I was going to a facility to let a Service Advisor go (terminate him) and as I thought about the words I would say and how this was going to go, I realized that maybe there was a chance to save him.  Maybe I could teach him to be better on the phone….. maybe?

Let me start at the beginning here, you see we have just started getting the taped phone conversations between our clients (the automotive facilities) and their clients.  And the one thing that I heard repeatedly through these conversations was that my clients weren’t doing a very good job on the phone when speaking with their clients.  Well, to be honest, the words “very good” were a huge understatement; this particular Service Advisor had done a terrible job!!  And so, based on the multiple conversations I had heard, the ones the Service Advisor had taken part in, I was going to terminate him.  Why you ask?  There was never any asking for the appointment, never any helpfulness, and in most, there was almost a, “I don’t care about you” attitude coming through in the conversation.

Now to be fair, we had not told the Service Advisors that we were going to be taping their calls, nor even hinted at it.  It was through a tracking system that one of our marketing companies does for their clients.  And if you EVER get the opportunity to work with a company that has this kind of phone tracking technology, I would suggest you use them for this part maybe even more than what they are marketing…..this knowledge is that good!!

So as I drove, I listened through my laptop to many other clients Service Advisors conversations and to be honest, it started to upset me.  Many of these advisors had been through our Service Advisor School and many were very, very good in sales volume and all the other things that make a good advisor.  But these other advisors weren’t doing a good job either.  As a matter of fact, they too were doing mediocre jobs at best.  I got so upset that I finally pulled over and listened to about an hour’s worth of conversations between more Service Advisors and their clients.  After hearing more of them doing so poorly I called a friend/mentor of mine and asked him what kind of responses he heard when he had started taping his Service Advisors calls years ago, and he told me that he too almost fired all of his Service Advisors for the exact same reason, poor customer interaction.  I asked him what he did and he told me that he contacted a friend/mentor of his and asked him the same question, and he had a completely different opinion of how to handle the situation.  He told my friend to use it as a training session instead of firing some of the best Service Advisors in the industry.  What a novel idea………

You see there is a tremendous amount of psychology that goes into how to be good on the phone, and this is a step that we often overlook.  Whereas it is very easy to talk to people face-to-face because we can read their eyes or their body language, none of that is present in a phone conversation, or at least none of it comes naturally!  When we are on the phone we are sometimes thinking of the next big sale, the last problem customer or the boss who wants to speak with you after you close, and not the customer that you are talking to.  I think if we think back to some or any of our recent conversations, you might even remember doing it.  The point is, unless and until we get our Service Advisors to focus all their attention on the phone call at hand, we are all going to have the same experiences that these clients are having.

So, what is the answer?  Well, it is certainly not to go fire them; in most cases we have spent a lot of time, money and effort training them.  In some cases they have been with us for many years while in others the offending people were the owners answering calls because the S/A was busy.  The answer is, to train them on techniques for focusing their attention on the calls, having them visualize the client on the other end of the phone and talk with them instead of to them.  But the final big answer is to sit down with them initially and listen to the recorded calls together.  This is not to bust anyone’s chops, but instead to say, “OK, what could we have done better” or “how could we have handled that differently to achieve our goal”?  These are the questions we should be asking, this is how we get them thinking and this is how we changed the culture within our facilities. 

Do all my client owners/still listen to the calls, no, but the Service Staff will never know that!  It is the education and the fear that someone is going to listen and hear our inefficiencies that keeps everyone on their toes, well that and finally hearing how they sound to themselves that does the trick.

So, in the end we counseled & trained the Service Advisor that I was going to fire, well him and every one of my other Service Writers across the board!  Guess what I got for it and from it?  A 25% plus increase in car count and sales from almost every one of my clients that now record their calls.  Could you use more vehicles in your bays, maybe higher sales numbers?….. Something to really think about!

If you need help with your business and want to see and feel the successes you expected when you opened your doors, give us a call at:

The ACT Group, 805-444-2598 or visit our website for more information www.automotivecoachingandtraining.com