Anyone who runs a tire or auto repair shop knows that the phone rings every day with customers who have all sorts of different needs. Some are looking for tires while others need more information about about potential auto repairs or the kind of help the shop can provide in an emergency situation. There are customers who call for status updates, to set appointments for oil changes, to try and educate themselves regarding certain choices they should make for their vehicle, and to learn more about pricing structures and warranty information. While customers throughout the day will call with all sorts of different needs, one thing they will all have in common is the fact that each time they call, they will have questions. More importantly, how those questions are responded to will dictate whether that phone call leads to a dead end or a lifetime customer.
First it is important to remember that in the domain of auto repair, the shop has all the experts and therefore, should have all the answers. Customers on the other hand, will have varying degrees of knowledge with a great percentage of them knowing little or nothing about auto repair at all. For these customers especially, calling out for help is like taking a leap of faith, and it is very easy to make them feel stupid or uncomfortable by disregarding their lack of knowledge as ridiculousness, stupidity, or sub-standard.
The real truth is that not only is downplaying the validity of a potential customer’s question bad form, but it’s bad for business.
Since it takes a great deal of mental effort for a potential customer to step outside of their comfort zone and communicate their question to a purported expert, it is the job of the CSR to reciprocate that communication by validating the question and providing an unbiased helpful answer. Whether or not a CSR thinks that the person on the other end of the phone should know the answer to the question they asked is irrelevant. Educate rather than commiserate and the outcome will be more fruitful for everyone.
The truth is that whether you own an auto repair shop, manage it, or operate as a service tech or CSR, you would be like a fish out of water with lots of questions if you were suddenly put in the cockpit of a 747 and told to fly it to England. So, if a customer calls asking for prices on tires and they don’t know what you’re talking about when you ask them what size they need, instead of balking at them or swearing under your breath, educate them and do it with a smile. If someone has budget concerns or constraints, don’t tell them what you can’t do for them, tell them what you can do. Be open to communicating billing and warranty policies as well as different options for parts and repair services.
Most of all, be patient! Your customers are the reason that you have money in your pocket and language is the most powerful tool you have in your shop in regards to showing them why your shop is the one they should trust in above all others. Once you start using the language of commitment to show every customer why you should be their champion, they will come back to you every time. Before you know it, your phones will be ringing off the hook with both new prospects and old friends.