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The drive to continuously grow and improve is at the heart of the MRAA, our members and our staff. That’s why we’re launching this blog: to share what we’re learning in our work and in our lives with you – and in hopes you’ll share what you’re learning too.

 

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Communication Is Key, Right?

Posted By Allison Gruhn, Monday, September 24, 2018

How many times have we heard the cliché that “communication is key”? Or, that it’s better to over-communicate to avoid misunderstandings?

In customer relationships, it is not enough to merely communicate.  Here’s a recent experience of mine that I believe proves that how often you are communicating with your customers and what you are actually saying, is even more important. Is your message sincere? Or is it just lip service?   

Last summer, a storm rolled through Minneapolis and caused damage to our siding and roof. After many “storm chasers” knocked on our door to offer services, my husband and I decided to go with a contractor who was recommended from a friend, and who lived in our area. We had an initial meeting to discuss the work that was needed, and decided to add-on some additional home improvement items. Our contract was signed and we were excited to have the work begin.

And then we waited. And waited. And waited.

Just waiting for the work to begin was agonizing. We signed our contract in August, with the promise that the work would be completed in time for Thanksgiving. But we waited. Waited for materials to be delivered, for a dumpster to be delivered, for any communication of a timeline. Anything.

We finally reached out to our contractor, who instead of taking a proactive approach and communicating with us a plan about the work schedule, left us hanging with multiple excuses of “I haven’t heard from the siders yet” or “I’m waiting for the shingles to be delivered” or “the materials were delayed from the factory” or “I ordered the wrong garage door,” or … or … or. At one point, we actually received a message that said: “We haven’t forgotten about you. Sorry about my crummy communication skills. I’ll let you know as soon as I know a better timeline.”

After every excuse, we waited days to weeks with no communication or updates, which caused us to become upset and frustrated. It seemed as if we were always the ones to be reaching out to him, instead of him contacting us first. But more importantly, when he did finally respond to us, he’d make promises he wouldn’t deliver on. So we lost faith in his words.

So the question here is, how do you stay in touch with your customers? When their boat is in for service, do you wait hours, days, a week or even a month before providing an update? When that part finally shows up, do you let the customer know, or do you just let the technician know? When your customer’s new boat is on order, are you diligent about communicating updates from the factory with them?

It is not enough to just communicate. That is the basic expectation. What you say and how you say it is just the first step. If you wait until the customer asks, you’re not meeting expectations. You need to be proactive with your communication. Think through what it’s like to be the customer and how you can exceed expectations and deliver an incredible buying and ownership experience. And never forget that your follow-through -- what you do after you make the promises – is what truly defines the quality of the customer experience.

Tags:  communication  continuous improvement  customer experience  expectations  experience  Experiences  misunderstandings  relationships 

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Practice What You Learn

Posted By Bob McCann, Monday, May 7, 2018

In the Continuous Certification Q1 course, “Take Your Dealership From Good to Great with CRM,” instructor Sam Dantzler opened our eyes to asking how customers want to be contacted. Since then, I’ve been taking notice how the businesses that I interact with contact me. This week, I needed to get my bike tuned up and have the handle bar tape replaced.

I rode the bike to the shop and was greeted enthusiastically by the service team. They threw the bike on the rack and asked what I was looking for. I told them the rear derailleur needs adjusting and the bar tape replaced.

They grabbed a repair order and started filling it out with my name, my phone numbers and when I needed it back. After some small talk I tucked my copy of RO in the pocket, looked at a couple of new bikes and walked home.

Later in the day, when I was emptying my pockets, I noticed some boxes that were built into their RO that weren’t used. Based on what I learned in that Continuous Certification Course, I thought the bike shop missed two great opportunities to build a better relationship with me and build in more efficiencies.

The RO has two permission boxes for texting and emailing. These are built into the RO to remind the employee to ask the customer how they want to be contacted. Neither was used. I can only imagine the amount of time that could have been saved for both the shop and myself if they simply sent me a text that my bike was ready. I do believe if a business or representative can move into the customer’s text space, the relationship advances. And a growing number of people prefer to be contacted by text these days.

The second opportunity seems light years old and obvious: How could anyone miss out on collecting email addresses these days? We’ve been preaching to boat dealers at our annual conference for years to always capture a customer’s email address. Even after all these years, email marketing arguably gets you the best bang for the buck.

So, my question to you, are you executing on what you’re learning or are you missing these same opportunities?

Tags:  bike shop  communication  continuous improvement  CRM  relationships  repair order 

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What's in a Name (Tag)

Posted By Bob McCann, Monday, July 17, 2017

What do you think about your crew wearing name tags? If it was up to me, I would have the customers wear them too! I’m the worst at remembering names, even two minutes after an introduction. As a customer, I love it when the employees I meet are wearing name tags. It allows me to use their name, and I feel like I get better service because of the instant rapport we build. This is especially true when trying to get out of a middle seat on an airplane, into a nicer rental car or into a room with a view!

For the not so selfish, there are plenty of reasons for name tags too:

  • Ease of starting a conversation. Lack of communication is one of those reasons that often surfaces when we take a good look at an issue causing conflict at the dealership. If we can make it easier to get people talking and avoid the awkwardness of having to ask a staff member their name, it will help us avoid issues with customers and might even help us sell service or a boat.

  • Simplicity when reporting issues and problem solving for both customers and mangers. When a customer leaves the keys to a boat with the guy in the parking lot, it’s much easier to find the keys when that same customer remembers seeing Bob’s name tag!

  • Balance the playing field when talking with customers. It’s often taught to seek out and use the customer’s name during a conversation. This is done from reading the name on a credit card, warranty card, appointment card, etc. Why shouldn’t customers know employees names as well?

  • Credit where credit’s due when an employee goes out of their way to please a customer. It’s easier to tweet or post on Facebook, “Bob saved our day of fishing with his quick service to get our baitwell working before the start of the tournament” than “The tattooed guy with hipster facial hair…”

  • Deterrence and accountability. An employee who has had a long day would be less likely to tell off (or flip off) a customer if they have a name badge on. They provide deterrence and instant accountability.
Should all employees wear name tags?  Or should owners and managers be exempt? I’m always impressed when I visit MarineMax Team Support in Clearwater, Fla., where there are no customers but everyone wears a name badge, including Bill McGill. I don’t think you can tell your staff that for the above reasons, name badges are a good idea and not wear one yourself!

Name tags help to develop a genuine relationship between staff and guests. And “genuine” matters a lot to today’s customers. Rightly so.

Tags:  accountability  communication  credit  customers  ease  employees  name tags  sales  service  team 

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