Q: We recently took our vehicles in for repair and servicing at two local auto dealerships and an auto repair business. All were good about giving us an initial update on the work and to recommend additional work that was needed. But none of them called back to let us know when the work was completed or, in the case of two businesses, that they wouldn't be able to finish the work that day as planned. What is your advice for both customers and businesses on how to prevent this break down of courtesy and communication?
A: Getting cars serviced and repaired can be a big nuisance and disruptive to our schedules. Add lack of courtesy and communication, and servicing becomes even more of a bother. Some questions to ask when choosing a place to have your car serviced are:
* Do they have a ride service that can take you back home or to your work if you have to leave your car? If they take you home or back to work and then pick you up when the car is finished it eliminates having to ask someone else to transport you.
* Do they have an option for loaners that you can drive if your car service is going to take more than a day? Some dealerships offer a loaner car for their good clients.
* Is their place able to service your car if it's in warranty or do you have to return to your dealership?
* Be sure and ask people you know and trust about a car service place and if they would recommend it. Word of mouth is very powerful.
* Ask for a specific person to communicate with throughout the day to check on the progress of your car.
* Do ask for a call before they do any major work on the car so you can have an idea of the cost and if you want it done that day or if you need to reschedule. You also may want to get more than one estimate for a repair job.
* Do ask for an approximate time when your car will be finished.
VEHICLE SERVICE PROVIDERS:
Some things the car place can do to offer good service and develop a good relationship with a customer are:
* Make sure the waiting area is clean and comfortable. Offering water and/or coffee can be a nice touch.
* Give an accurate estimate of the time involved for waiting and the name and phone number of the person who can keep the customer apprised of what's happening.
* Call the customer to let them know the status if things are getting a little behind and you see that the job can't be finished in one day. This allows the customer to make arrangements for another ride if needed or to reschedule on another day.
* Do be careful when servicing cars. Put down paper floor mats inside the car and make sure any dirt and grease you might leave behind gets cleaned up.
* Offering to sweep out the car and clean the windows when servicing a car is always appreciated. Some places even offer a car wash.
* Most importantly, communicate with the customer. Leaving her or him in the dark about what is happening with their car can cause people to go somewhere else.
Courtesy is important on both ends of the deal, whether you are the customer or the car shop.
Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. Email questions to email@example.com.