I would advise to visit with the service department along with Joe to see what exactly is wrong with the machine. If the service department is swamped and Eddie obviously has the knowledge to either repair or maybe advise a young technician thru repairing the machine. If needed, get a loaner machine to the customer, if possible. Make it a positive situation for the customer…
Fix it yourself if service is not available.
Given the prices combines are selling for and gravity of the situation – combine broke down during harvest and the Service Department backlogged, Eddie must find a way to get the customer back to combining his crop ASAP.
Eddie should consult with Service Management to see if a scheduled job could be juggled to allow a tech to fix the combine. If that’s not doable, Eddie should go to the customer’s farm and attempt to fix the problem. Obviously Eddie doesn’t want to revert to being a tech and miss out on potential sales, so doing the repairs is last resort. Great customer service often requires going the extra mile in situations like this.
Eddie should listen. Hear him out. Eliminate one variable where the customer doesn’t fee listened to. Next, let Joe know that he understands his urgency and explain his game plan. Let him know that the best option is that they get the combine into the shop for repair asap. If that’s not an option, Eddie should let him know that he’ll look at it himself, or at least start working on it until a professional tech can take over for him. Definitely an opportunity to listen, not be defensive and find out what the customer really needs to be satisfied.
Arrange an immediate meeting between customer, sales rep, and service manager in an office or conference room and talk through the problem and how dealership is going to tackle it…assure customer that between sales dept. and service dept. that customers’ combine will be given high priority…see if loaner is available…see how soon combine tech will be available…update dealer principal on situation and ask him to be in on meeting if available
I am assuming there is no loaner available first off? I am thinking Eddie calmly ask the customer politely to come back to the service department with him and sit down with the service manager in his office and have a quick chat and both the customer and the service manager are extremely busy and mentions to both them and he will keep it brief , he assures the customer between the three of them that a solution can be found and all people at the dealership understand the importance to get him back combining as soon as possible . Eddie ask calmly of the customer if could explain the problem to both him and the service manager, so they are both clear on the issue(s). Eddie ask the service manager what his thoughts were on the problem and what would be the earliest he could have a tech out to fix it as he knew they were swamped! After hearing the answer from the service manager Eddie asks the customer calmly if that would be acceptable. If it is not, he asks both the service manager and the customer if it would be acceptable to both them if Eddie to go out and diagnose and start repairs start repairs and/or be able to fix it considering his service background? And quietly wait for the customers response before proceeding any further with the conversation!
I would tell the customer that i will work with the service department and together we will come up with a solution to solve the problem. That way you are still trying to help him out but he will realize that you are not ignoring him.
To really be objective, and what would be most beneficial to the customer would be to call and set up an appointment with a shrink for the customer because he has an attitude problem that needs fixing more than his machine does. Not that I have a lot of confidence in shrinks, because I don’t, but the point is, that is the area this man needs fixed most. HOWEVER, to get to answering on the level we in business are looking for, since Eddie does have service experience, I’d recommend he look at the combine and see what he can do to fix it. The customer would feel he is not being brushed off, but taken seriously by Eddie, and it would shield the overworked service department from more work, or at least maybe the problem could be identified so that if they were needed to do the actual fixing, they could jump directly to fixing it and save themselves time on the diagnostic steps.
Eddie should offer the customer a Coke or cup of coffee in his office while he goes and asked for a favor from the repair team. Worst case, he gets the customer a loaner. While there is always some friction between sales and service in any field, I believe the salesperson should take the lead in solving all customer problems.
If Eddie has no other urgent matters that afternoon, best go see if he can solve the problem himself. He has experience and if he tells the service department his plan maybe they will lend him a service truck .He can win both parties if he can pull this off Customer and overloaded service dep.
I would find out what the problem is, it may be something that Eddie could help with, if it turned out to be something more serious, work WITH the service team to get it sorted ASAP This will require a good relationship between the the Sales & Service departments, in my eyes this is a key to having a high performing dealership and is where a lot of dealerships are struggling. In my eyes a salesman going out and at least trying to get his customer moving again shows he values the customer and any reasonable customer would appreciate the time the salesman puts in. That’s my take anyway.
Having now been on both sides of this type of situation. Reassuring the customer that we as a team will get to the bottom of and resolve the problem. The main thing is to not to allow them to feel as they are not important while not overwhelming the service department. As team and working together we can accomplish anything.
First things first – identify the problem. Is it simple or complex? If it’s simple give him a solution or go fix it. If it is over your head offer comfort in regards to the issue – I understand the issue but need additional advice on what it will take to repair. Let’s go talk to the service manager. Often times if it is dire there is a willingness to give urgency – especially in a case of a loyal customer. If your Service Manager is seasoned he will see this and respond in the same manner. If not then you might better have a plan B – such as a loaner. I have and continue to ride both sides of this fence. Empathy and a willingness to listen are a great foundation. Offering advice and/or a solution is key. If they are reasonable there is always a solution. I have sold, I have serviced, and I have been in both situations. Almost every time the final verdict has insinuated a life long trust and customer when treated as such.
I would offer to help Joe the best I could. I would ask him to tell me specifically what the issue was. If it was beyond my scope, I would ask a service tech when they could be available.
I have worked in the AG industry for 19 years and as a former service manager, dealing with customers is not always easy. The best thing for Eddie to do is bring the customer to the service department and introduce them. Next, find out the availability to get a technician working on Joe’s combine or at least to inspect and see what the true repair is. Helping Joe through this time of need may not seem like much but in the customers eyes it shows that you care and customers tend to stick to dealerships and representatives from that dealership that show they care.
Customer expectations are paramount, a seasoned dealership will have seen this scenario a few times over. You need to have many tools in your tool box to respond to these issues. Properly stocked parts for the season, back up units as required and a defined process at the dealership to addressed these issues. Customers gain confidence when a dealership can react accordingly
I would pull the service manager in and the three of us work together to come to a quick solution that gets the customer going again. Each part of the dealership needs to move in the same direction to be successful.
Its interesting that no one suggested to collaborate with the service department (service manager) first and diagnose the issue. In my experience this has proven to be both effective and efficient. Service can then prioritize the issue especially since Eddie has a service background. And Eddie can head out with possible parts, tools and maybe another service person. The most valuable lesson here is the sales person, Eddie in the case, needs to own the problem and customer relationship to the end regardless who repairs the combine. To often the sales person passes the problem on or is quick to try to up sell.
Unfortunately Eddie is no longer in a position to make a decision on behalf of the service department. Work within his perimeters to best satisfy the customer, possibly lend him a used combine until his is repaired. However, the dealership has professionals in the service department who are better equipped to deal with a situation like this and Joe can rest assured that they will resolve his issue as quickly as possible. Walk Joe to the service department, introduce him and oversee that everything is resolved to the customers satisfaction.
Keep in contact with workshop, get overalls on and get the machine working again. You are all part of the same team
I’d calm him down by loading a truck up with a nicer machine on the lot and drive straight to his farm. Return trip brings the broken one back in. Give him the weekend to combine with nicer machine and trade him into it on Monday morning after he sees you have gone the extra mile and care about him. Physically fixing the machine it shouldn’t be on the table
I would go fix the combine get the guy going and use this story as a sales pitch… But also use the situation as an example for management to make sure they organize the service department so sales get done too