Process or People?


The job description for any manager, managing people and a department in a sales related field should consist of 3 very simple things.

    ​1. Recognize gross profit opportunity

    2. Spend money wisely

    3. Create an environment where it is easier and more enjoyable for your team to perform their jobs better.

The environment you create must be one where your team shares your vision, shares the responsibility of achieving the goals and celebrates the victories achieved by the team and the individual. It is also an environment where there are clearly defined goals and expectations of what is to be done, how the customers are to be respected and treated. One that reduces defects in product and process; respects the customers’ time and provide the customer with personalized service. It must also empower your team to make good choices, feel good about what they do and they know they are a valuable part of the team.

In the realm of CSI, the environment we create has a huge outcome on our CSI scores. We as managers must be the catalyst to success for our team, their happiness and to the delivery of great customer service. Our team, Consultants, Advisors or Assistant Managers all will perform better in surroundings where they enjoy working. When they are happy it is much easier for them to share the happiness with the customers.

If you feel that CSI questions are not fair, poorly thought out or can be too easily manipulated by your competition, you might be right. But, that does not really matter. What does matter is how your customers feel, what they perceive regarding how much you team cares about them.

Sure, we all know how to train the customers for the desired response but does that really help our goal of providing excellent care for the most important people we deal with every day? Consistently exceeding customer expectations can be a never ending battle. When we do those special things for the customer, we only raise the bar another notch and make it more difficult to clear the bar on the next round. 

Our focus should be on creating the emotional bond with our clientele, providing personalized service, tailored to their emotional needs. The most financially successful and highest achieving CSI service departments have realized this to be fact and focus on the activities that help to produce the emotional bond.

The only reality that helps us be successful is a positive emotional outcome; each interaction with a customer on a more personal level. Our goal must be to be to provide a positive outcome each and every opportunity we have to influence the customers’ perception of our services and our team. A great quote that conveys this truth is, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”― Maya Angelou

This observation by Maya Angelou is very true; our goal must be to make everyone feel important and every opportunity has an effect on our long term success. If our goal is to be successful then there is only one desirable outcome, anything less has a negative impact on the quality of life for ourselves, our customers and our CSI Scores. If we don’t make them feel good, we failed. Our guests must leave with a smile on their face, thinking “Wow, these people are different, they care about me.”

Most of the CSI training, encouragement and analytics focus on processes, and miss the personal aspects of customer service. Don’t get me wrong, I am a process driven person, but, without the personal touches the best processes are still cold and robotic. Processes without the personal touch will not improve relationships, loyalty or CSI Scores. Processes must support the activities that provide the emotional “They made me feel good” response from our guests.

Help your team succeed, focus on the activities that can positively affect the emotional outcome of every service visit. The activities with the highest emotional impact are pretty basic and have not changed since the Model-T. These activities require people skills, making people feel good about their choices, their service visits and most importantly making them feel like no one else could possibly take better care of them. The processes should be in place to enable them to focus on the people.

    1. Greet the customer promptly, with a smile and an attitude of “I am happy to help you today”. This is best accomplished in the customers’ comfort zone, before they get out of their car. The simplest form of a walk-around starts with just greeting the customer at their vehicle.
The processes that support this are:

        1. Scheduling appointments with enough time in between customers for the advisor to properly care for each incoming guest.

        2. Coaching advisors to spend more time with each client from the first step of the visit.

    2. Ask permission for everything you intend to do with their vehicle during the visit. “One of the free services we provide is to perform a multi-point inspection; it is kind of like a report card for your vehicle. Would it be OK with you if we did that while you are here today?”

The processes that support this are:
    1. Coaching advisors on permission based selling techniques

    2. Setting a great example by including them in the decision making processes, on marketing, pricing, discount coupons etc.

  • Look for solutions from the people closest to the problem, service advisors often know what needs to be done to make corrections, they just never get asked to help.

    1. Respect their time and follow up during the course of the service, provide timely status updates. People are emotionally attached to their vehicles and are uneasy when they don’t know what is happening or when the service will be complete.

 1. The processes that support this are:

        1. Again Scheduling enough time to care for the customer

        2. Coaching and checking the status updates are happening regularly and clearly defining the expectation of how often. It is better to over-do it and not. Update until the customer tells you not to.

    2. When returning the vehicle to the customer at the end of the transaction, go over everything that was completed in great detail. Review the MPI and any other services that were accomplished during the visit. Congratulate the customer on proper care of the vehicle. Make certain to Thank them for their business and set-up the next visit if at all possible.

1. The processes that support this are:

        1. Coaching them on the active delivery process.

        2. Clearly defining the expectations for re-delivery, not just what but also how and what to say.

  • Provide the functionality to set the reservation for the next visit.

    1. 2 or 3 days after the visit call them back and Thank Them Make certain everything is great with their vehicle and tell them you are looking forward to their next visit. This is also a great opportunity to remind the client of any unsold services they may have decided to postpone.
1. The processes that support this are:

        1. Building a report so that you can hand deliver a copy of who to call each day.

        2. Setting a specific time for each advisor to make the calls.

  •  Providing them a place to make the calls away from the service desk.

There are many things or processes that must be in place for your team to be able to deliver these activities consistently with a smile. Our job as managers is to make certain that they have all the support we can provide to give them all the tools to do their job better and the time to care properly for each customer. Checking all the processes are in place, Coaching them on how to do it well, Celebrating every positive accomplishment they have and Challenging them to achieve more. One very important thing to remember is; that if you cannot do these things yourself and show them how to do it, your likelihood of success is limited.

We all understand why CSI is important to the Factory and we know that the service we provide can have a positive effect on the customers’ future buying intentions. But really isn’t the most important thing knowing that we have done our very best to help our team perform better and that our customers like us and trust us. Happy employees deliver better service.

Doug Thompson
Director of Operations
Fixed Performance Inc.
Fixed Performance complete fixed operations coaching consulting