Recommendation is the ultimate goal in customer service, according to John Dingle, managing director of Dingles Group.
A follow-up questionnaire response that a customer would not recommend the dealership to a friend is logged as a complaint – even if the same customer has expressed complete satisfaction with the service.
Dingles, a three-site Toyota dealer group in Norfolk which also sells Subaru and Isuzu at its Norwich branch, is constantly looking to raise its customer service levels.
Where once “satisfied” was good enough on a questionnaire, it no longer is: anything below “completely satisfied” is considered a complaint, logged and followed up.
These questionnaires are sent to customers with a prepaid reply envelope addressed to Dingle, ensuring that he gets to see all customer feedback.
As Toyota raises the bar with customer service, Dingles raises it even higher. Toyota dealers have to get more than 76% “completely satisfied” in questionnaire responses to receive the top 3% margin.
Staff are rewarded individually for positive responses from customers they have dealt with. If more than 80% of the relevant questionnaires have completely satisfied customers, staff will get a lump sum per car sold.
For aftersales staff, this is set at 60% as Dingle acknowledges it is harder to get completely satisfied customers in this area. Staff are also motivated by social events, including football matches and tenpin bowling.
“Just being honest” is the most important factor in customer service, said Dingle.
“People should tell the truth. If you say you’re going to do something, then do it. It’s that simple. Most of the issues anyone has are with communication.”
Dingles has a centralised aftersales call centre. The call centre staff are trained to upsell and are given incentives for selling services such as air conditioning checks and engine flushes.
The company will have a sales call centre in place by the end of the year.
“Our database is our greatest asset and we need to use it to the best of our advantage.”
Dingles is replacing its mystery shop system for sales in the new year with a call recording device to monitor all calls.
“I think the fact that you’re looking at them 24/7 will mean staff will raise their game,” said Dingle.
New customers are given a Dingles Difference DVD which sets out the company’s commitment to customer care, services available and the people delivering them.
Dingle believes it is a highly effective way to widen the company’s message to all parts of the customer base.
The group also offers a loyalty card to customers. The vehicle loyalty club is another way of bonding with customers said Dingle.
Costing £29.95, membership lasts as long as you own the vehicle and discounts increase as the vehicle gets older.
Customers will also receive free puncture repair, 10% off genuine manufacturer accessories, free summer and winter health checks, free bodyshop estimates and 20% off rental rates.
Dingle personally interviews any customer-facing staff to ensure they have the right personality, initiative and commitment to customers.
- Dingles Group won the AM Excellence in Customer Service Award this year.
- 2010 awards: www.am-awards.co.uk
Rewarding those who look after customers
Toyota is constantly raising its customer service which has a knock-on effect at Dingles, said John Dingle. Dealers receive extra rewards on top of the basic bonus scheme, dependent on the number of customers “completely satisfied”, according to questionnaires.
If a dealer gets more than 76% “completely satisfied” they receive a 3% margin on top of other criteria. This percentage decreases as customer satisfaction falls.
Scores below 36% receive no additional margins.
Dingles is currently getting a 66.8% “completely satisfied” rate, which means a margin of 2.5%.
Dingle said the average Toyota dealer gets between 56-61%, receiving a 2% margin.
“At the end of the day, it does reward those who look after customers properly,” he added.