Customer care can pay dividends

Improve retention rates by putting yourself in the role of the customer

Published:  26 November, 2013

By Andy Vickery

Often, when I've talked to garage owners, I've asked them, "What emotions do you think go through the mind of your customers before they buy from you, during the buying process and after they've bought from you?" This baffles many business owners because they've never really thought in those terms before. The assumption is the customer wants something, they find someone who sells it and they go buy from them. But we human beings are strange and complex in the ways we make decisions and this is why I ask the question about buying emotions - it makes the business owner think a little more about their customers.

This particular phase of marketing is to do with how you work with customers during the 'transaction' phase of doing business. You've got the customer to come to you, which is great - the first part of your marketing is working well but now you have to live up to or, ideally, exceed their expectations. Customers will always be thinking, assessing and judging you, it's just human nature. Unfortunately, this is the stage where a lot of damage can be done that renders all other marketing useless.

As mentioned, my car needed a service so, how did I feel? First of all, there was apprehension and a certain amount of anxiety. Having driven past numerous garages locally, I still didn't feel confident about who to use. I asked some friends and they recommended a local garage. This helped me feel confident with my decision. I then called the garage to book the car in. I felt a little apprehension here because not having the car for a day would be inconvenient and I didn't know if they offered a pick-up and delivery service or a courtesy car. That was quelled when the person on the other end of the phone, who was clearly used to indecisive customers, led me through a very easy process, asking what was convenient for me and offering a courtesy car without me having to ask. This decision alone solved the problem of the school pickup on the day of the service, so there was a certain amount of relief and satisfaction with this part of the process alone.

Dropping the car off was easy enough and when the inevitable call came through to say that they had found something else that needed doing I didn't mind as it was a relatively small, yet safety critical, part which they explained well.

Having done such a great job and having been really nice people to deal with, I couldn't help feeling the garage had done themselves an injustice. Their handover process, like their initial greeting process, could have made another big impact on the future of their garage business. In the first instance, the garage could have checked they had all my details including mobile numbers and email addresses - this could help with future marketing. Next, I could have been made aware of the garage referral scheme (if they had one) - happy customers will be pleased to refer you and if there's an added incentive, all the better. If every customer referred just one other customer to you - you could double your business! As I said, if you don't ask, you don't get.

Finally, how can you be certain the customer will return next time they need something? How about providing a 'bounce-back' offer as a thank you and an incentive for them to return next time?

As you can see, the opportunities at the point-of-sale are quite phenomenal but it takes a little time. A bit of work here could pay big dividends and make life a lot easier for you.

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