The Importance of a Service Walk-Around (WITH Your Customer)
By Ted Ings, Executive Director
Consistency needs to be a cornerstone of any business if you want to succeed.
In customer service, in the application of company policy, in training methods and sales techniques, consistency is a must.
Without consistency at all levels of your company, you will not be able to outperform the competition, consistently meet the goals of your businesses and the challenges of your industry.
Achieving consistency is not always easy. In the automotive industry, the primary focus of training is typically sales and marketing. But it is also important to pay attention to the often-overlooked service department. In the same way that you spend time training your salespeople on the best follow up and closing techniques, you also need to train your service personnel, and one of the best places to start is the interactive service walk-around.
The interactive service walk-around is not something new or complicated, it is something every dealership should already be doing as it is a vitally important part of the customer's service experience.
This is the first contact with the customer; the meet and greet and it will set the tone for the entire service experience. You have to get it right if you want to get off to a good start and keep your customers coming back for more.
What is the interactive service walk-around?
When a customer buys a vehicle from you, that interaction could remain nothing more than a once-off transaction but that is not what you want. You want to turn that buyer into a customer for life. And one way to build customer loyalty and trust is to offer the best service experience possible.
When a customer feels that are valued by you, they will form a relationship with you based on trust and they will return time and again to your dealership. Not just for services, but to purchase new vehicles.
From the moment the customer calls to make an appointment, your service team is in the spotlight and they need to dazzle the customer every time.
And an integral part of the customer’s service experience is the interactive service walk-around. This is a multi-point inspection process and the beauty is that not only can you see what needs to be done on the vehicle, it also allows the service advisor and the customer to interact.
No more sitting behind a desk or counter in the service department and simply ticking a few boxes on the screen when a customer brings their vehicle in for a service, those days are done. You need to get up from behind the desk and interact with the customer at their vehicle.
Why the interactive service walk-around works
The service walk-around with the customer immediately builds rapport, enabling the service advisor to discuss any concerns with the customer. But just as importantly, the more time the service advisor spends with the customer, the more likely the customer is to say yes to service or repair recommendations.
As the customer walks around the car with the service advisor and they show genuine interest in the customer and their vehicle, the more the customer will trust that service advisor to give them the best advice.
The secret to the success of the interactive service walk-around is that it needs to be consistent. When a customer brings their vehicle to your dealership for a service they should be treated in the same way every time by every member of the service team. Just because you have new employees or a different shift in the service department, does not mean that the customer should get a different experience when they check their vehicle in.
You need to be consistent; this establishes a sense of reliability, builds trust and makes the customer feel comfortable.
The good news is that if you train your service team well, you will quickly get the consistency that you are looking for with the interactive service walk-around but if you don’t train your service personnel, you will never get consistency. Never neglect your interactive service walk-around training.
The key elements of the interactive service walk-around
First impressions make a lasting impression. The first thing you need to do is welcome the customer appropriately to your dealership. Greet them in a friendly manner and tell them that you have been expecting them. Immediately that customer gets the sense that they are valued.
You need to use the pre-work information to talk to the customer through the service process. They gave those instructions or made those comments for a reason. Ask them to elaborate on any issues or concerns that they have regarding their vehicle. This reassures the customer that you are genuinely interested in them and have prepared for the service of their vehicle.
Introduce the Service Maintenance Menu and go through it with the customer, clearly explaining any extras that they may be interested in, and make sure that they understand the details of the service that their vehicle will receive according to its current mileage.
Introduce the Multi-Point Inspection, explain it to the customer and then offer to walk-around the vehicle with them. Many customers are hesitant to ask for any repairs that they did not mention in their initial phone call with the dealership.
The interactive service walk-around is the perfect time for the customer to mention any issues they may have and for the service advisor to make recommendations.
If you have done a proper service walk-around with the customer they will understand why you are recommending a tire rotation, new windshield wiper inserts, wheel alignment or a transmission fluid change. They will know that it is based on genuine, evidence-based concern and that it is not just a generic sales pitch that every customer gets.
Once a customer has experienced the interactive service walk-around, they will expect it every time, so make sure you always deliver. In the same way, the service walk-around builds trusts, not being consistent about it, erodes trust.