Confucius & all that
Actions speak louder than words
The cornerstone of any business is customer service. No, Confucius never said that but bear with me. I should probably qualify that by saying ‘good’ customer service is the key to a successful business, and top of the list is delivering on what you promise. As the great philosopher did say: “The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions”. Being a driving instructor, there are many things which constitute giving good service including, of course, giving great lessons. If you can make them fun and enjoyable as well as delivering effective results for the customer, then that is really going to go a long way towards high customer satisfaction. Managing their expectations about progress on their learning journey in an age where instant accessibility and satisfaction is the name of the game is important too, though it can be quite a challenge as well. A great way to counteract this is to use some kind of progress log, both for the learner and the fee payer as appropriate, as it provides a sense of satisfaction as to how far they have travelled in the learning process and how close they are getting to their goal of passing the test, while also satisfying their need to quantify how their money is being productively spent. It also goes without saying that you need to be ultra-professional at all times, however challenging or easy going any particular pupil is. They are paying customers and your reputation is priceless in this industry, so no swearing, no questionable humour, no politics, and I’m sure I don’t really need to mention ‘safeguarding’ in 2020, do I?
But it seems to me there is one point that is particularly crucial: reliability. People lead very busy lives, where careful organisation is essential in unlocking potential, while the absolute key to customer satisfaction is reliability. As a service provider, do what you say you are going to do. Nothing is more frustrating or aggravating for a pupil than an instructor not turning up on schedule. They have almost certainly arranged their day to make time for this lesson and a ‘no show’ from the instructor will light the blue touch paper of explosive dissatisfaction and potentially undermine your relationship with them, your success and wider reputation.
The following is my brief guide to help ensure a happy customer and a positive reputation:
1. Text the pupil the day before and confirm the lesson appointment
2. Turn up at the agreed time and at the agreed place.
3. Get out of the car and meet/greet the customer.
4. If you are running late, let the customer know. Apologise.
5. If you must cancel at short notice, let the customer know. Apologise.
6. In both of the above, it is best to speak to the customer. Call them. Be old school! Don’t just send a text and hope they received it! That said, a quick text is better than silence.
7. Be sure to make up any lost time if you were late.
8. If you cancelled at short notice, provide an immediate alternative time slot and a compensatory gesture.
9. Communicate. Nothing is more irritating to a customer than ‘radio silence’ on a ‘no-show’.
A Common Language
Wherever you acquire your customers – referrals, Facebook or from your franchisor – they are your customers, take ownership and take great care of them. Put yourself in their shoes and treat them as you wish to be treated yourself. I don’t know about you, but waiting for a pre-booked taxi to turn up when I have a train to catch is about as stressful as it gets. Back to Confucius: “A man who lacks reliability is utterly useless”.