A little help: what is the customer perspective?

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A big part of my role as a Service Advisor for a Mercedes-Benz dealership is customer satisfaction. Customers who have been in for a routine service (i.e. oil and filter change, etc, as opposed to any repairs) each get sent an email survey asking "on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely would you be to recommend this dealership to family and friends?". I am then judged directly on the scores my customers give me.

So my question to you is, what sorts of things would you be thinking about when you answered that question? What would you expect of a Service Advisor, and the service in general, at a main dealer, when taking your car in for its annual service? What would they have to do to score a 9 or a 10? And what simple things could they do that would scupper their chances?

I'd be very interested in and grateful for your thoughts.
 

Neil H

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Honesty is #1. We have all been lied to by dealerships in the past and sometimes we are treated like idiots. I know that you will be asked to recommend work that does not need to be done in your job, but how you choose to communicate it is up to you.
Just think, if this was my mother/father/brother/sister, what would I recommend. If it is good enough advice for your family, it os good enough for your customers.

Not that Ive mentioned this (much), but lying about wheels being buckled when they are blatantly not is not a good idea, especially if you are sweating like a cornered prom queen while saying the words. I will never trust a Merc dealer again.
 

Ductman

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I agree with that. Honesty is paramount. I remember one time when I took my CLK in for a service and, coincidentally had filled the washer bottle to the brim that very morning, only because the near empty container was rolling around in the boot, so I wanted to empty and throw it away.
When picking the car up later, I noticed the usual charge for washer fluid on the invoice, so asked him to take it off as I knew they couldn't have filled it any further. Well, he squirmed and put forward all manner of ridiculous reasons why they had topped it up, eventually telling me, when he could see I wasn't backing down, that a fresh container had been put on my passenger seat for future use. Again I knew it hadn't because I walked past the car on the way in and looked inside, but said nothing at that point.
He then said the car was still being cleaned (it wasn't) so he would go and get it and check the container was inside. He disappeared out the back through the stores and 3 minutes later, I spotted him sneaking across to where my car was parked, whilst obviously holding something under his jacket!
I returned to the desk to await him coming back through the door a couple of minutes later, triumphantly holding a container of washer fluid in one hand and my keys in the other. I asked where the container had been, to be told..........."where I said it was, on the passenger seat."
At this point, I told him I had looked in my car where it had been parked when I came in to the showroom and there was nothing on any of the seats. Furthermore, I had just seen him furtively sneaking over to it holding this container under his jacket!
You can imagine his expression, having been found out and that is why I too no longer trust main dealers.
I'm sure you're a very nice chap however. :)
 

Neil H

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"Went to Kwik Fit to have the pirelli replaced. They took the wheel off and put it on the machine, still in balance and no issues at all, certainly not buckled. Also said it didn't seem the wheel had been removed so it seems Mercedes had just basically made it up to try and sell a £600 alloy to me. So much for loyalty to good customers."

This is the sort of feedback you dont want on a 'fans' forum. If one of my employees pulled this on a client, their feet wouldnt touch the ground. This is what we expect as standard from main dealers, dont be another one. Incidentally, score of 1 on my feedback. Sent it 9 days ago, not heard a peep and I have £110k worth of car from the same dealer. Thats customer service??
 
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s5tuart

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Not sure of your influence within the dealership, but before you can perform to your personal best you must believe in what the service guys/gals can do. Perhaps you can feed back any existing results to them and ask how THEY think it can be improved. Address things that went wrong; don't be scared to find out why.

You will never please all the people all the time, but as Neil H says, honesty is the only way to gain the respect of your customers and your co-workers. Usually if you tell someone any bad news truthfully they will appreciate the effort you have made. Try to hide anything and they WILL eventually find out and fry you for it!

During my short time in the Aftersales Manager role, I had 3 "golden rules".

1. Whilst taking a booking, (or at least immediately after you book in any work), check the records for what has been done previously and any recommendations you made at the time. That will give you the opportunity to re-present your recommendations and make the whole experience personal to the owner.

2. I personally explained each and every invoice. That always gives the opportunity to upsell for the next visit and also gives the customer confidence that the jobs have actually been done.

