As a dealer management company, your customers come to you for quality service, competitive pricing, and convenience. What is the most important thing you can do to improve relationships with your customers? The answer is as obvious as it is overlooked: improve customer service. No matter how great your product is or how talented your staff is, one of the things that customers are most likely to remember is the direct interaction they have with your company.
Bottom line, your customer service team is often the face of your company, and customers’ experiences will be defined by the skill and quality of the support they receive.
A strong company will already have great customer relationships. But a smart company will always be asking “What is good customer service?”. Good customer service centers around carefully listening and attending to your customers’ needs and desires. If you are not constantly on the lookout for opportunities to improve your customer service, then your relationships will stagnate.
What are the three most important skills your customer service team members can have?
1. Great Training
So, you’ve hired a great customer service rep at your dealer management company. Now how do you turn them into a lean, friendly, ticket-answering machine? For anyone in customer service it’s going to take a long time to get up to speed. Product knowledge isn’t something you can absorb overnight. As long as you have a hard-working, empathetic new hire, all you need to do is take the time to show them.
According to a UserVoice blog, initial training can be broken down into five steps:
- Orientation: Do an initial walk-through, then a deeper dive after they’ve had time to absorb it and play with your product. More than one perspective can be good as well; try having them sit in on a sales call or two as well.
- Shadowing: Once your hire understands what they’re looking at, walk them through your day-to-day process and respond to some messages in front of them. There’s nothing like watching someone in action as a basis for what you’ll be doing. After a certain point this can get tedious for both parties, so consider also having your new hire go through recordings of previous customer interactions.
- Getting Their Feet Wet: Time for your new hire to get their hands dirty. Start assigning them tickets, but have them draft their responses and run them by you. This way they can get rolling without the fear that they’re going to write something horribly wrong. If you want to start even more gradually, try having them write some documentation.
- Testing the Water: After you feel that your new hire’s drafted responses are hitting the right notes, it’s time to toss them in. Let them start responding to tickets on their own. Review them at the end of the day and give notes, but make sure to be encouraging – this is a stressful time for your new hire, and you want to get their momentum going…not shoot them down.
- No Lifeguard: It’s easy for a new hire to develop dependency on the one who trained them. Don’t let this happen; take a day off or just stop responding to their requests and force them to work things out on their own. It’s tough love, but this will help them realize that they’re fully capable of working on their own.
And remember to train, train, train, and re-train often — good customer service is a continuous learning process.
Some customers will be irate. Others will be full of questions. And others will just be chatty. Good customer service reps must know how to handle all of them and provide the same level of service every time. Good reps stay cheerful no matter what and never end a conversation without confirming the customer is satisfied.
Two great ways to demonstrate empathy include:
- Ask reps to try to identify a common ground–like shared interests–with the people they help. Having this point of understanding makes conflict easier to overcome by humanizing the relationship, and it endears customers to your rep (and ultimately your company).
- Practice active listening so your customers feel heard. Clarify and rephrase what the customers say to ensure you understand them. Empathize with and reflect their feelings by saying things like, “That must have upset you” or “I can see why you feel slighted.”
Numerous studies have shown that a dissatisfied employee is unlikely to provide good customer service or pass vital customer feedback up the chain. If employees aren’t engaged with their jobs, they probably are not representing your organization well. And this can poison your customer relationships–and the overall customer experience.
In fact, employee disengagement is a bigger problem than most employers realize. One Gallup study found that 70% of American workers are either not engaged or actively disengaged with their jobs. Disengagement is a complex issue and can stem from many sources, such as an unclear career path, poor professional relationships or an unpleasant work environment.
It’s up to you to address these problems and provide employees with the morale and motivation they need to offer customers the best experience. Even though employee engagement is complex and has many factors, get a head start on keeping employees happy by asking them how they feel in ongoing internal surveys. Because when you collect employee feedback that will direct improvements internally, your organization will shine on the outside. Improved employee satisfaction and customer service? It’s a win-win. And you’ll need a powerful dealer management solution to track these customer interactions at every touch point.
Velosio Dealer Management Solution
The world’s first cloud DMS (dealer management solution), our heavy equipment management software is built on NetSuite’s state-of-the-art ERP platform and leverages the deep industry-specific functionality of Advectus, based on the experience of working with hundreds of clients around the world.
The Velosio dealer management solution provides you:
A Single, Cloud-based Database Delivers a 360° View of Your Clients so that your trained, empathetic, and engaged customer service reps can have, at their fingertips:
Automate and streamline business processes across the enterprise, including Sales, Service, Parts, Financial Management, Reporting, CRM, and Distribution.
- Service Menus
- Service Scheduling /Technician Dispatching
Build stronger, more profitable relationships with your clients by improving the customer experience
- Service CRM
- Customer Loyalty Program
- Pre-paid Maintenance Capabilities
Have access to business-critical information at any time, from any place, on any device.
- Mobile Service Inspection Tool
- On-line Scheduling
Instant access to real-time customer information gives you a comprehensive view of your clients, enabling you to map the most effective way to keep your customers satisfied, and coming back for service. Immediate access to client survey results, service history, last and next contact, and client value provides the tools you need to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Interested in learning if a cloud DMS is for you? Check out our webcast here. For more about Velosio’s Dealer Management solution, click here.
NetSuite Practice Manager, Velosio
Mike Mahannah began his career 20 years ago in systems administration, and moved on from there to consulting, professional services and sales engineering management, business analysis and operations. In his role as NetSuite Practice Manager for Velosio (formerly Socius), Mike is passionate about the value Saas based platforms like Netsuite can bring to organizations.
Mike is based in Ohio, and received his BA from Arizona State University, and his MBA from Xavier University.