Some veterans of the automotive aftermarket might remember the Ten Commandments of Customer Service. That Ten Commandments list looked like this:
1. Greet your customers when they come in the door.
2. Answer the phone before the third ring.
3. Tell the customer “thanks.”
4. Make delivery a priority.
5. Don’t leave the customer on hold.
6. Deal with complaints quickly.
7. Don’t make promises unless you WILL keep them.
8. Listen to your customers.
9. ALWAYS be helpful.
10. Treat customers the way you would like to be treated.
This is a list of things we should do. But it’s often more useful to point out things we shouldn’t do:
1. Do not hover: In the early days we were taught to meet and greet our customer at the door. But here in the 2010s we have added so many retail products that we should back off a bit. We still need to be prompt in acknowledging our customers but we do not need to hold their hands anymore as we should encourage them to look around the store and find some of those items they may need.
2. Do not answer the phone, “Partzzzz Howse, can you hold?”: We are very often too busy to answer that ringing phone but we can ill afford to make the customer on the other end think that. We have to get that phone and make that customer think we are ready to serve them.
3. Do not be too busy to visit with your customer: Yes, there is a fine line here. As managers we look and realize that guy has been here a long time holding my employee up, talking about the moon and stars above. But that customer is enjoying their visit and they are both smiling and having a good time, so let it be.
4. Do not be rude: Rudeness is the number one reason people do not go back to a store or business. Rude behavior cannot be tolerated when dealing with the public.
5. Do not show impatience: Just behind rude behavior is impatience when it comes to why customers do not come back to a store. Customers feel slighted when we show impatience and it is viewed as a form of rudeness.
6. Do not appear to be indifferent: Recently an issue came up where I had found myself telling the customer to go on over to another store. The customer at this point did not care how much I knew because I showed him I did not care. The customer is not always right but they are always the customer. A little patience goes a long way.
7. Do not mislead your customer: There are many customer complaints and issues we have to deal with daily. However, just as with every aspect of life, the truth is always best.
8. Do not argue with your customer: Another one-liner we have all heard is do not argue with an idiot because the people watching might not know which one is which. Since the customer is always the customer, issues should be resolved way before an argument ensues.
9. Do not break pledges to your customer: Deception will cause an argument more quickly than most anything you can do and once you lose that trust the customer may not ever come back to your store.
10. Do not hold back: Giving customers more than they bargain for keeps them thinking of you. We all sell parts, we all have various services we provide but, giving that little extra effort, compassion, courtesy or time in general can and should keep them coming back.
11. Do not give gloom and doom: Gloom and doom is prevalent and nothing runs customers off more quickly than a gloom and doom person. Positive thinking is contagious.
12. Do not say no: It’s the biggest two-letter word in the dictionary. No also is the most hated word in the dictionary. Customers do not like the word no and we are not always able to say yes. But we can offer solutions to them.
Gerald Wheelus is general manager of Edgewood Auto Parts, Edgewood, Texas.