Cliff: “If you’re always at the bottom there’ll be stories in there, a reason why. We get our bottom 20% salesmen in every other month, look at their customer satisfaction, and we ask them why. It’s not a telling off, it’s to see how we can improve them. There’s always a story.
“Maybe the son’s been ill, or the wife’s messing about. It’s understanding that within business it’s human beings and there are issues that come with human beings.
Recognise that, encourage it, train it. And if you can’t train it, get them out. You have to do that. Sadly the industry is not attracting quality people at sales level.”
Bangham: “We embarked on a trainee programme for sales people for that very reason. The good salespeople aren’t moving if they’re in a franchise which is doing well. We need to get new talent because those who come tend to be the ones who aren’t succeeding somewhere else. We used to have a philosophy like most retailers, warm body syndrome, just to get a body in place. That just doesn’t work, because all it does is delay the inevitable.”
Bangham: “We use our contact centre for ringing our customers to book appointments for their service and MoT, and that’s all they do, booking in 2,500 customers a month. It also does our follow-up, ringing all service customers within three days of being at the workshop.”
Cliff: “We both listen to phone calls, not every call, but it’s making sure that our call answering is done in a
professional manner, because that may be the customer’s first point of contact. And email responses, it’s making sure the response is correct and making sure we’re actually giving the right information. We’ll put half-an-hour aside to listen in, and you make that known when you go round the sites, telling them well done for a great call. Then that gets round their team like wildfire.”
Bangham: “It’s having general managers who are capable of dealing with issues, and if that fails then we’ll talk to the customers. Sometimes a customer just wants to talk to someone who can make a decision, so we make sure that our general managers can make decisions.
“Ultimately, if a complaint comes to me or Tony, it’s going to cost the branch more money because we solve the problem. So it’s in the manager’s interest to solve it as soon as possible. We’re not going to get things right all the time, that’s the nature of business.
Customers’ expectations are very high and we always try to get to that level. What frustrates customers more than anything is time and not going back to them, so we try to ensure that we give our people the tools to resolve problems.”
Cliff: “In fairness, with the length of time we’ve been in business the customers could be on the eighth, ninth, tenth car, or they know people who’ve dealt with the business and know how it operates. We’re not in this to make a fast buck out of every customer, it’s about that customer coming back the next year and for their next car. So with a small argument it’s just not on the agenda because this business has been built on giving the customer that bit extra.”