Why good follow-up calls can generate repeat business

Dave Koshollek
Publish Date: 
Feb 20, 2013
By Dave Koshollek

J.D. POWER and Associates surveys new motorcycle buyers to collect data that measures owner satisfaction with the buying experience.

One thing I’ve noticed in recent years is that dealerships which performed customer follow-ups after the sale or service scored significantly higher in customer satisfaction than those who didn’t. Higher scores equate to more repeat business and greater referrals.

If performing a follow-up is so beneficial, why aren’t more dealerships doing it? The answer probably falls into the combination of no time and being short-staffed. But I think a lot of parts and service managers tend to make the follow-up calls too complex. Customers only need to feel appreciated, heard and remedied (if there is a problem), and the dealership only needs to know what it does that’s appreciated and where it falls short.

With that in mind, consider the following to measure the customer experience during significant parts and service purchases.

What’s significant? How about any customer purchase over $250? That will weed out calls for minor purchases or services, which should be fine unless you’re trying to improve a tarnished reputation. In that case you’ll want to set the dollar threshold lower.

Before contacting the customer it’s a good idea to ask for his or her approval. Before they leave the store, ask, “Do you mind if we contact you to make sure you’re 100 percent satisfied with the products and service? What’s your preferred means of communication; phone, text or email?” Capture that information and enter the customer into the queue for the follow-up. (Check your DMS for a function to manage this, or see whether the sales department’s CRM system could be used. Or create a spreadsheet or use a spiral binder. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just consistent.)

It’s usually best to contact the customer between 48 to 72 hours after the purchase or vehicle delivery. This ensures the data collected is timely and accurate, and if there’s a problem it allows you to respond before the issue festers and becomes a viral mess that no solution will repair. Perform follow-up calls at the end of the day so you get better call completions. You want to at least leave your contact information so that customers who really care can reach you to communicate what’s on their mind. Make two contact attempts and then stop.

For best results, offer the customer something of value. Example: “Hi, this is Dave. I wanted to thank you for doing business with us on March 22nd and I wanted to personally invite you to our bikini bike wash this Saturday that benefits the homeless dog shelter. We’ll provide free beverages, food and a cool T-shirt for the first 100 attendees. While I have your attention, I just need three minutes of your time to gather feedback on your service/parts transaction so we continue to improve your experience.” (Continued)