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Revisiting The Three Cs of Service Writing

I have received some reader feedback from my recent article about the three Cs of service writing. The feedback asserted that I’d gotten the three Cs wrong. I defined the three Cs as consistency, customer service and clarity. I believe that a service writer’s job is to be focused on the No. 1 priority of taking care of the customer.

I have received some reader feedback from my recent article about the three Cs of service writing. The feedback asserted that I’d gotten the three Cs wrong.

I defined the three Cs as consistency, customer service and clarity. I believe that a service writer’s job is to be focused on the No. 1 priority of taking care of the customer. If you take care of your customer, then your customer will keep coming back. This goes beyond good service work — the unit can’t talk, and no matter how well it has been serviced, if its owner doesn’t get a warm fuzzy, you won’t get a repeat customer. It’s sort of like a restaurant. Have you ever been somewhere that had really good food, but the hostess was rude and you had slow service? You might go back every once in a while because the food is just too good to pass up, but would you make it your regular stop? Probably not.

In order for a shop to be successful in the long run, you need a foundation. Part of that foundation is quoting the same jobs consistently. That means your customers will know they are getting the same deal every time. Service writers should be customer focused, which means listening to the customer and asking open-ended questions. It means they should be looking at the overall condition of the unit when it is checked in and asking questions about how and when the unit is ridden. Asking questions and focusing on what the customer really is going to do with the unit will help upsell them and will help you do a more complete repair. Clear and honest communication with the customer about the repair will build long-term trust.

Those are my three Cs. Others might define them as complaint, cause and correction. While I think this is good device, these Cs won’t help you sell more service work. If you only discuss the complaint with the customer, find the cause and correct the problem, have you really sold anything? Have you done the customer a good service by checking over the entire unit? I consider the service writer position to be a sales position. When service department employees are too focused on the traditional Cs, it allows employees to get into a rut of just fixing the unit.

I encountered an incident exacerbated by this traditional focus just last week. I was out in the garage working on some bikes when I heard that distinct sound of a two-stroke scooter fouling a plug. I went out to find a young girl stuck in our neighborhood with a dead scooter. She was furious, because she was on her way home from the dealership that just fixed her flat front tire. “I just got this back from the dealership after they had it for a week to fix the front tire, and it won’t even make it home,” she grumbled. I brought the unit in the garage and noticed the air cleaner was clogged. I cleaned it and the plug and sent her down the road. Sure enough, that shop followed complaint, cause and correction to the “C”, but they left more money on the table then they took in.

If that particular shop had been more focused on the customer instead of just fixing the unit and moving on to the next one, they would have accomplished two things.

1). They would have increased revenue for the shop by selling a general service.
2). They would have gained a long-term customer by making her feel like they are watching out for her best interest.

I do not want you to think that complaint, cause and correction has no place in the service department — it is perfect when it comes to dealing with OEMs on warranty work, because you are only going to get paid to fix what is broken. But if you want your shop to be customer-focused, consider adding three more “Cs” to your service department menu.

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