Reading the caption, you might be wondering what, telling your wife, “I love you” has to do with automobile service and workshop management. Let me narrate an incident which happened in one of the dealerships in Hubli, North Karnataka.
North Karnataka is a very traditional market, even today. Amavasya (no moon day) is considered inauspicious in North Karnataka while in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu Amavasya is considered very auspicious.
The automobile business is seasonal across India for various reasons like festivals, depreciation, half-yearly closing, year-end offers etc. While eight months are good for business in general, North Karnataka has hardly four auspicious months for regular business.
It was my observation, that on the day of Amavasya, the day before and the following day our load for service (known as Throughput in Volkswagen) will be higher than on other days and the floor and the team are equipped to handle the extra load. Another interesting observation was on this day a lot of doctors especially dentists bring their cars for service. I made it a practice to greet the doctors at the service reception. One of the doctors explained with a smile without being questioned. “Amavasya, no patients,” he continued. Patients do not come unless it is a life-saving procedure.
An incident happened on one of these days. From my chamber where I sit, I could get a peek into the service floor. I saw a doctor known to me discussing something with the service adviser. I rushed down to meet him and made arrangements to drop him at his house. Other than the service load the day, went on as usual.
Around 1:30 in the afternoon after getting a reminder call from my wife I left my table to go home for lunch. This was a luxury I enjoyed throughout my career in the automobile industry. As I got into my car I saw the doctor driving out of the dealership. On the way home, I went to the nearby filling station to fill petrol. To my surprise, I saw the Doctor filling the air in the car tyres. After filling the petrol I approached the Doctor and asked him.
“Doctor, what are you doing?”
Visibly annoyed the doctor replied. “Can’t you see?’
“Yes, I can see, that is why I asked.”
Now it was his turn to be surprised.
“What do you mean?” The annoyance was still visible on his face.
I continued, “Doctor, your car completed its service hardly ten minutes back”.
“Yes,” he interrupted.
“While servicing the vehicle the tyre pressure was checked and corrected” I explained like a teacher lecturing an erring student.
To my surprise, the doctor nonchalantly said in a raised voice. “But nobody told me”.
I stood there staring at him as if hit by a thunderbolt.
The doctor drove off and I went home had quick lunch and returned to the dealership. With the new insight, I called an emergency standup meeting of the service team.
I put forward my question. “How do you explain the work done on the car at the time of delivering the serviced car to the customer?”
The service head directed the senior most service advisor to answer my question. He picked up a job card and started to explain. “We take them around the car and based on the complaints or concerns indicated by the customer at the time of handing over for service is read out to the customer and if any extra concerns spotted and unearthed by the floor team, if done, is also explained”.
“What about the untold concerns?” I asked.
The service advisor was confused. He looked at me quizzingly.
I picked up the marker and wrote on the whiteboard:
- Checking and correcting the tyre pressure including the spare wheel. (Many a time, in the event of a flat tyre, when we take out the spare wheel we will find that it does not have sufficient pressure)
- Adjusting the driver seat and back support incline to the original position set by the customer
- HVAC vents in the positions set by the customer
- FM radio, the channel set by the customer (I used to listen to a Hindi channel and whenever I get my car after the service the channel will be switched to a Kannada channel)
- Set the ORVMs (Outside Rear-View Mirror) in the proper positions
Take care of these untold concerns and you will have a delighted customer who will give “excellent” when the OEM makes PSF (Post Service Follow up) call to get the feedback. If you empathise with customers and have a customer-centric approach in whatever you do you will get everything right.
I have always tried to educate the service teams on the above mantra more than anything to create happy customers.
When I started talking about it in one of the North Indian dealerships (UP), the Dealer Principal (DP) challenged me.
“What nonsense? We perform all these activities.”
I told the DP, “Sir, please check the tyre pressure when you get your vehicle after service the next time, without any bias.”
A week later the DP called. “Ganesh San, you were right. Let alone telling me, they did not even check and correct the tyre pressure.”
He had gone to a filling station to check and correct the tyre pressure. He read out the tyre pressure data in each of the tyres. The number showed that the pressure in the four wheels was far from optimum.
Now, do you agree that ‘It is not enough that you love your wife, you should tell her……’