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Great communication = Great CSI

By Sam Flores, CPA

I was at a dealership last week to get my car serviced and overheard a customer yelling that she was not pleased with her “complimentary” car wash.  Apparently, the carpets were dirty as if they hadn’t been vacuumed.  The porter explained that they must have gotten dirty as the car was brought up.  “Where are the paper mats?”, she asked.

Many dealers appear to be cutting back on simple things like the paper mats, in hopes the customers will not notice – but they do.  The problem is that the dealer is not making money on this complimentary wash.   What should be a good gesture in the name of good customer service can become a potential customer complaint.

Every dealership is faced with getting costs under control while still providing the best possible customer care.  Fortunately, there are ways for dealers to provide better service without spending a dime.  Speaking from experience, sometimes its simple communication that will increase my satisfaction with service.  For example, I often find it annoying that I must call my service department to check if my car is ready.  They say they will “call when ready” but they never do.  It costs so little of a service advisor’s time to make a brief call to provide a status update and keep a happy customer through consistent communication.

Clear and concise communication costs nothing.  Tell your customer exactly what to expect such as “we provide free car washes – exterior only” and the benefit is clear.  The customer will then know not to expect the vacuuming and love the car wash they have received.

Great customer service starts with a clear communication to the customer of what they can expect, and then deliver. Nothing more… but nothing less.

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