By Jim Facente
As a specialist in mystery shopping and sales training, Creative Sales Solutions (CSS) has mystery shopped thousands of parts, service and rental employees representing every major manufacturer. CSS found, without question, that employees of the most profitable dealers all possess a unique set of customer service and selling skills others did not. Top dealers understand profit, growth and increased sales all occur when employees possess and use these skills.
Here are six secrets top parts and service performers use that not only increase sales but also enhance customer satisfaction.
1. The greeting – At the forefront of CSS training is mystery shopping, where trainers can learn a lot about an employee’s commitment to customer service by how customers are greeted over the telephone.
An average employee simply answers the phone with “Parts” or “This is Bob,” which can create a negative impression with customers. On the other hand, top performers answer the phone by stating their names, the department in which they work and offering to help the caller.
Ending an introduction with “How may I help you?” may not seem like a big deal but it sends a message to the customer, “I understand you have a problem and I want to help you solve it.” Offering to help a customer is magical and it builds instant rapport.
CSS has mystery shopped nearly 2,000 parts, service and rental employees at businesses throughout North America. While some employees state their names, few expand the greeting to include the department in which they work and most fail to offer to help and help is why people call a business.
2. Power Questions – CSS has found that power questions – questions that yield insight into a customer’s problem – are used by top performers to build strong customer relationships.
The first power question asked by top performers is, “May I ask you a couple of questions?” What makes this so powerful is that customers notice sincerity. When employees ask valid questions about a customer’s situation, it shows they are focused on helping to solve it.
When top performers receive the go-ahead to ask additional questions, they follow-up with a series of diagnostic and information-gathering questions to identify and solve the problem. This is how top performers gain instant credibility with customers.
Top performers understand that establishing credibility is a vital first step in developing lasting relationships with customers. They also know that power questions are the building blocks that show customers your business is genuinely interested in their problems.
3. Offering additional parts and repairs – When a customer calls an equipment dealership about a part or to have something repaired, top parts performers always offer additional parts that could be needed for the job and top service performers always ask, “Other than this problem, are you having any other problems with the equipment?” This strengthens your relationship with your customers in three ways:
1. It shows customers that your employees want to be helpful and are concerned about their problem.
2. It prevents the customer from working on the equipment only to discover additional parts are needed to complete the repair.
3. It prevents future problems for the customer.
Many people believe offering additional parts or repairs is just a tactic to increase sales, but don’t let this fog your thinking. Top parts and service performers understand when they focus on solving a customer’s problems they don’t have to worry about increasing sales. Top performers know that increased parts and service sales and increased profits are byproducts of meeting the needs of customers and solving their problems.
4. Offer the service department – CSS has found that a common mistake made by parts employees is not offering the dealership’s service department to perform repairs.
For example, when customers ask whether a repair is difficult to change, top performers are quick to point out the dealership has factory trained technicians and offer the service department. Top performers understand there is an undeniable truth when the dealership’s service department performs the repair and that truth is the parts department is 100 percent guaranteed of making the parts sale when the dealership’s technicians perform the work.
I’m not suggesting that every customer be referred to the service department. However, experienced parts employees can often tell which customers may be unsure about performing repairs. A customer may ask, “Have you ever done this repair before? Is the part difficult to replace?” or “I have a neighbor who said he could help me; do you think we can do this?” This is the type of customer who should be referred to the service department.
When employees offer the service department to customers, it’s a value-added (and potentially profitable) referral. It shows the dealership is interested in more than a parts sale. While top performers don’t deliver “Wow!” experiences every time, they do perform above average all of the time. This is the secret. Anyone can be good or great once in a while. It’s consistency that makes top performers amazing.
5. Asking for the order – CSS found that nearly 84 percent of parts and service employees it has mystery shopped failed to ask for the order.
When they surveyed some of those people and asked them why they didn’t ask for the order, the majority said, “I’m not a salesperson,” or “It’s not my job to ask for the order.” While it’s true that parts and service people are not salespeople, they are problem solvers.
One of the reasons it’s challenging for most parts and service people to ask for the order is because they usually don’t have to. Often, customers are glaring over the counter at employees demanding to know when they are going to get their parts or when their equipment is going to be repaired. When that’s not the case, employees need to ask for the order.
How do top performers ask for the order without sounding like a high-pressure salesperson or fast food clerk? The key to asking for the order is to just ask. I’ve heard time and again people say, “Well, if you need this, just let me know” or “If we can help you, just give us a call.” While sounding helpful, they’re ineffective statements and they’re unlikely to generate a dime’s worth of business.
Below are several ways to ask for the order.
1. Do you plan on coming in and picking up these parts?
2. Would you like me to go ahead and make this an order for you?
3. Would you like me to set these parts aside for you? Parts employees spend a lot of time looking up parts and prices for customers. Top performers finish the job and ask for the order. When you ask for the order in a way that doesn’t appear to be a hard sell, customers will realize you’re trying to help them solve their problems and that’s why they called.
6. Be better than average – It’s not just one extraordinary thing top performers do that separates them from others it’s the ordinary things they do in an extraordinary manner. Not just sometimes or once in a while but all of the time!
Here are 10 ordinary things top performers do in an extraordinary manner.
1. They pay attention to the customer. Top performers concentrate on the customer.
2. They never interrupt the customer. When you interrupt a customer, the customer may get the impression what he or she is saying is not important.
3. They listen when the customer interrupts. When a customer interrupts a top performer, they stop speaking and listen to the customer.
4. They have outstanding manners. Top performers use please and thank you; they’re always polite and helpful. 5. They have a genuine interest. When a customer asks for help, top performers display an attitude that shows their commitment to help.
6. They don’t pass the customer around. Top performers will never tell customers they have the wrong department and hand off customers to someone else.
7. They never blame their employers. Top performers will never use company policy as an excuse to not help a customer.
8. They go the extra mile. Most customers enjoy the special attention they receive from employees who go the extra mile.
9. They show empathy. It’s easier to build a positive relationship with customers when you show empathy to meet their needs or solve their problems.
10. They have a positive attitude. Top performers accept that customers may be frustrated, but they maintain a positive attitude.
The quality of a customer’s experience in dealing with any business should be the goal of each employee. Top performers who elevate their customers and focus on solving their problems gain a wonderful advantage over competitors because they increase customer loyalty, retain more of their existing customers, create strong customer advocates, and earn money for their employers.
How are your employees performing in these six key areas? Let CSS help you find out by taking advantage of the association’s free mystery shopping offer. As a MHEDA member you can have up to three employees mystery shopped at no charge. To take advantage of this FREE offer, call the MHEDA office or CSS at B00-539-1075.