Every visit a customer makes to an auto service facility is like a mini-journey. When that trip is over, you want the customer to feel well-served, valued and maybe even a bit delighted.

Great customer service training is what makes that happen. Let’s break down the customer experience to see how training can help.

Managing the Customer Arrival

Service writers should be trained to greet every customer quickly upon entrance. If they’re with another customer, they should acknowledge the customer who just arrived and say, “I will be with you shortly.”  The manager should learn and use the customer’s name, make eye contact, shake hands, introduce him or herself by name and take personal ownership of the service experience. A good greeting to use is, “Good morning, Mr. Carson; I’m Paul Collins. I’ll be supervising your car’s service this morning.”

Going Over the Work to Be Done

This process typically starts by reviewing why the customer is there. If he or she made an appointment before the visit, your service writer should review the paperwork ahead of time and have it ready to discuss with the customer. Don’t miss the chance to provide exceptional service at this step. The service writers should ask questions about the vehicle: “Mr. Carson, you are here for your 35,000-mile service, correct? How is everything with your car?”

Train service representatives to use good listening skills. They should focus on the customer, take notes, repeat what the customer has stated and then ask clarifying questions: “Just so I understand, Mr. Carson, the car idles roughly when you first start it on cold days; how long does it take for that to go away?”

Train service representatives to use good listening skills.

The next step is to clearly explain the work that will be done. The service writer should review with the customer a print-out that lists what will be done, item by item. If the service involves testing to diagnose a problem, the writer should explain that testing and the possible outcomes: “Mr. Carson, we will diagnose the rough idle on our scanner, which will tell us whether it’s due to a faulty engine sensor, which takes about a half hour to replace. We will let you know as soon as we have run the test.”

Providing an Exceptional Experience While Work Is Being Done

The service writer should ask where the customer will be while the car is being serviced and ask for a cell phone number to send text messages. Train service writers to text customers with updates or visit them in person if they are waiting in the facility.

If the vehicle requires any unexpected services or costs, service writers should explain them, offer options and obtain approval before proceeding: “Mr. Carson, your windshield wipers should be replaced. Factory original wipers cost $25. Would you like us to replace them for you?”

Reviewing Services That Have Been Performed

Service writers should print a summary of the work that was done, go over it point-by-point with customer before they leave, and ask whether they need any more information. Then, they should walk them to their car, shake their hand and say, “Thank you, Mr. Carson.” 

Many dealerships now have a receptionist who calls customers to ask, “Were you pleased with your service?” In my view, it is better to have the service writer who handled the visit make that call and say, “Mr. Carson, it’s Paul from your Audi dealership. How is everything with the car?” It’s fine to email customers surveys after service visits to assess their satisfaction, but train service personnel to make that personal call, too. It’s one more way to deliver an exceptional service experience.