A recent article in Wards Auto shares results from a study of 6,200 dealerships conducted by analytics company Marchex. According to the survey, dealerships who use active listening techniques and build rapport with customers on the initial calls are the top-performing 25 percent of dealerships in the study.

These top performers did the following things when communicating with customers: They requested the caller’s name 163% more than bottom performers; provided their direct contact information 40% more; used the words “please” and “thank you” 99% of the time; and laughed on half of the calls, which “kept the calls positive and relaxed the caller.

How effective do you think adopting these traits and practices in your BDC or service department would be, rather than the generic assembly-line processes that some dealerships employ in the service drive?

If you treat ALL service customers in the same manner that these top-performing dealers treat their sales customers, you just might achieve similar results. And, when it comes to warranty and recall customers, they are much more likely to call the dealership with a heightened sense of anxiety. By relaying more understanding and empathy, you’ll win over new service customers. You can also increase service revenue and build a relationship that extends past the service drive and into the sales department.

Recall customers tend to differ from regular service customers, and it helps to ensure excellent communication skills when interacting with them. Sales processes have changed in the last decade with the advent of new technology and enlightened and informed customers. However, service processes have primarily remained the same. Check them in, perform an MPI, contact the customer with any recommended service, complete the work, and then send them on their way.  It’s time to upgrade that approach

Perhaps a little empathy, understanding, and following the lead of these top-performing dealerships can elevate service revenue to the next level and win sales indirectly. Why wouldn’t you want to treat your service customers with the same politeness, gratitude, and appreciation?

Winning customers is not solely a feat of the sales department. Dealerships have many more opportunities to accomplish that same goal in the service department than they will ever have in the sales department.

Take a look at your service department. Is it time to up your communication and listening skills and be more empathetic with your customers? Your customers will not only pay you a visit, but they will return for future visits.

Author: Dan Beres

Dan Beres oversees Enterprise Services for Recall Masters, which includes OEM and strategic partnerships. Dan has 20 years of experience selling and managing technology/marketing solutions in the auto industry. Dan held position of Executive Vice President and 7-Year Managing Partner of MyCustomerData in Aliso Viejo, CA. He was a 4-year Director of Sales for DMEautomotive in Florida. Also, the 8th employee of Tech/Telecom start up Who’sCalling in Kirkland WA. He possesses expertise in Sales Leadership, Management, & Sales Process, and is experienced in marketing and CRM execution, Administration and Operations. Dan has developed and nurtured corporate relationships with OEMs and Auto Groups such as BMW, MINI, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and FCA (Fiat Chrysler), AutoNation, Sonic, Penske, Asbury and Van Tuyl. Dan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Eastern Illinois University, 1992 and sits on the Board of Directors for Providence Speech and Hearing Center, a nonprofit organization providing services to the speech and hearing impaired of Orange County, California.

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