Poor customer service hits dealer profitability

The average UK car dealership loses up to £70,000 (approximately $115,000) per year based on poor customer service reports MotorTrader.com. It is specifically the after-sales services that affect profitability. Research conducted by Shell Lubricants, based on 180,000 customer-service surveys, found the following:

•           47% of customers were unhappy with service efficiency.

•           24.6 % were unhappy with condition of their car.

•           17% were unhappy with the value for money of their automobile.

•           11.4% were unhappy with the helpfulness of staff.

Cars are expensive, durable machines, but unexpected fix-ups and problems can arise long after the car has been purchased, and it is only natural that the customer have expectations from the dealer that sold the automobile. Fortunately, in the hospitality industry, service recovery and methods to retain guests can be handled effectively long before a guest “drives off the lot.”

While working in a popular Chicago restaurant, I knew a GM who stressed that for every bad guest experience, ten other people will hear about it. However, the recent proliferation of social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Yelp) now make the accessibility of negative comments instantaneous and expansive, leaving the GM’s old stat of ten people hearing about poor service exponentially higher. When criticism is easily accessible, it is vital service recovery be proactive.

To combat the dissatisfaction among UK customers, Peak Software launched LoyaltyDriver, a tool to help dealers address customer needs faster. The program sends an automated message after a customer picks up his car, and the system logs the outcome of the call and sends it to the manager. Hotel and restaurant operators can surely set up an online system, but gauging satisfaction is far easier and can be done in person, it just has to be proactive. Establishing that staff are always accessible and willing to listen and follow through on any complaint efficiently is a valuable method in keeping guests happy. Simple and seemingly obvious tactics like visiting tables and listening to feedback, or placing courtesy calls to rooms to learn how to enhance a stay, are methods to learning how to keep customers pleased. Keep in mind, most complaints will be location-specific problems that are fixable. It is necessary to listen and take charge of any dissatisfaction (no matter how trivial) in a swift manner as that will leave the lasting positive impression on the guest. In hospitality, much like in car dealerships, customers will not always feel 100% satisfied with service, but addressing any dissatisfaction swiftly and proactively are simple methods to protect your brand and ensure guest loyalty.

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