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Unlock the mystery of customer service

by Elvis Hoffpauir, MACS president and COO
We’re all consumers and we all understand the satisfaction, even the pleasure, of an optional purchase – a new car for instance, and many other things that we need or just want. And since we are all consumers, we can understand the difference our customers feel between the initial pleasure of acquiring durable goods and their more negative feelings when those durable goods fail and need fixing.
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A shop owner friend recently reminded me of this fact of life. “Considering the mind-set of our customers coming in, we have to overcome a lot to deliver even a palatable experience for them, much less a pleasant or pleasurable one. To begin with, the customer has had to juggle their personal schedule, and maybe those of other members of their family, because they don’t have the use of their vehicle. Suddenly they face an unexpected, unbudgeted expense, without knowing how much that might be.”
 
“Finally, before the customer even engages the initial service experience, they are concerned about whether they will be treated fairly, having heard tales of unscrupulous technicians and shops, or maybe having recently seen one of those local or national television stings that the media likes to trot out with some regularity.”
 
This shop owner has a good point, and I began thinking about how best to improve the customer’s experience. I know some of our members provide loaner cars, and that would help address the customer’s immediate transportation needs. To help address the typical customer’s other concerns I found what might seem to be an unlikely resource – the Federal Trade Commission.
 
On its website http://www.ftc.gov/ there is an article titled “Auto Repair Basics.” Offered to provide guidance to the consumer, the article addresses such things as “How to Choose a Repair Shop,” “How to Choose a Technician,” and “Repair Charges: Unlocking the Mystery.” The information provided is thorough, accurate, and likely beneficial to the consumer who chooses to heed it.
 
It strikes me that it is also potentially beneficial information for the shop owner. The theme of the guidance provided by the FTC is for the consumer to look for transparency in all phases of the automotive service experience. By “reverse engineering” the guidance provided by the FTC, a shop owner could identify and adopt (even advertise) those tenets of transparency into his overall operation.
 
Providing relevant information to the customer up front about the shop’s policies, procedures and processes could go a long way toward decreasing their anxiety about the transaction and building their faith in the service shop’s fairness and professionalism.
 
While it’s unlikely that a customer’s repair experience will ever be as satisfying or pleasurable as their new car purchase was, efforts to remove uncertainty from the transaction and instill confidence in it will likely pay dividends in happier and repeat customers.
If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be, http://bit.ly/10zvMYg for more information.
You can E-mail us at macsworldwide@macsw.org . To locate a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Click here to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.
The 35th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Meet me at MACS Make Connections that Matter, February 5-7, 2015 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.

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