You know that old saying, first impressions last a life time. This is especially true in the automotive aftermarket business, where we are already fighting to contradict the stereotype that auto repair shops are out to scam you. In this industry, a good amount of first impressions happen over the phone, so the importance of a friendly, helpful and professional phone presence is vital!
Several times we’ve had our clients call us and ask why they don’t have as many cars in their bays as they used to, even though they can see that their automotive website and Internet marketing is working and getting a lot of traffic. When this is the case, we take a look at their Autoshop Phone Tracker with them and start listening to some of their recorded phone calls. What we find is that the phone is ringing, the customer interest is there, but poor phone etiquette is driving them away!
As an automotive business, you have to be prepared to answer your phone the proper way every time. We all get busy, but it’s important to remember that each and every customer is unique and valuable. Answering the phone with a grunted ‘hello,’ or answering while you’re in the shop and the noise is crazy, doesn’t give customers the best first impression. So we’ve come up with a good list of 10 simple rules to follow to help you take advantage of every phone call opportunity.
10 Rules for Answering the Phone at an Automotive Shop
1. Use a scripted greeting.
Using a scripted greeting when answering the phone at your auto repair, transmission or collision shop will ensure consistency and professionalism, no matter which of your employees answers the phone. For example: “Thank you for calling Autoshop Solutions, this is Erin, how may I help you?”
2. ALWAYS talk with a pleasant tone.
No matter how busy you are, or how stressful your day has been, it’s vital that you always talk with a pleasant, friendly tone. Your body language can affect the tone of your voice. If you smile when you’re answering the phone, the customer can “hear” the smile on the other end. I know that may sound crazy, but test it out!
3. Always ask who you are speaking with.
Then use their name when speaking to them. This builds a connection with your customer, and it shows you are listening and engaged. It will also help you remember them when they bring their car in.
4. Use those manners your Momma taught you.
“Please” and “thank you” go a long way, but don’t forget about “yes sir” or “no sir” as well. Not only are you showing respect, but you should get respect in return. This can also help calm down a very unhappy customer, as they usually appreciate respect.
5. Don’t interrupt!
Even if the customer on the other end is wrong and is complaining or yelling you have to wait. We are all guilty of it, I know I am, but we have to let them talk. They called you to get their point across, and they want someone to hear them out and listen to their grievances. Respect this, and keep calm.
6. Answer the phone in a timely manner.
And always have an answering machine to catch the calls you miss when you’re closed or too busy. No one likes to call a business where the phone just keeps ringing and ringing – this is a bad first impression! You risk missing the potential customer because they hang up thinking they have the wrong number, they think you’re too busy for them, or they think you aren’t professional enough to have properly working phones.
7. Don’t just say “they aren’t here” and hang up.
You need to remember that you are here to help your customers. If someone calls your shop and the person they are looking for isn’t available, offer to take a message. Get their name, phone number and reason for the call and then make sure you pass along the message to the right person. It’s all part of building trust with your customers.
8. Avoid eating on the phone.
Keep the eating and gum chewing for times you aren’t answering phone calls. No one wants to hear that.
9. Minimize hold times.
If you have to put your customer on hold, ask them if it is ok first, and then keep the hold time to a minimum. If it is taking longer than expected, check back with your customer and ensure them you haven’t forgotten about them.
10. Wrap the call up neatly.
When your call is completed make sure you have answered all their questions and helped your customer with what was needed. If you took a message, repeat their name and number back so they know you wrote everything down. If you need to consult with someone else and call them back, set a time expectation so they know you are working for them. Overall you want them to feel well taken care of!
Answering the phone is a basic customer service that should never be overlooked. In the automotive industry, your phone etiquette is very important in gaining and retaining customers, and it can make or break your business! Talk to your service advisors, and anyone who may be answering the phones at your shop to make sure you are all on the same page and providing your customers with the amazing service that they expect. You’ll be surprised at the new business you can obtain!
(PSSSST…not sure how your employees are doing answering the phone? Wondering how you can increase your sales? Take a look at the Autoshop Phone Tracker, a great tool that tracks and records phone calls that come from your automotive website. You can review recorded phone calls and give your service advisors pointers on how they can provide better customer service AND increase sales over the phone!)
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