customer experience

Building Relationships During the Walkaround

The walkaround provides a great opportunity for dealerships and service personnel to take their time & build important relationships with their customers.

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The walkaround...an essential part of the vehicle service experience where a service advisor and customer quite literally “walkaround” the vehicle and do a quick visual inspection. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of videos and blogs out there providing tips on how to do the perfect walkaround. Because the walkaround has been an integral part of the service experience, it has traditionally been an area that many service training sessions spend a good deal of time focusing on. And while it was always about building relationships, to some extent, it was also about putting a coin in the tire tread and showing the customer that there wasn’t much tread left, for example. At some dealerships, it was really a non-event where they would point out door dings, scrapes on rim, scratches on the bumper, and maybe even take pictures of these imperfections so the customer knows they didn’t happen while the car was there for service. Some dealerships and service centers don’t have customers present for the walkaround and some don’t even do it at all.  

Why the Walkaround is Perfect for Relationship Building 

But it should be much more than just tread wear and door dings. Why? Because the walkaround provides a great opportunity for dealerships and service personnel to take their time and work on building important relationships with their customers. This is the chance for the service advisor to really showcase that the customer matters and they value them, their relationship, and their business.  

If a customer is using a reasonable synthetic oil, the dealer might not see them for 9-12 months if they didn’t have any automotive problems in between. In some cases, it could be even longer since the dealership has seen that customer. Maybe the customer had a small baby when they were there last and now, they have a rambunctious toddler. This is the time to be curious, ask questions, and see what’s going on in the customer’s life beyond just car maintenance/repairs. Showing that you care is one element to building trust. If we want customers to do non-warranty work with us for the long haul, the walkaround should be meaningful and memorable. Then, when you call the customer, and you point out things that were found during the multi-point inspection (MPI), the customer will have a higher level of trust to begin with. 

Use Technology Time Savers to Spend Time Building Relationships 

With more and more technology present in dealership service departments to assist with typical walkaround activities, machines that can measure tire tread, alignment, camera systems that photograph every part of the vehicle as it drives in for service, we can use that newfound time to work on building these important relationships. This gives us an opportunity to help service advisors get back to really investing the time to understand the concerns for why the customer brought the vehicle in. It’s about investing the energy that makes the customer feel like when they come in, they don’t get treated as a commodity, they’re somebody we know, they matter, and we care. It’s easy to have a basic conversation about whether they have a loner car or need a ride but it’s about more than that, it’s about being better than impersonal and in a hurry. 

We know that service advisors are busy people who may see 18-20 people every morning and may not feel like they have time for relationship building. However, effective service schedulers can help save the service advisors time beforehand by getting new address details and anything else that needs to be input into the system ahead of time. Since those steps should have been taken care of already, service advisors should have more time to invest in trust building activities. The customer can feel confident and trusting that the advisor is working in their best interest and feel like they really know them (remembering that they started a new job, had a life event, etc.). 

Use the Walkaround to Set Expectations 

The walkaround is a great time to set expectations with the customer for the day. You can reiterate why the customer is there (20K service, oil change, new tires, complete MPI, etc.) and ask if they have any other concerns about their vehicle. “Great, you’re here for a 20K service and doing an oil change...do you have any other concerns about the car that you'd like us to look into? No? Well, let me tell you what the day looks like... after your shuttle ride home, you can expect to hear from me between 11-12 and at that time I will have sent you a video with the multi-point inspection findings along with any recommendations from the tech. If there are no recommendations, I’ll be able to give you firm time for when car will be done. My best estimate now is that it will likely be done at 3 pm. If there are recommendations, you and I can discuss what can be done this afternoon so you can get the car back today as you mentioned that’s important to you. We can talk about what to schedule for later at that time.” When we don’t give the customer a good description of what the day looks like, we’re inviting confusion and phone calls. This combination of relationship and trust building and preparation for what the day will be like will help ensure that the customer feels taken care of and is not in the dark. 

Need help perfecting your or your team’s walkaround skills? Our Community Management team can help! Reach out to us today to get started. 

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