3. I made sure I phoned each and every customer around an hour after their visit, to confirm everything had been done to their satisfaction. The personal touch goes a long way and stops any bad experiences festering.
 

Rory

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What would they have to do to score a 9 or a 10?

The problem you've got is that, unless you explain it to them and then there's always the chance the customer won't take it very well, the public doesn't understand how these surveys work.

On a scale of 1-10 most people would start in the middle and mark 5 or 6 if it was OK, and lower if it wasn't.

As you know, what the manufacturers expect is that customer will start at 10 and then only mark down if there was some specific problem.

In my view these things are designed to be a stick to beat dealers with. I mean, how absolutely exceptional can a service be?
 
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s5tuart

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. I mean, how absolutely exceptional can a service be?

Unfortunately it seems as though, in many cases, an exceptional service is one where everything that needs to be done is completed properly and within the allotted time!
 
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Ductman

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"Went to Kwik Fit to have the pirelli replaced. They took the wheel off and put it on the machine, still in balance and no issues at all, certainly not buckled. Also said it didn't seem the wheel had been removed so it seems Mercedes had just basically made it up to try and sell a £600 alloy to me. So much for loyalty to good customers."

This is the sort of feedback you dont want on a 'fans' forum. If one of my employees pulled this on a client, their feet wouldnt touch the ground. This is what we expect as standard from main dealers, dont be another one. Incidentally, score of 1 on my feedback. Sent it 9 days ago, not heard a peep and I have £110k worth of car from the same dealer. Thats customer service??

In my case, it was a very low value item, but was the principle of the matter that annoyed me. I subsequently tried the same tactic, deliberately this time, with another main dealer. They also tried to charge me but, to his credit, the chap didn't try to argue and immediately apologised for the 'error'.
I think the message it gives is never, ever, try to bulls**t a customer. If something like this does happen and is picked up by the customer, immediately put down the shovel and step back from the hole you may be about to dig for yourself. ;)
As said, talking to the customer shortly afterwards can go a long way to establishing a good working relationship and building trust.
 

Dave19

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In February this year, I was in the Outer Hebrides when my car went into “limp mode”. I was able to crawl 200 miles to Perth and asked if MB could help. Although it was 1.45pm, I was told that all the technicians were at lunch and someone would have a look at this as soon as possible. The cost would be £120 for the first hour.

After waiting an hour and a half with no technicians available, I called it a day and “limped” home.

Best decision I ever made as I managed to get to Merparts at Port Glasgow (Indies) and got problem sorted. First class service from this company.

I am now committed to avoiding Mercedes dealerships from now on.
 

Gkinghorn

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1. How fit the girls are on reception
2. General courtesy
3. Run down each item and explain what it is ..anything unexpected you should have called me about to discuss ahead of time
4. Vacuum the car out
5. Wash it...
6. Try your best to cut my costs .... Explain why you gave me 10% discount :D
7. Always give me a discount
8. Dont charge for something unless you have to...charging money to put it on Star if nothing is found should be free.
9. How fit the girls are on reception ..did I mention that?


==========================
 

Naraic

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This was always going to be an interesting thread...it hasn't failed to achieve that.
 
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G
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Thanks for all comments so far. Most of this stuff is what I/we do anyway (calling before doing additional work, alerting customers to any changes to what was previously agreed).

The call an hour later is a good idea -- that way I can find out if they weren't happy with anything, because asking them while they're still in the dealership is limited as they haven't seen/driven the car yet.

Another thing I would like to start doing is adding a line to each invoice detailing any work that we carried out FOC ('can you just check' type things) and also any discount I've been able to give.
 

Lazzzydog

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I would suggest taking a day at Mercedes in Shrewsbury and watching Mathew at work. They are main dealers and therefore way overpriced but he is a model of honesty, integrity and efficiency.
I have no connection to either the garage or this young gentleman, just posting my findings.
I have also found that some of the staff at Ayr MB couldn't lie straight in bed but that's another story.
 

st4

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A plus one for merparts. Really rate those guys.

