15 Tips for Meeting Customer Service Expectations from RV Industry Experts

Customer service is more important than ever.

With technician shortages, supply chain disruptions, and other challenges burdening the industry, customer service, teams are feeling the pressure to do more with less. What can RV dealers do to maintain (and even improve) service at their dealership to meet customer expectations?

We rounded up insights from speakers at the 2021 RVDA Convention for how dealers can meet customer service expectations.

IDS Customer Service Infographic RVDA

1. Great customer service starts with a happy team

“To create a great customer experience, employers have to ensure they are providing a great employee experience. This is especially true during a time of record employee exits. Rather than focus on a quick fix—such as a compensation increase or a ‘spot’ bonus—companies who are seeing success in keeping their employees are focused on ways to meet employee needs around creating a sense of belonging, feeling valued, and balancing work and life through greater flexibility.”

Mike Bensi, Consultant and Founder at Bensi & Company

 

2. Focus on setting realistic expectations for service wait times

“At RDS, we believe Customer Experience must be the primary driver for every policy or process decision made in an RV Dealership. Additionally, Communication is the #1 priority for any customer experience. Service has never been easy in our industry. Many customers have expectations like their experience at an automotive dealership, and RVs are a completely different industry. If they drop my car off for service in the morning, they expect to have it back by the end of the day – unless they’re replacing the engine. A similar repair at an RV dealership may take six weeks. Autozones are on nearly every corner, but I haven’t found an RVzone yet!

Here are some keys to effective communication:

    1. Set proper expectations, fully explain the process from start to finish.
    2. Set a time to follow up with communication and exceed that expectation; always let the customer know when they should hear from you again.
    3. Communicate even if it isn’t good news, most customers won’t ‘shoot the messenger’ they just want to know what is going on – share news even if it is bad.
    4. Ask the customer how they prefer to communicate and use that method, give the customers options—if they prefer text, text them – if they prefer email, send them email updates. Treat people the way they want to be treated.”

Jamison Carrier at Relentless Dealer Services

 

3. Incorporate gathering customer feedback into your service processes

“How can you stop or intercept customer and employee problems at the dealership before they happen? (Risk Mitigation!)

Consider posting signage at your dealership to capture the feedback before customers and employees post negative reviews on the internet.

Dealers can create QR codes to make signs to post throughout the dealership. QR codes make it easy for people to provide feedback from their mobile device.

When you shorten the timeline between complaint and information capture, it will result in a quicker and less expensive solution for the dealer. It prevents lawsuits and regulatory problems.

Anonymous feedback overcomes reluctance of employees and customers while encouraging honest and prompt reporting of complaints. This increases your chances of discovering hidden issues before they transform into costly problems.

Catch and cure!”

Tom Kline, Lead Consultant and Founder at Better Vantage Point, LLC

 

4. Think holistically about customer experience

“When we think of customer service, we often think of classic tactics for reacting to when a customer has a question or complaint. But creating a great customer experience involves anticipating your customers’ needs and proactively initiating communications with them to address those needs.

Because of that, you need to think about your customer experience holistically, across your entire team and at every touchpoint with the customer. This will encourage you to consider questions like ‘what is our customer philosophy and is our team consistent in executing on it?’ or ‘how effective is our organization’s follow up system?’

This will also help you identify parts of your service process that you can lean out using technology, so customers can have a more seamless experience. For example, giving customers the ability to pay online without having to come into your dealership, and leveraging text messaging as much as possible.”

Frank Tamburrini, General Manager at IDS

Read our Guide: How to Create a 360° Customer Experience at Your Dealership to Drive Repeat Business

 

5. Leverage technology to create a consistent customer experience, online and offline

“We’ve certainly encountered turbulent times more recently, but there are quite a few things that can be done to maintain or improve customer expectations despite these challenges. Two out of three shoppers say they are now more likely to buy a vehicle 100% online, so make sure that you’re accommodating their needs with a virtual experience of your own.

Make sure your online showroom is as well put together as your brick and mortar one. Include communication options like texting, video chat, and more to tailor your sales and branding strategies and meet the customer where they are. Make sure you understand the value of technology, data, and ultimately digital retailing to maximize your opportunities and your ROI during this challenging time.”

Lori Stacy, Chief Executive Officer at Trader Interactive

Read Our Guide: How to Optimize Your Service Department Flow Using Automation

6. Track your dealership’s RECT

“It’s more important than ever to stay on top of your Repair Event Cycle Times, specifically the two main bottlenecks—out-of-stock parts and warranty coverage. Look at every aspect of your repair cycle and track your results to determine the proper course of action for your dealership to improve your customer’s service experience.”

