Referrals

Rhonda HiltbrandLoyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you. – Chip Bell

When a customer refers you to a friend it is wonderful.  The tricky part is to make sure the referral is as excited about your service as your loyal customer is.  That should be easy, right?  Well…not always.

I recommended a family member to my service and repair shop the other day for brake work.  I had my vehicle in for repair two weeks prior and my husband had his in for brakes just the week before.  They got the work done in both cases in record time.  They called with an estimate in about half an hour and the work was completed in about three to four.

I mentioned it in passing to a family member and they said they needed brake service, and would I recommend they go there.  I said yes, of course.  I even offered to help by meeting him there and driving him back home.  I said they are super-fast!  I should be back to pick him up around noon if we get his vehicle there by 8:00.

The estimate call came in quickly and then the wait began.  I know they close at 6:00 and the family member lives a half hour away from me and this was Good Friday besides.  Traffic would be intense. When 4:00 rolled around I called the shop.  They apologized profusely, said the vehicle had been ready for some time but a staff member was off and the person that was supposed to call forgot.  Yikes!  Thankfully we got the vehicle and they did wonderful work as always.

It seems whenever I recommend a business to someone, even if it is a restaurant, something goes wrong.  A few years ago, I even took friends to a favorite restaurant and it was an awful experience for all of us.  The staff was completely off their game that day.  I had never had it happen before or since, but my friends said they would never go there again.  Sigh…

If you are a great shop and you have loyal customers, but they don’t refer you, it might not have anything to do with you and your staff.  They may just be afraid due to a bad experience elsewhere. Should you be fortunate enough to have referrals, do your very best to make it the best experience ever.

Most likely this doesn’t apply to you, but in the off chance, I thought I would share it.

Have a great week!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Can You Be Replaced by Artificial Intelligence?

rhonda…Stephen Hawking suggests that “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race” to Elon Musk saying that “If I had to guess what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably artificial intelligence.”

I must admit to you all that I am a Star Trek fan. My favorites are Star Trek, Next Generation and Star Trek, Voyager.  When it comes to artificial intelligence interacting with humans I always picture Data and The Doctor.  I know a lot of Sci Fi shows (and even these showed the dark side of AI on an episode or two) have the AI’s wiping out humanity, unhappy at how they had been treated.

My inbox is full lately on the subject of AI. My Smartbriefs articles are all about AI and what it can do for businesses.  It has been seen as the way to get back good customer service.  I have been thinking a lot about that lately and think to myself…what a shame that customer service has become so poor that we need to create an artificial type.

I had the point driven home to me when I was exceptionally tired last week and in a moment of weakness drove through and ordered a diet coke.  (I try to just have my morning coffee and then water the rest of the day).  The person handed me a dripping cup.  I asked that it be wiped off please (who wants that on their clothes and in the cup holder?).  They did and I left and when I went to take a drink the lid came off, getting me wet anyway.  At that moment, I thought that an AI being couldn’t do any worse and perhaps could do a whole lot better!

The news was saying that in ten years banks will no longer have tellers as they will be replaced with AI.  I find that very sad. Other businesses are also preparing to replace humans with kiosks and other forms of AI.

Next time you are out and about notice the type of customer service you are receiving.  Then ask yourself if you are giving the best possible customer service to your customers.  It is something to consider.  I am sure no one wants to feel they can be replaced by AI.

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Never Be Too “Busy” to Help the Customer

Most-Important-Visitor

Rhonda HiltbrandThis week I went, as usual, to our local farmer’s market.  They have many unique items, a wonderful array of Amish goods and local homemade items. I was at the deli counter and asked for a pound of shaved ham.  The counter person kept slicing and putting it up on the scale until it was short one quarter pound.  She sighed deeply and said if I must have a pound she would have to open a new package.  I was shocked at the attitude but said, “No, that is okay. I’ll try to get by with this amount.”

I think she then realized what she had done and asked me what I was going to use it for.  I told her and we chatted a bit about recipes and such and then she asked if I needed anything else.  Before I could answer she said, “I know, the rest of your order of ham!”  I told her it was okay and took my package and went about my shopping.

She was an employee at this small business and in my opinion basically cheated her employer out of a full sale (and this is always wrong no matter if it is a big box store or small independent) but I felt especially bad for this employer as it is a small, independent business and every sale counts!

I then thought about the Facebook post I had put on our News Works page (the one above) and thought…how very true!

Have a great month and treat those customers well!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


You… The Indomitable Spirit

Rhonda Hiltbrand“Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Get stronger, faster and more powerful. Fill yourself with knowledge and empathy and an indomitable spirit, because no one else can do that for you. In the end, it’s your life, your choice and your world. Give 110%, always.” — Apolo Ohno

As I have stated so many times in my Help Me Rhonda columns…the service advisor has an enormous role in the business! You are the face of the business to your customers…you are the middleman/woman between the counter and the technicians. Everyone depends on you!

Sometimes I am sure that is a burden to you… especially when you take the brunt of the wrath of an unhappy customer who is positive that the technician messed up on their car repair/service. Through it all, stay positive. How?

• Always be polite to the customer.
• Remember… you know more about auto service/repair than the customer ever will… you are an authority on the subject!
• If the techs really did mess up, you know the best way to soothe the customer and give the tech a pep talk on doing it correctly this time!
• You have chosen this occupation … this career… because you love it! You are the very best at what you do!
• You take training classes or sign up for online service advisor blogs because you always strive to learn more in order to be more!

You are the best and you do give 110% each and every day! Be proud of who you are and what you do! It is a gift!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


It’s Not Only What You Do That Matters…It is How You Do It!

Rhonda HiltbrandCustomer service is not a cost center. Customer service is a
competitive advantage that can make or break a business.

— Alex McClafferty, writing at Forbes

Being a service advisor is all about customer service. If you have natural empathy for your customers you have a great head start…if not it is time to look inward and then brush up on how to relate to your customers’ feelings.

We’ve all been waited on from time to time by a person who acts in one of the following ways:

• Bored
• Physically they are standing across the counter from you but mentally their mind is elsewhere
• Grouchy
• They obviously do not like their job

I saw a sign in an office the other day and it made me laugh, but really sometimes the customer can feel this way about dealing with counter staff.

If you are grouchy, irritable, or just plain mean, there will be a $10 charge just for putting up with you!

They may want an additional $10 deducted from their invoice for putting up with this type of counter staff.

Sometimes it is hard to be on your best game every day…but as you usually only see your customers a few times a year…for the sake of the company you work for…always be your very best. If not, you may lose a customer forever.

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing