Taking the Word 'Customer' to a Higher Level
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Opinion

Taking the Word ‘Customer’ to a Higher Level

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I always remember as a child my mother telling me to keep my room clean or to put the toys away in the family room. The reason for keeping the house extra clean was to make the place look nice because we were having guests come to visit.

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A couple weeks ago, I was at a major aftermarket event called the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium. The one-and-a-half-day session consisted of presentations, speeches and panel discussions by the big names in the industry, from manufacturers and service providers, to program groups and industry associations. While this is an educational experience for all who attend, the primary goal is to take the net proceeds from the event to fund scholarships for students pursuing careers in the automotive aftermarket. (By the way, the symposium has raised more than $1 million during its 10 years of existence.)

One comment that was mentioned more than a few times was the need for service providers to make sure their bathrooms are clean. As you might imagine, there was a lot of conversation about female customers and the need to make sure they are comfortable with the location they choose to have their vehicles serviced.

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Clean bathrooms were mentioned so many times that it became a bit of a joke. We all know that it takes more than a clean commode to fill the bays. But the point is, it also takes more than just good service to make the experience worthy enough for your customers to want to come back for more.

There was also a lot of discussion about the great lengths that new car dealers are going to in an effort to make the total service experience one that will help create life-long customers.

Which gets me to a word that John Watt from a service chain in Canada called Petro-Canada Certigard used when speaking of their customers: He referred to them as “guests.”

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Customers as guests. You may have heard this term being used by other shops. It is an interesting mindset for every employee in the shop to possess. Guest – it seems to take the word customer to a higher level. A guest is defined in the dictionary as a person to whom hospitality is extended. A customer is defined as one who purchases a commodity or service. Which would you rather be, a guest or a customer?

There is a lot of training information available about how to treat customers. But just think back to what your mother taught you about how to treat a guest, and you’ll have a great starting point.

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