Customer service do's and don'ts every mechanic should know
Customer service can be tricky. Some mechanics are just naturally inclined to doing and saying the right things to customers, and sometimes even extremely skilled technicians can't seem to make their clients smile no matter what they do.
In order to help keep you from becoming one of those unfortunate few in the latter category, we've put together this handy list of do's and don'ts that can help strengthen your shop's reputation with every interaction.
Customer service do's and don'ts for auto mechanics
- Do know what you're talking about. This might seem like a no-brainer, but service writers who haven't spent much time getting their hands dirty might need to study up in order to inspire confidence in clients.
- Don't make assumptions about the repair. When a mechanic gets incomplete information from a customer and misdiagnoses the root cause of the issue, it can lead to unresolved concerns, overlong stays in the repair bay, and high rates of customer dissatisfaction.
- Do give customers simple but adequate explanations of the necessary repair. It might be tricky to hit the sweet spot between way-too-technical and so-simple-it's-patronizing, but it's usually helpful to try. Visual aids can help -- some garages keep a small bin of worn or failed parts to show clients what the recommended repair can help them avoid.
- Don't only address the customer's primary complaint. There's almost always time to give a quick glance over some common areas of wear and tear, like wheel mounts or CV boots, or to check routine maintenance parts like filters, brake pads, rotors and drums to see where they are in their life cycle. On that subject, though …
- Don't make billable repairs without customer consent. Just because you know it needs to be done doesn't mean the customer is ready to pay for it. Make sure to contact the vehicle owner if you notice something other than their stated issue that might need fixing.
- Do, however, perform little pleasant-surprise freebies when appropriate. Topping off fluids, optimizing tire pressure, rounding down on the charge for labor and other small touches can be the tipping point that turns a one-off customer into a lifetime loyalist.
- Do shop around for parts. A mechanic or parts manager who takes the extra few minutes to check multiple parts sources for the best deal will often be the central factor differentiating between a popular repair shop from one with empty service bays.
- Do offer discounts for basic services. There are dozens of shops in town that change oil, balance wheels and do the other routine stuff. Offering $5 or $10 maintenance coupons to customers who come in for repairs can strengthen your reputation as a friendly shop and still net you a profit, especially if it drives repeat business.
- Don't fail to communicate. This is a big one. Some mechanics get tunnel vision once the vehicle is up on the lift and forget that there's someone out there worrying themselves sick about the car they rely on. Whether you're a mechanic, service writer or shop manager, try and make sure your customers aren't left hanging.
It's true that not every interaction will go as smoothly as we'd like it to, but these tips can help increase your number of satisfied customers. After all, without customers, who would repair shops service?
"Running an Auto Repair Shop, or Why Consumers Don't Trust Auto Mechanics," Squidoo, General Car Repair, 2013.