Dealers will never compete with them on price or expertise IMHO.

What I would say about MB dealers is that they resolve issues they've crested quickly in my experience of them.
 

The Pan Man

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Most of this stuff is what I/we do anyway (calling before doing additional work, alerting customers to any changes to what was previously agreed).

You need to do that legally !!! otherwise it's theft plain and simple or breach of verbal contract.

Now I fully agree with most of the replies but my gripe has not been mentioned and it's attitude. You work in a garage FFS, get over yourselves. Staff training in customer care would be a start and speaking from very recent experience in my area BMW have you beaten hands down. Now along with loads of others on here (WE) have been driving MB cars for a great number of years we are not idiots, so Please Please do not treat us as such. You will be found out and it will come back and bite you. If you would like me to PM you some examples just ask.
 

grober

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Be honest, be technically literate, know how your own service system works and its internal lines of communication [ formal and informal] . Don't bull****-you will be found out. If you don't know something- admit it- and then find out for the customer ASAP. Don't be overly obsequious to customers- calling them sir all the time won't compensate for overcharging them--- its also embarrassing for both parties. Try to distinguish between customers who are paying for the servicing their of own vehicle from their own money and those that are merely dropping off that company car for "whatever" - there may be a big difference in their attitude. While you are the dealer employee- you are in effect the customers " advocate in court" In a way its your job to "represent the customers interests" in the system within the remit of the job. If you genuinely try to help them they will be grateful. Come across as a mere cypher for a money grabbing organisation expect to be despised. A customer complains about the high cost of oil in his routine service. 1. You reply--- that's the standard charge sir there's nothing I can do. OR 2. You say some of our customers supply their own oil and provided it comes in branded sealed containers and meets the correct MB approval there's no problem- Why not do this at the next service?

1 = lost customer

2= retained customer

simples
 

s5tuart

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Thanks for all comments so far. Most of this stuff is what I/we do anyway (calling before doing additional work, alerting customers to any changes to what was previously agreed).

The call an hour later is a good idea -- that way I can find out if they weren't happy with anything, because asking them while they're still in the dealership is limited as they haven't seen/driven the car yet.

Another thing I would like to start doing is adding a line to each invoice detailing any work that we carried out FOC ('can you just check' type things) and also any discount I've been able to give.

That is a very good start. Also, it's encouraging to see someone asking for ideas where the vast majority just go to work and pick up their pay.
Really NOT meaning to sound condescending here, but well done! :D
 

MarkyC

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I have found this an interesting thread to read. I am still waiting for delivery of my first Merc and will certainly be looking at the standard of the dealership's overall treatment on the customer service front.

My experience so far has not been great. I left 2 calls regarding the initial sales enquiry. Both times I was promised a callback which did not happen. So I went through a broker and actually saved a fair bit of money. Their loss, or perhaps they are less interested in sales and more in servicing.

One suggestion (and it doesn't just apply to MB) is to review the use of the 'Sir' word. It is impersonal and often meaningless - especially if your intent is to ultimately shaft me. I actually prefer to be called Mr etc etc - it means they have learned my name. (My name is not etc etc, just in case you were wondering)...

I was called Sir during both my telephone requests. Nuff said.
 

drmw

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Check the recommended service items on the MB list. If it suggests (eg) change serpentine belt / gearbox oil / plugs, check if the actual previous history with mileage of car actually demands these items fine & if not, remove them.

Speak to Dick Turpin in stores & explain customers can buy the same oil over the counter at half the price he wants and he's buying in bulk.

Ask the customer if he wants to speak to the technician if something "different" comes up.

Do not treat the customers as a technical illiterate

Listen to the customer if there is a non routine issue (ie a problem) & he seems to know what he's talking about & take note - he sometimes can save a lot of diagnostic time.

Do not charge for anything less than 15 minutes on Star

Discount on all prices - there's a huge margin built in.

If the dealership allows it, go through the job in detail before asking for a signature and give a fixed price. Nothing worse than going to collect to find all sorts of additional charges. I have always had an up front total fixed price for both A & B services even of the 55.

As previously mentioned several times, be honest.
 

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