How to Skyrocket CSI through Genuine Customer Communication

A great customer experience is everything.

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Before today’s technology-based tools, many dealerships relied on greeters to help increase CSI during the service check-in process. Acting as a buffer between customers and advisors, their job was to do more than to simply greet visitors—they were there to help ensure every customer felt valued until an advisor had a chance to come over to them. The point is: never underestimate the power of a simple “hello!”

Welcome boards, mobile tablets, and texting tools are all designed to improve the customer experience through better communication in the service lane. However, these solutions were not designed to replace authentic and personalized interactions.

Building Lasting Connections with Meaningful Communication

You Had Me at “Hello”

When onboarding a new service employee, you may not think about teaching communication skills. But as you explain your processes and train them how to use the various technologies, it’s important to demonstrate the importance of communication every step of the way.

There are specific ways to communicate that make customers feel valued, minimize frustration, and help boost CSI. Here are a few basics.

1) Say Hello. Have you ever been seated at a restaurant table only to have waiters and waitresses walk by you without acknowledging you’re there? When your customers drive into your service lane, it’s important that their presence is immediately acknowledged. It’s okay to acknowledge a customer even if you’re with another customer. If your service lane is so busy that your employees don’t even have time to say hello, then something is seriously wrong. A customer should always be acknowledged immediately and receive personal attention within five minutes.

2) Pay Attention to Your Body Language. Stand straight. Smile. Shake your customers’ hands and look them in the eye. When you greet your customer, do it as though you’re welcoming them into your home, which in essence you are. Your customers are your guests. When your customer is talking, give them your full attention. If you’re looking around, fidgeting, or trying to rush the process, your customers will pick up these cues and it affects the level of their experience.

3) Ask and Listen. Your RO indicates that a customer came in for an oil change. Validate this with the customer, but don’t forget to ask follow-up questions. “I see you’ve brought in your car today for an oil change. Are you having any other issues or is everything running smoothly? Last time you were here, we recommended a new air filter. Would you like us to take care of that today?”

When your customer replies, listen to what they say. You may be eager to try to upsell them, and you may have a go-to word track for this scenario. That’s okay, but if you aren’t having a real conversation, everything you say sounds rehearsed and the customer will notice.

4) Observe. Observation requires a person to be in the moment and is one of the more challenging aspects of communication. Of course, observe the vehicle closely when you do your vehicle inspection. Also observe the customer and pay attention to their body language. Are they stressed or do they seem in a hurry to get out of there? If so, you may have to explain why each step of the check-in process is to their benefit.

If the customer voices or shows concern, don’t take it personally. Acknowledge them and be sympathetic. If a customer likes to talk, try to give them a few extra minutes of your time. It makes a big difference in how they perceive your store’s service.

5) Record. It’s important to take the time to write notes for each customer conversation during or immediately after your conversation. There’s no way you’ll remember a special request after you check in ten more customers. If you forget a special request, the customer will only remember that it was forgotten.

6) Reference. The next time you talk to a customer, whether later that day on the phone or the next time they come into the shop, reference something the customer said in a previous conversation. This lets them know you were listening, and what they said was important enough that you remembered it.

Set the Standard on Strong Communication

The best way to teach communication skills is by example. Leaders should not only explain the process and technology, but also how to communicate with the customer. Then, let your team observe and reiterate everything you did: “Did you notice that I looked her in the eye? Did you remember what she said when I asked her about her kids?” As your staff masters the art of meaningful communication, provide a supportive environment by watching, complimenting, and offer positive critique.

Process and technology are both important contributors to service department success, but their powers are magnified when you add the effects of positive communication. For more information on how to build relationships and leave a lasting impression that brings customers back, contact us today.

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