In Search of Happy Customers, Pt. 2

Editor’s Note: Part One of this column by Chuck Marzahn can be found here.

Customer satisfaction. It’s like the Holy Grail, isn’t it? Everybody wants it and searches diligently for it, but it can be elusive.

Many don’t understand the intrinsic value customer satisfaction has.

OEM & Special Ordered Parts: Room for Improvement

One industry problem that has been clearly and consistently identified is the length of time it takes to accurately obtain a repair part. Most dealers have some cleanup they must do in the process of special ordering and parts management.

OEMs have a role to play here. If your OEM cares about the relationship it enjoys with the dealers, the OEM should work to accurately fill warranty repair parts orders.

We simply must get past the current system of pulling in opposite directions. An OEM should care enough to support the dealer in the effort, under warranty, to keep the customer happy. It is not helpful for the two parties to operate, as do many, in a state of mistrust and contradictory goals.

Meanwhile, revamping the way dealers think about special orders is needed. (That’s likely a column all by itself.) Let’s just say for now that the typical dealer could greatly improve the special-order process.

First, there should be an effort to stock regularly used hard-to-get parts. I have a 20 Group member who stocks OEM parts that are used a minimum of twice a year.

Second, there is a need to pay attention to the open purchase orders. That’s particularly true of OEM repair parts. Don’t order a part and think the job is done. The job isn’t ordering the part – it’s receiving the part that counts.

DMS Providers Have Key Role in Customer Satisfaction 

DMS providers have a role to play, too. There have been huge advances in the management of customer interaction. CRM systems have been vastly improved. Those systems have to be used as designed and with consistency to have the best result.

But CRM has naturally been focused in the area of attracting, tracking and closing sales. It would help immensely to highlight and train on best practices for sourcing, ordering, tracking, receiving and installing the right part in a reasonable time. Having the tools to track repair efforts and parts orders in your DMS at your fingertips and knowing how to use them makes a terrific improvement.

Best Practice: Better & Quicker Updates Through Texting

Some businesses are finding a big advantage in the use of text messaging. Texting seems to have developed into the main method for quick communication and short answers.

Do the test yourself: Try calling someone and the odds are you get a voicemail. Alternatively, text someone and the odds are you get a response.

That’s proof to me that we should be using text more to update customers on service status and parts arrivals. The technology is sufficiently advanced to make sense now. There are vendors to handle texting on a corporate level. That gives corporate oversight without exposing employee cell phone numbers.

A Mindset for Success

I’ve talked about the mindset for success in prior columns. The attitude you bring to the problem is too often more of the problem than the problem itself.

You need to do that old Zig Ziglar “checkup from the neck up”? Have you come to the point where you think nothing can be done? If so, you will never, never see a solution.

Customer satisfaction will not happen by itself. If you don’t care about your customer, this situation will never change.

Meanwhile, if you see the OEM – or the OEM sees you – as the opposing team, our industry will fail to resolve these issues we face. And our customer will pay to price.

How does all this tie together? It’s hopeful.

We are starting to focus on a metric that will uncover the causes of one of the perennial performance problems in our business. Dealers and OEMs should both encourage the efforts to close that gap. All of us should encourage those efforts.

Here’s the take away: Wanting or wishing for happy customers does not happen without caring and consistent effort on the part of everyone who impacts or touches the customer’s experience with your business.

Chuck Marzahn

Chuck Marzahn is a partner with Marzahn & King Consulting, a well-known consulting and training firm specializing in the RV industry based in Virginia Beach, Va. He can be reached for comment and questions at Chuck@MarzahnAndKing.com.

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