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How Knights found the real value of aftersales revival

Service can transfer from workshop to customer

Staff at a multi-franchise group in the north of England are prepared to take a car after a service to pick up a customer when they have done their weekly shop at a supermarket.

“We need to ensure that it is obvious to our customers that our operation is run to suit them, and not to suit our own convenience,” said the company.

“The starting point is to ensure that the personal appearance of staff and premises are maintained to a high standard to convey the image of a professional but approachable environment.”

Recognition of the group’s efforts came when one of its dealerships was the first in a car manufacturer’s franchised network to achieve 100% in its mystery shop campaign.

“Our staff fully recognise this is a true reflection of a customer’s experience and now constantly strive to be the best. We have been top in our manufacturer’s customer satisfaction programme for 18 months.”

The dealership’s CSI team is made up of a member of staff from each department. No managers were included because the company wanted its employees to come up with ideas on ways to improve service. A debrief is held after each meeting with a line manager and the dealer principal.

Staff are told to work together to look after each customer to deliver the best they can.

“We treat all our customers as equals. We understand they all have different needs.”

Another commitment is to ensure that vehicle services and repairs are explained without any unnecessary technical jargon. “We want our customers to understand what work has been carried out and, importantly, what they are paying us for,” says the company.

Overwhelming: owner’s gratitude to dealer

A premium brand dealership faced one of the most challenging problems – a customer reported a loud intermittent noise when reversing. The car was checked, nothing wrong was found, but the steering rack was replaced.

The dealer principal said: “I took the owner and his wife out for dinner, apologised, assured the customer all was well – and it happened again.”

A technician from the manufacturer was called in. For the second time an identical model was lent to the customer while the manufacturer carried out a full investigation.

The customer was kept informed daily, but lost confidence in his car, so a new replacement was provided, plus a bottle of champagne for the inconvenience.

“The customer was overwhelmed by the quality of attention to his complaint,” said the dealer principal.

“He recommended us to friends and family, saying he had never been looked after so well and would never buy another car from anyone else.

“The owners of a bakery regularly bring in cakes to say thanks for our customer service and we supported them by taking a table at their charity ball. We took other customers with us and this created more business.”

The dealer principal said another customer called him on a Sunday night to say he had locked his keys in the boot of the car. He had a spare set in his safe and his neighbour had access.

“I sent a driver to pick up the spare keys and deliver them to the owner who was many miles away,” he said. “The customer later bought another car from us.”

Another customer mentioned that his daughter was getting married at a rather a large society wedding. “I took a salesman and two white Lexus RX450s adorned with ribbons,” he said.

“Another customer told me the limousine company that was to take her daughter and friends to their school prom night had gone bankrupt and they couldn’t find a replacement.

“I lent them two new Lexus RX450s so that the girls could be driven to their prom in style. As a result I got a mention in the local newspaper about the dealership that came to the rescue. And I have a customer for life.”

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  • APC1953 - 13/09/2012 16:01

    All pretty basic stuff nothing ground breaking and what can be called outside in retailing doesn't seem to be addressed.