to set a complete appointment up front, show up on time, eliminate the delays of the phone, and setting them up with the expectation to return to your shop whenever their vehicle needs service.

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