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2019-02-06 Customer Service - It Should Be a Win-Win Goal


 Customer Service 

It Should Be a Win-Win Goal

 

By Mark Dubois

 

 The BHPH business provides plenty of opportunities to provide great customer service, in a wide range of ways.

Customer service can be as simple as the buying experience at your dealership. Maybe your customers get a great experience after delivery through your service center or a vehicle warranty plan that helps them with vehicle repairs.

Many dealers claim their customer service is evident every day through the interaction between staff and customers. Some dealers take customer service to the next level by hosting events like a customer appreciation day.

Whether your dealership provides free oil changes or discounted rates to your customers on service and repairs, the focus of all of those efforts is to provide great customer service.

In BHPH we have an additional opportunity to deliver customer service through the method and approach of the collections department.

Payment arrangements are generally designed to help customers through a tough time when they can’t make their car payment in full or on time.

An additional objective should be to help customers get current with the payment obligation on their finance contract.

But does customer service have to be a one-sided relationship? Is the customer the only one who should benefit from the service you provide them?

Is it possible to deliver customer service that provides a win-win result for the customer and the dealer?

I believe the answer is yes!

Many of the dealers I work with have heard me describe what I call the “20-60-20” rule.

The theory is the majority of your collection efforts will be directed toward 60 percent of your account base.

That group will frequently struggle with making their car payments in full and on time, and need help getting their accounts back to current payment status. Working with those customers, keeping them in their vehicle and making payments, should be the number one priority for your collections team.

Repossessing a vehicle should be the last resort.

A payment arrangement in itself is a service you provide that should result in a win-win outcome.

Our NIADA BHPH training class teaches dealers and collections staff that payment arrangements are not automatic and are not designed for every payment situation.

Any payment arrangement must be supported by proof of hardship – or what we call verification.

Helping customers through a tough time and showing them the path to getting their account back to current status is a process that takes time, effort, discipline and structure.

Where this approach breaks down is when a dealer or collector creates an unrealistic or unreasonable payment arrangement for a customer and essentially sets him or her up for failure. The other side of that equation is when the customer does not honor the terms of the payment arrangement.

Either of those scenarios will result in a failed attempt to help the customer bring the account to current status and will likely result in repossession.

Creating payment solutions for customers that prevent repossession should be a top priority for BHPH dealers and their collections staff.

A good example of such a plan is helping customers get through the holiday season, when there is tremendous competition for the small income of most of your customers.

Understanding what end result you want to accomplish is the starting point for this collection strategy.

You know a high percentage of your customers will struggle to make their car payment during the holidays. The best collection strategy might be to show those customers a plan to make it through the holiday season and get caught up when the holiday season is over.

Is that impossible to achieve? Is it too much effort? Is it not realistic?

You only need to consider the options you have to convince yourself it can work.

 

TAX REFUND SEASON

Many BHPH dealers take advantage of a tax refund program in the early part of the year to improve delinquency rates, pay down excessive delinquent balances and even reinstate a repossession that might have happened recently.

What makes that plan so effective?

It’s a win-win customer service approach in which the customer and the dealer benefit from the outcome.

Tax refund experts estimate a single parent with two to three children earning $20,000 a year will have zero federal taxes withheld. That would result in a tax refund of more than $8,500.

If the same scenario was based on an income of $40,000 a year, the result would be a tax refund of more than $5,000.

Dealers who have embraced that payment solution will see tax returns being processed by the end of February.

Recent changes from the PATH Act resulted in delays in IRS funding of tax refunds for millions of taxpayers. But there is an option for a tax refund advance that permits dealers and customers to get money from the tax refund well ahead of the official tax refund dates.

In addition to improving collections and paying off side notes for expensive mechanical repairs you helped customers finance, this plan also permits a dealer to accelerate new loans (sales) well ahead of the official tax refund dates.

That’s another win-win outcome for the dealer and customers.

Customer service can extend way beyond simply polite interaction between customers and staff or a free oil change program.

If you plan ahead and determine that the end result is to help your customers through the holiday season, this plan can help you clean up delinquency, pay off side notes, reinstate recent repossessions and accelerate new sales with strong down payments.

At the end of the day, dealers can deliver customer service that provides a win-win result for the customer and the dealer.

For more information on consulting and training services to accelerate your business results, contact me at mark@niada.com.

 

Mark Dubois is a 20 Groups moderator and consultant for NIADA. He can be reached at mark@niada.com.