Courteousness and competency are significant factors in the customer service experience. However, excellent communication skills complete the trifecta of excellence.

As a researcher at The Daniel Group, I regularly receive feedback on a company’s quality of communication.  The comments typically highlight successes or hindrances.

Having a repair completed correctly or having a rental or vehicle delivered on-time, are high on the list of customers’ expectations. But many of them are also commenting on how and when they are informed:

“The technician was great about explaining the various phases of the repair.”

“The person on the parts counter called to let me know my back-ordered parts came in.”

These are two examples of what prompts customers to give kudos for effective and timely communication. It makes their interaction with a dealer memorable, in a favorable way. But just like a quick phone call or email can solidify customer loyalty, the lack of updates can lower customer satisfaction.

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Several months ago, a customer told me he had experienced a service delay due to a back-ordered part, which is not a big deal.  However, he was never told the part was being shipped from overseas or the anticipated arrival date.  This detail greatly affected the timeline for the service.

The customer only learned about the delay after making several phone calls to check on the status of the repair.  He said having to be the primary initiator of communication made him feel like the needs of his business weren’t important to the company.

Hence, when customers are kept in the loop, they feel valued.  It allows them to anticipate the impact on their day-to-day operations for staffing needs and project completions. When customers are informed about preventive maintenance tips or new products, they feel empowered.  It creates an environment of partnering with a dealer to achieve the optimal performance of their equipment or vehicle.

Undoubtedly, knowledge and professionalism are impressive to a customer.  But without good communication, these factors become muted.  It’s amazing to hear a customer’s appreciation for follow-up from a dealer.  However, I also hear customers’ frustration when their phone calls are not returned, or they are not made aware of important details.

In fact, the responses to “quality of communication” questions trend towards one end of the rating scale or the other — being very satisfied or very dissatisfied.  Most customers are not neutral concerning what is perceived as a must-have in a good business relationship.

Communicating with customers is time well spent. When it doesn’t happen, additional time is often spent trying to reestablish their loyalty.

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