Creating customers who will actively promote your business can be accomplished through some rather simple steps, such as educating them about the work involved in repairing their RV and showing respect for their unit by taking steps to protect it from dirt and grime.
In the December issue of RV PRO we focused on the first two minutes of a service call and left you with a mental “punch list” to prepare you, the professional RV technician, for the very profitable process of creating what the top customer service professionals in the world call “positive moments of truth.” The ultimate goal is to help you develop “Cheerleader Customers.”
Moments of truth are those contact moments when the customer consciously or subconsciously develops an opinion about you and your company. They can be positive or negative, and they can be stored in your customer’s mind, just like money in the bank if positive, or, if negative, a debt to be watched and scrutinized. If you make positive deposits, the customer becomes more than just satisfied, they become your cheerleader, and spread the word about you and your company. They become an unpaid sales person.
Also, the more positive moments of truth you store, the more of a cushion you create for the relationship with your customer. That cushion can be an incredible asset when you make a mistake, are late for their appointed time slot, or come in as the highest price on a quoted repair job, upgrade, or new RV sale. They are invaluable and require good habits and politeness more than technical genius. Best of all, you, the service technician, control the flow.
If you have incorporated the system covered in the December issue then when you meet/greet the customer you will have tucked in your shirt, spit out the gum, extinguished the cigarette, combed you hair (if you are lucky enough to have some). The sunglasses are off, you have read the work order and you know your customers name and what they came to your company about.
When you talk to them you know to take a step or two backward to give them some space. You are standing up straight and you smiled when you met the customer, introducing yourself by your first and last name and offered them a business card (if you have one) and a mannerly hand shake while calling them by their sir name (Mr., Mrs. or Ms. ____.) The customer has subconsciously sized you up and you have impressed them. OK, first impression moment of truth is positive ... check!
What now? Easy! Go back to the 80 percent rule: 80 percent of how your customers feel about the work you do for them will be based on how they feel about you, the person who did it. Technically good work is expected. It is not a gift you give to your customer. But if you want to give your customer a gift, and you should if you believe in the “law of reciprocity,” which says if you give, you will receive; then you want to give your customer a gift that will move them closer to becoming that Cheerleader Customer.
Developing an “On Site” Checklist
What can you give them? According to service expert Steve Toburen, “The best gift you can give your customer is good feelings about you and the work you have done in their home or building.” So, how do you give your customer that good feeling about you? Time to develop checklist No. 2 – the “on site” checklist.
- Focus on the customer. They are not interested in your small talk, even if they politely listen to you.
- Ask them to describe to you what they saw, heard or want that prompted them coming to your shop for service. This can be as simple as, “Ms. Johnson, can you show me where you saw the leak?”
- Show respect for the customer’s RV by explaining that you will take special care to ensure that you or anyone else at your company will not leave any new marks, hand or foot prints, etc., anywhere in the RV. If appropriate, tell them that your company uses carpet protectors, booties, gloves, etc., and anything else that will instill confidence that you are not one of those companies who consider getting a little grime on the RV interior a “necessary evil” of working on an RV. Here is a tip: share your cleanliness concerns with the customer, and the customers will make your job easier for you if you allow them to.
- If possible, wear the booties, gloves, and/or roll drop cloths right in front of them.
- Never, ever lay any tools on the customer’s furniture, carpets, counters, ceramic floors, or anything that may be dear to them.
- Once you have determined what the cause of the problem is, and have tested your theory, if the customer has remained on the premises, go and educate the customer. Be thorough with your explanation, do not be too technical or wordy, and do not try to impress. Now is the time you are going to give the customer confidence in their choice of your company, and give them the gift of feeling good about letting the job go into your capable hands by teaching them at a level they can understand. If possible, give them the cause, effect, and remedy, because it is a great way of teaching. It’s often helpful to tell them how long the repairs should take and to ask them if they have any questions before work is started on their RV.
- Do a quality job. No cutting corners. Everything we have discussed assumes quality workmanship. Do the work so good that you would welcome the best technician you know to go inspect it.
In the mind of the customer you have become more than a worker. You are a consultant. A professional. A friend and an asset. When you got your customer involved by conferring with them at the beginning, before the work started, and then again after you determined the cause, the effect, and the remedy, it became a partnership, and you became an ally. All the while the positive moments of truth kept building, and the customer went from being a skeptical person with a problem to being a smart shopper with a new ally who will help them keep their dream machine and one of their biggest material assets in good shape.
Steps to Getting Paid
Now, you and your company need to get paid. First of all, believe it or not, most customers expect to give a check to professionals when services are rendered. Getting paid is not hard and it does not have to be uncomfortable. Everything we have talked about so far is about communication. Collecting payment is no different. If you have done everything we have discussed to this point getting paid will be easy. Whether your company uses a cashier to collect payment or if you are responsible for collecting, you need to have a communication system. Here is how we always handled it:
- Make your invoice complete. Name, address, phone number, type of RV, and the original complaint. Include the date, the time you started talking to the customer and time you finish, allowing for the time to fill out the invoice and collect for the work. Be concise with the description of what you found, what the cause appeared to be, and how you fixed it. Remember, paperwork is part of the job. Write legibly. As for myself, I like to write out the invoice in front of the customer to tie the paper work together with the entire service call experience. I do not recommend having the service writer or manager or anyone not directly involved with the repair fill out the report. It raises suspicion and is a negative moment of truth. They can, however, price it out.
- Price the invoice out clearly and check your math.
- Here is the only time a little soft talk may be appropriate. Before you give the customer the invoice, offer them some reassuring words like: “Well, Mrs. Customer, it is all fixed. It is a good thing you noticed the problem when you did. It substantially reduced the damage that could have resulted. Good job.” Remember, no one likes unexpected expenses. Making it palatable eases the pain, and the compliment at the end galvanizes the partnership. By the way, it is at this end of the experience where the positive moments of truth you were banking along the way really come in handy.
- Explain the invoice, and finish by explaining the price along with the words, “Will that be cash, check, or charge?”
- Always, always thank the customer when you are finished. This can be as simple as, “Thank you for allowing us to serve you.”
Next time we will look at some hot potatoes. Hot potatoes are situations that create negative moments of truth just by their very nature. We will focus on how to turn a negative into a positive. A few examples are: keeping the customer waiting, call backs, finishing the job but not being certain that you have corrected the problem, and big invoices. See you then.