Don Miller, Senior Data Consultant at Constellation Data Solutions

 

7. Embed constant improvement into your service department

“There are two critical areas of focus for RV Dealers when it comes to meeting (or exceeding) customer expectations in today’s climate. First, be honest with the customer in what you can deliver—it is far better to under-promise and overperform than the other way. Customers know what the climate is like—just let them know what you can and will do – and then do it, or more.

The second critical element is to actively institute a focus on continual improvement in every department—measure what is happening in each area, accept that it can be improved, learn what to do to improve those measurements, practice the new skills until they are habit—rinse and repeat. This focus on continual improvement will be recognized by customers and will delight them.”

Myril Shaw, Chief Operating Officer at Dealer Profit Services, LLC

 

8. Build relationships with your customers

“Be present and keep engaging!

You can’t give what you don’t have, but you still can be of great value. Your expertise, customer support, and ability to generate good relationships are the most important ‘why buy.’ So, stop selling RVs. Start selling your value to the customers.

Offer your expertise through a valuable content strategy. Connect with customers via personalized messages, let them know that you appreciate them via birthday cards or lottery tickets on Christmas. Celebrate their anniversaries via gift cards, support them via phone calls or text, solve their problems via good advice on social media groups and forums. Or invest your time in customers by making some research on their behalf to answer pending questions. The point here is to bring value in the way that will speak to them the most.

Implement a good automation strategy. Choose and then use an excellent Tech stack to Meet your customer, whatever they are, whenever they need you.

Remember, it’s all about relationships. If you generate trust and emotional connection with customers, they will most likely be more forgiven of what you can’t do or don’t have.

The quality of your relationships today will affect your revenue growth for the next 30 years.”

Kristina Shrider, CMO at Giant Recreation World, Inc., Orlando

 

9. Invest in customer education to help them have the best experience at your dealership

“Here at DealerPRO RV we strive to train our Dealers’ Service Advisors how to train their customers on how to properly maintain their RV to prevent unforeseen mechanical breakdowns resulting in costly repairs that could have possibly been avoided, thereby saving them money.”

Don Reed, CEO at DealerPRO RV Training

 

10. Engage with your customer digitally

“Research indicates that half of all consumers have permanently changed their shopping habits as a result of current challenges in the industry and world. Many shoppers now want the option to engage with their favorite dealers and retailers digitally—for safety and convenience. NTP-STAG’s no-cost ‘Parts Via’ program offers the ability to add another marketing channel to your existing toolbox.”

Val Byrd, Customer Merchandising Manager at Keystone Automotive Operations

 

11. Prioritize clear and honest communication

“In today’s market, RV customers want two things. First they want open, honest, clear and concise communication. Secondly, they want an expedited delivery. Our dealers utilize a 7-minute menu presentation, and they do not sell. They just tell!”

Ross Pantano, National Sales Director at Vision Management Group

 

12. Connect with customers on their preferred channels

“Between the crazy 18 months we’ve just had, combined with inventory challenges, communicating with your customers has never been more important. Fortunately, it’s also never been easier. 89% of your customers prefer you to text them, not call them.”

McKay Allen, Vice President of Marketing at KENECT

 

13. Now is the time to invest in F&I solutions

“Advocate and educate customers on the products you offer in your F&I office. The customer truly needs to understand how these products can enhance their RVing experience while saving them headaches and money while traveling in their RV. Not only are these products an extension of your customer service, but they also create profit and efficiency for the dealership.”

Shannon Boudreaux, Director of Sales at Coach-Net

 

14. Bring in mediation when needed

“The best thing an RV dealer can do to get their customer back on the road is to include a mandatory pre-suit mediation provision in the dealer’s purchase and service agreements. During a challenging service issue, this provides the dealer and the manufacturer a final opportunity to resolve the customer’s concerns and keep everyone out of court.”

Harold Oehler, Certified Federal and Florida Circuit Civil Mediator at Oehler Mediation

 

15. Focus on what you can control: communication

“With the recent influx of first-time buyers and renters, striving for exceptional customer service is critical in preserving these customers for the future. Dealers are currently faced with many challenges well outside of their control, and these create greater room for customer dissatisfaction. Like any relationship, communication is key, and especially in the relationship between the dealership and the customer.”

Jesse Stopnitzky, Partner & Director RV Division at Performance Brokerage Services, Inc.

 

Key takeaways on meeting customer service expectations

Selling an RV is just the beginning. What keeps customers coming back, year-over-year, from generation to generation, is service.

Remember:
• Think holistically about the customer experience
• Create a culture of honest, cleat communication at your dealership
• Leverage technology to improve communication and create a consistent experience
• Embed seeking customer feedback and fixing bottlenecks into your processes
• Don’t just make sales; build relationships

Want to learn more about how you can create an unforgettable service experience at your dealership? We designed IDS ServiceCRM to help you deliver faster, more efficient service at your dealership.


Click here to learn more.

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