Call centre confusion

  04 February 2013

Does your aftersales department use a call centre to handle bookings? In theory, it’s a sound idea. Customers’ calls get answered quickly and politely, while the diary is efficiently managed. And each booking is followed up with a neat little email reminder.

Meanwhile, staff at your dealership are freed to spend more time looking after customers whose cars are in for work. Everyone wins… or, at least, they should do.

But do you know how often, and how well, your people locally communicate with their call centre counterparts? Unless they’re on first-name terms, problems lurk.

It’s too easy for the call centre to make promises that your service staff can’t deliver. Here’s a case in point.

Customer books service. He wants his car collected from home, but no later than 9.30am and this is agreed. At 10am on the day, he’s on the phone to the retailer because collection hasn’t happened.

‘We wouldn’t promise to get to you before 11am, sir,’ comes the reply. ‘You see, our drivers don’t start until 8.45 and what with the traffic…’

Collection eventually takes place at 10.45. Customer’s put out, having had to cancel an important and potentially tricky meeting. Decides to entrust his business in future to the small garage near his home, where the fella who answers the phone also wields the spanners.

Then there’s the customer who’s been with you for years. Whenever he drops by, everyone from the receptionist to the valeter greets him as a friend. But when he telephones to book in his vehicle, he’s treated as a stranger.

The call centre detains him to check every detail: address, reg plate, model of car, mileage, phone numbers and address.

Thing is, he’s dialled the same number he’s always rung. There’s no clue that he’s talking to anyone but his usual dealership and he’s puzzled (and more than a little tee’d off) because they no longer seem to know him.

Few of us much like talking to call centres so it’s understandable that retailers wish to downplay their use. But doing so creates confusion, upset and perhaps even lost custom.

Use them by all means. But also tell your customers what’s what and ensure there’s a constant info swap between call centre bods and your dealership.

Ray Castle
Editor, Auto Retail Agenda

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