Management and leadership

Improve customer service with Andy Savva

Andrew Evans | 26 Jul 2019

Improve customer service with Andy Savva

Andrew Evans | 26 Jul 2019

In this article:

The Garage Inspector gives advice on how companies can improve their customer service levels

Why is customer service so important?

We are the professionals and people are paying for a professional service. In an increasingly competitive and challenging aftermarket arena, I think we should be aiming for customer experience excellence. It should be something everyone is looking to improve each and every day to give you a competitive advantage in your local market.

How can garages improve on first impressions?

Even something as simple as answering the phone in a specific and proper manner is important. What I see regularly is people that work in reception that are answering phone calls or dealing with customers that don’t have the skill set to qualify the call from the beginning to the end.

You call as a customer, and they have to go find out the information, or get someone else to get you a quote, or ring you back. That instils a lack of confidence and trust in the consumer. It’s very important that when we employ people on the front desk that they have the skills to qualify the call from start to finish.

What about the garage environment itself?

There’s a visual expectation when someone walks into the garage. We’re going to deal with consumers who have anxiety – for example their car’s broken down. You never book your car in for a service or an MOT with a smile on your face. It’s what we call a distress sale – if they could get away with not doing it, they wouldn’t.

We’re already trying to break down barriers, and one of the things you see is when you go into a garage and it doesn’t look very clean, the toilet isn’t clean, there’s no soap, it looks messy, the desk looks disorganised… Sometimes we moan internally that we can’t find staff and customers, well what are we doing to improve that? Have we taken a step back and walked into our businesses as customers? Be harsh about it and try and improve things.

How can you improve customer confidence in the work itself?

A lot of independents survive on trust. You save all the parts to show them for transparency, and use any excuse in the book to get vehicle owners into the workshop to show them as well. This adds to the trust.

With digital media now, there are companies that offer us the facility to photograph and video parts and the vehicle. You can speak to the technician directly; how many of these resources are people tapping into? There’s never been more resources, but a lot of independents are still doing what they were doing 20 years ago. We have to embrace this technology.

Can social media play a role in improving customer service?

The internet explosion in the last few years has given us an opportunity to communicate with customers in a way that we’ve never done before. At the same time, on these platforms, you have to accept criticism.

Getting the odd bad review or complaint isn’t a bad thing – it gives you a kick to think if they’ve complained about it, let’s have a look at the process. Sometimes things can get out of hand, so you have to manage that. That’s a new era for many of us!

Richard Ellacott

+44 (0) 20 3771 7242

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