Reporter (and gearhead) Richard Truett raised a provocative question in his Hands On column in the December issue of Fixed Ops Journal: What happens when a dealership self-pay customer has done substantial research online and knows more about his or her vehicle than the service adviser does?
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How does your service department deal with customers who say, "YouTube doesn't do it this way," when most automakers have a set procedure to do the repair?
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The question arose from Truett's experience seeking repairs to a 2010 Mini Cooper S he had recently bought. He wanted the dealership's service department to examine the car's timing chain system and was prepared to pay $1,200 to replace the chain, tensioner and guides if necessary. The adviser, citing Mini's service guide, initially discouraged the sequence of checks Truett proposed.
The car ultimately was fixed to Truett's satisfaction, and he gave the dealership and adviser high marks on a customer satisfaction survey. But he noted: "Sometimes common sense must prevail over rigid factory procedures, especially when the customer understands the repair."
Squire Pettis, aftersales manager for Alfa Romeo North America's Midwest region, responded to Truett's column. He noted that he and his colleagues had just discussed the topic of service customers who genuinely know as much or more than the dealership advisers assigned to them.
"One of the things that gives some service teams problems," Pettis wrote, "is the 'do-it-yourself overload' that some of them deal with and the turmoil it could create — customers saying that 'YouTube doesn't do it this way' or 'the [online] forums say this' — when most OEMs have a procedure that is needed to do the repair.
"Is there or should there be OEM training so that there is common ground in these cases?" he asked. "Or are we on the right path?"
Pettis asked for our suggestions for handling this issue. But we'd rather hear from you.
How does your service department deal with customers who are genuinely knowledgeable about their cars and trucks (as opposed to those who think they know much more than they do)? What do you do when these customers' reasonable proposals for maintenance and repairs conflict with automaker guidelines? How do you balance these imperatives without sacrificing the customer's trust?
You can write to us at [email protected]. Please include your name, title and daytime phone number.
We'll publish the best responses we receive in our April issue.
And with your help, we'll regularly invite readers to share ideas about the thorny issues dealt with daily on the shop floor.
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