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Customer relations training is important for your employees

November 11, 2010

A thorough examination of attitudes and practices at a dealership is necessary before an effective consumer relations program can be instituted. A comprehensive consumer relations program that looks good on paper won’t work unless the underlying reasons for the complaints have been resolved.

Complaints generally arise from unmet expectations and misunderstandings. Poor communication usually is the root of the problem.

Communication starts with you. You must convey to your employees the dealership’s philosophy—its goals and its code of ethics. Central to this code is a commitment to serve customers fairly, honestly and courteously. One goal should be that no customer will leave your dealership with an unresolved problem. You must train your employees to practice that philosophy.

One study found that 54 percent of customers who reported complaints did not consider the first person they contacted helpful. Damage done by thoughtless employees is incalculable. "Consumer conscious" employees can do much to ensure that you will have satisfied, repeat customers.

• Explain your goals, objectives, and customer relations policies to your employees. Outline this in a letter to all your employees and discuss it at regular staff meetings.

• Explain the whole customer relations picture and the importance of each employee’s role in it.

• Explain how an effective customer relations program will make the job of each employee easier because there will be fewer complaints, more satisfied customers, and a better working environment.

• Utilize your manufacturer’s training program or professional seminars to train key personnel in customer psychology and people-handling.

• Integrate role playing in sales and service staff meetings to enable staff to react to trial situations.

• Make sure each department understands the policies and procedures of other dealership departments. Have managers sit in on meetings of other departments.

• Explain to your employees new laws, regulations, or actions taken by the manufacturer or government that affect your business or impact your customers.

• Hold informal sessions to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your customer relations program.

• Orient new employees to your program and publicly recognize employees who have done an outstanding job with customer relations.

This article is excerpted from "A Dealer Guide to Customer Relations: Profits, Not Problems," available through NADA University’s Resource Toolbox.