RV PRO

November '19

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118 • RV PRO • November 2019 rv-pro.com B U S I N E S S to contact the dealership only to require the service advisor to look into it and call back, maybe. Or worse, the customer leaves a voice message with no expectation of return call. • Not all of the requested items were addressed while the RV was in for service – requiring the entire painful process to start all over again or leave it even longer. • The RV has damage to it that was not there when dropping it off, which after a debate of who's responsible, will require leaving it even longer. • After getting the RV home and finally preparing for that next big trip, the customer discovers that one or two of the items that were supposed to be fixed have the same problem as before. Where's the quality control? • No additional service or mainte- nance operations were suggested while the customer had the RV in for service that could have made using it more enjoyable or prevented a possible malfunc- tion or breakdown. Quite often, customers will spend money that they haven't planned on if it will provide benefits to use or added piece of mind. • A negative first impression – no guest awareness. Not greeting arriving customers quickly or answering the phone. • Difficult to impossible to have service (especially warranty) per- formed while traveling. The negative feedback regarding cus- tomer service at the RV dealer's service department that I encounter comes from several sources and is never solicited. It's there if you care to pay attention. Much of my time spent on site with a client is where the action is – at the ser- vice desk. Here it's easy to overhear phone conversations as well as to listen, observe and watch the customer's body language. Another source of unsolicited feed- back about a service experience comes from just casual conversation with other campers who I meet while in the camp- ground, my neighbors on the next site, or at a planned social event. Also, as you know, social media. I belong to several RV related groups, which supplies an unlimited source of feedback – not just about their ser- vice experience, but the quality of the product, the manufacturer of the product and tire problems. But what I really find enjoyable is the sharing of travel experi- ences and locations. Too Often, Customers Just Don't Understand In balance, it's fair to note that often customers are a part of the problem as well. That starts with the fact that so many of them don't understand what the service department is up against: an extreme shortage of technicians, poor or slow parts availability, minimal or no payment for warranty work, new and used sales volume – especially just after a show or big sale weekend – that takes pri- ority and dominos all the other already waiting service work. Often, it seems like the service depart- ment is trying to be everything to every- body at the same time. While all or most of the above are real for some RV dealerships, it really doesn't change the customer's expectation when in his mind he has paid good money for a product that should add fun, excite- ment and adventure to his life instead of frustration and aggravation. As both an owner of an RV and being involved in the business, I have experi- enced firsthand many of the same situ- ations mentioned above. I intentionally made a four-state and 650-mile trip back to my selling dealer (who is also a client/ friend) to have the annual service and some minor warranty work performed. Even then, I made the appointment months in advance just to be sure not to be inconvenienced and to be able get on with a trip I had planned. Fortunately for me, I purchased my RV from a manufacturer that seems to really understand customer service. The RV maker provided parts and/or cov- ered a mobile service technician on a couple of occasions to have some war- ranty work performed while we were many miles away from our selling dealer, which was very convenient, as we were obviously staying on it full-time during our trip. I did attempt to schedule with the local dealer that represents my man- ufacturer but, as expected, they were two months out. Not to be one to just point out nega- tives – which by the way are really oppor- tunities just disguised – I plan to share a few recommendations in a future guest column that you could consider to pos- sibly address and improve some of the areas mentioned here. There certainly is not one magic fix, and I've found that each store has its own unique set of challenges and opportunities. The first step is always to understand and be able to relate to frustrations from the customer's point of view, then develop an action plan to make improvements – even small ones – to make the next day a little better than the last one. Make no mistake, the service department's primary function is to keep customers in the 'cycle' to become a buyer again for the second, third or fourth time. This is referred to as the 'life cycle of a customer'. The focus cannot be all about the first-time buyer. " "

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