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Phone Skills Fixed Ops vs. Sales What’s different What’s not

Generally, when someone thinks of customer service for a company functioning out of one singular building, they assume it should be the same across the board. When it comes to a dealership, however, customer service can vary based on the job and its purpose. Not saying that it shouldn’t be excellent no matter the department; however, each department functions differently. Some interaction is B2B, other interactions are front facing to the public, and a large portion of interactions are completely phone based. 

When it comes to the latter, we need to be sure that our customer service is top-notch because when we are on the phone, there is always a possibility that we will never see that customer step foot in the store if we make a poor impression. Communication is the key that can make or break the success of any company; therefore, it should be consistently fine-tuned to ensure each associate is up to par with the company’s mission both over the phone and in person. 

It is a given that excellent phone skills in the sales department are crucial since most dealerships have another same-make competitor close enough to earn their business. They need to be organized and educated on their product and what they can do for their customer at all times. But the fixed ops department is just as important. Some say the dealership doesn’t make money until a car is sold; however, retention is earned in the service department. While each department knows its worth, they are all crucial to keeping each other afloat. And Fixed-Ops need not forget that their competitors are literally attached to their sales cohorts’ competitors as well. 
Having a friendly and helpful sales department will never make up for a fixed ops department that is “super busy” and terrible on the phone. While everyone is working to do more with less (staff included), we must remember that this period is just that. Demand for service and vehicles is high, and customers’ wallets are thin, but what won’t change is time. We as an industry need to remember that even when things are weird, customers will remember how they are treated. The pace in service and parts is always faster, but that doesn’t mean its service should have an excuse not to be excellent on the phone as well. A common misconception for a fixed-ops department is that the customer “needs” them. That can change if they are not met with competence and compassion before they even step in the door because, at the end of the day, everyone is still in the business of customers AND their cars.

While the pace and volume of each department are different, what doesn’t differ is the need for a process and consistent customer service over the phone. When the dealership holds a high standard for customer service across the board, the business benefits as a whole; both Fixed Ops and Sales should have a specific process to practice to continue to ensure that their customers’ needs are met efficiently and professionally. Management should also keep this underlying tone present in day-to-day operations; when the entire team upholds the organization’s mission together, everyone thrives, customers included.

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