Jim Collins, author of the bestsellers “Good to Great” and “Built to Last” once said that the two greatest leaders of the last 100 years were Winston Churchill and Steve Jobs. Those familiar with Steve Jobs and Apple know that his career was a story with many lessons. One of these was his uncompromising conviction that the customer experience was pre-eminent in importance.
Jobs was an innovator and visionary in the technology sector. This central pillar in his cathedral of ideas even has an acronym now: UX, which stands for User eXperience. For auto service operators, this idea translates directly to the notion of exceptional customer experience.
So, what sets apart the best from the rest? The answer goes back to the fundamental difference between appearance and reality. The objective is not only to give the appearance of caring about your customers, but it is to actually care about them, too. When giving the appearance you care, your decisions may result in a win-lose; however, the concept of win-win means that when your customer wins, you win!
For owners and managers, there are some essential steps that help when trying to add value:
- Hiring right
- Onboarding properly
- Training well
- Building a team, which includes getting the right employees in the right positions.
What about onboarding? Just as we have one opportunity to make a first impression, a new employee’s first days on the job will set a tone for his or her expectations in this new home. It is wise to strategically welcome new employees in a manner that creates an emotional connection that builds loyalty and trust.
What does the phrase “value-added” mean? When applied to the production of goods, it is the adding of value at each stage of its production. For example, instead of using the cheapest raw materials, a company would select better materials. If a fluid, then better additives and higher quality base stock would be used. If a chair, a higher quality metal alloy or real leather instead of fake leather would be used. This chair manufacturer might add still further value through personalization, adding a monogram to the design.
In short, each element adds value to the final product. What “value add” can you offer your customers: Higher quality oil option, clean restrooms, Wi-Fi, coffee, dog treats, popcorn, AC? In the service industry, it means going above and beyond, exceeding expectations and separating ourselves from the rest.
We Can All Add Value
Thinking in terms of a value-added service boils down to each person on the team making a commitment of adding value to the customer experience. We can all add value, but do we? Here are just a few ways we can achieve this:
- Smile and have a positive attitude.
- Take pride in your work.
- Be conscientious.
- Commit to learning new skills.
- Assume responsibility.
- Personally care about the task at hand and the customer.
Responsible employees know when they are careless and make mistakes it has an impact on the entire team. In the era of Yelp, one unhappy customer can have a negative ripple effect that hurts the business in real ways.
On the other hand, exceptional customer service also gets rewarded. This is what a typical happy customer sounds like on Yelp: “I have been taking my cars here for years. When you find an honest, professional car care service, you don’t ever give them up.”
Simple things like learning your customers’ and their children’s names helps strengthen bonds. The more kindness and special treatment, the more memorable it will be. Obviously, the real aim is to engage your customers in an authentic way that makes them feel like a real person and not just a number.
The question is, do you care about the customer’s needs? If so, then you understand communication is important. We make a living in the automotive service industry and may assume the things we know are common knowledge when they are not. If we can show customers how to take better care of their vehicles and help save them money, it will only reinforce their trust in us as the professional service provider.
So, what sets apart the best from the rest? We all have the option of being a valuable employee and offering value-added services, but the question is, are we?