Managing Customer Expectations in Automotive Customer Service

Picture: Bruce Mars via

Picture: Bruce Mars via

When it comes to Automotive Customer Service, you are the person on the frontlines.

You are the friendly face that stands between the customer and the rest of the company you work for, the teams that fulfil the customers needs, and all the supporting departments along the way.

Being the person at the front, quite often you are not the person who is making the important decisions, but you are the one who has to have the difficult and challenging discussions with your organization’s customers.

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How your customer feels when they walk out of your office depends largely on their expectations, which by definition means their belief of what will happen when they come to you for service. If, for example, they had high expectations but received a low level of service quality, they will be disappointed. Giving them expectations that are too low however is not beneficial, because they will instead go to your competitors who they can expect more from.

So you see, the key here is to manage the customer’s expectations at the right level according to their individual situation, and there are many ways to do this from your Automotive Customer Service position.

Remain Optimistic But Realistic

When a customer brings their vehicles to you and you have to explain problems to them, you have to do so in a very open and honest manner. There is no use in sugar-coating or trying to minimize a problem just to avoid disappointing the customer; but of course, this should always be done in a respectful manner.

Deliver the truth to your customers, and then start discussing the realistic solutions necessary to bring their vehicle back to working order. While bad news cannot be avoided in life, customers are usually able to accept it much better when they know that the automotive customer service representative speaking to them is being honest, open, and truthful.

Openly Discuss Solutions

Some solutions will take a long time, and some will cost a lot of money. Depending on the severity of the situation, there may even be solutions that are cheaper and quicker though less effective or of lower quality.

All of these options should be discussed openly with your customers, so that they are able to make well-informed decisions. While you should avoid trying to pressure your customers into choosing a certain option over others, you should at least make recommendations to help guide your customers just in case they’re unsure of which ones may be the most ideal for their situation and budget.

Be Clear About Timelines

After having chosen a solution, the thing that bothers automotive customers the most is when they are given unclear timelines. “Maybe in a few weeks” is an example of a bad way to communicate how long it may take for their vehicle to be repaired, since a large part of their lives probably depends on that vehicle.

If you are unable to give them clear deadlines, it is okay to give customers an estimate but always remember to clearly explain to them the reasons why.

Never leave your customers in the dark, forced to play guessing games. In most cases, customers are willing to wait for their vehicles to be repaired as long as they know the reasons why they are required to wait.

Follow-Up Regularly

Follow-up is important. This means writing or speaking to your customers periodically to give them quick updates of what’s happening to their vehicles, particularly when it comes to repairs that take a long period of time to complete.

This is good because it reduces a customer’s level of uncertainty, and avoids them having to guess how much progress has been made in repairing their vehicle.

As with many other things in Automotive Customer Service, too much is annoying, too little is unproductive. The key here is to follow up with your customers periodically when you have updates to give them.

Sometimes, a quick phone-call is all it takes to keep your customers happy.

When a customer can walk into your organization with high expectations, that’s a reflection of their confidence in your business. When your customer leaves having those expectations met or exceeded, that’s proof that your business is able to deliver well.

The key here is to ensure that you can keep your customer’s expectations at a level that your organization is capable of meeting or even exceeding.