In working with automotive dealerships as I do, I am frequently asked where some of the biggest opportunities are. “How can I see the biggest impact right now?” “What do I have to spend or change to increase my sales?” And other questions like that. It is funny that many leaders look beyond what is right in front of them in terms of customer service skills when searching for success.
Remember that all of the marketing you do is in an effort drive people to contact you. Many times the first person they contact is the most overlooked in your dealership or business:
There are many dollars spent on trainings for BDC and sales teams, but many times the dealership’s receptionist is not involved with any of these trainings. However, this individual is one of the most important people and most overlooked on your staff, as he or she delivers the first impression someone gets of your business and lets the customers know how they will be treated when they arrive. If the receptionist is one of the first people to meet and greet your customers, why would you not invest in customer service skills training?
What I also encounter is, in many instances, companies put the lowest paid person in this position. They feel that this is not an important job and anyone can do it. WRONG!
I had a discussion with a General Manager who just did not see how this impacted anything. “They just answer quickly and pass it on to the real people who can help.” If this is your belief or how you treat the customer service training of your receptionist then please just use an IVR to route calls. (You know how much you love to get caught in the loop on one of these when you have a problem with a business!) Customers want to speak to someone and this someone had better be pleasant, polite, efficient and knowledgeable.
I can already hear it, “How knowledgeable does this person need to be?”
Enough to know who is in charge of each department, to be able to understand the business in case someone asks a simple question, and to know what specials are currently going on. The receptionist does not need to solve many problems but having someone who sounds as if he or she is not knowledgeable about his own company creates a negative impression right from the start.
Ok… you are dismissing any phone training for this employee. Well what are you doing to train them when a customer gets onsite? Do you think some simple customer service skills training might help?
We have all been to businesses where the receptionist does not even notice we are there, or ignores us (after we see him or her notice that we are there), or does not look at us when he or she speaks. How do you feel when that happens? I know I feel that my business is not important to them. “Now serving #5.”
If you do not provide customer service training for your staff, you leave it up to them to decide what is the correct level of service to deliver, which may be below what you demand.
10 Basic Customer Service Skills
- Stop what he/she is doing and greet the customer with eye contact.
- Focus totally on the customer as he/she asks questions.
- Listen for the answers the customer gives to questions.
- If you have to take a call, excuse yourself, put the call on hold and go back to the customer in front of you.
- Be polite when telling customers that they may have to wait and give them a time frame of how long they may have to wait for.
- Show customers where to wait.
- Offer customers something to drink (if applicable).
- Let customers know where the restrooms are.
- Offer your hand when thanking customers for their time as the leave.
- Ask customers “Did we take care of all your needs?”
Take the time to demonstrate what you expect and then take the time to go back and monitor what your receptionist is doing. Do not fall into the trap of “not having enough time” or “they seem like they are doing a good job.”
Customers have such a wide variety of choices of where to shop that every misstep that happens on site pushes customers to your competitors.
Your receptionist sets the tone from the start that your business cares about people, that every customer is important and that you are there to serve. Focus on training your frontline staff to deliver that level of customer service and you are on your way to logging more sales, getting more customers to go online to preach about your services, and beginning the cycle of referral and repeat business.