Dan Anderson - who has been doing some of the best blogging around lately - touches a nerve about paying for advice from your dealership service people.
At the dealership where I work I have to account for every minute of my day. On a perfect day, every minute is billable to repairs on a specific machine for a specific customer.For my part, I think this is a typical result from letting MBA's at the company decide how to organize everything. The entire problem centers on the mandate to ascribe costs to customers - not provide service. This decree allows management to make decisions with the appearance of more, even better, data. The conviction is such scientific management tools will maximize profit.
But on most days, I get phone calls from customers asking my advice or opinion about repairs or problems with their equipment. Sometimes customers stop by the shop to ask questions. The questions usually take 5 or 10 minutes to answer, but sometimes stretch to 20 or 30 minutes. The customer hangs up the phone or leaves the shop satisfied with the answers he sought, but I turn around and ask myself, "How do I account for that time?" [More]
The result is arbitrary and unhelpful work rules that strike me as obstacles to good customer results. Some ways around this are out there already:
- A "miscellaneous" category for allocating such time. Just as we have a catch-all account for expenses that can't be allotted to a particular field, enterprise, etc. general overhead is one choice. Accountants as a rule hate this, and usually for sound reasons, but even their wish for a "place for everything" must be secondary to enhancing customer relations.
- Phone trees. I know - we hates 'em, we does. But the doofuses who call rather than read deserve to cool their heels. Actually, calls from guys who won't read probably aren't "very important to us".
- FAQ's. My wild guess is 90% of such queries can be anticipated by a frequently updated FAQ section on the company website with good - as in Google - search tools. As more and more of us acquire mobile Internet capability (and you will), those who need verbal hand-holding can be trained to find their own answers.
- Different levels of service. Just like airlines, "Premium Service" could include full phone support. The cost could either be bundled into frequent buyer profits (for instance, guys who trade every year would get it thrown in the deal) or stand-alone subscriptions. Some of us would pay for the service Dan is handing out for free or on someone else's nickel.