A sprocket breaks on a zero-turn mower in late August. No big deal…just call the local dealership and schedule a repair. Unfortunately, it turned into a big deal for a rural lifestyle friend who shared his experiences in getting his mower repaired.

His first call was to the dealership he has worked with for 10 years. They said the repair would take 2 weeks. So, on to the next dealer. He said he didn’t carry the line and when asked about an aftermarket part, his response was, “Nope…not going to mess with it.” The third dealer listed the mower brand on his website, but replied with: “Yes, I’m a servicing dealer, but I won’t deal with your particular mower. I don’t want to service those older ones.” Finally, there was some success on the fourth call. The service desk employee was professional and friendly, but still noncommittal on when he could find the part and have the mower back in service. The mower was fixed about 3 weeks later and the chain broke on the first cut. Overall, it was a frustrating customer experience during the heart of mowing season.

Every one of these dealerships may have had good business reasons behind their service desk policies. And, you may have heard the same conversations at your own dealership. However, have you considered how certain customer service attitudes and policies erode trust and nibble away at your customer base?

Monte Wyatt, business coach and Rural Lifestyle Dealer columnist, says, “Client retention is one of the best ways to maintain and grow sales. Most people stop doing business with someone because of perceived indifference.”

That’s a challenge for dealerships, fixing something as undefined as “perceived indifference.” Wyatt says it comes down to “being willing to take the time to track information and take action to improve it.” It’s a matter of adding metrics throughout your dealership, so that you’re measuring customer service along with sales and aftermarket revenues. Wyatt suggests measuring things like the number of services a customer is using, the number of referrals your dealership receives, average dollar sale per customer and even positive comments.

He also recommends a process he calls the Net Promoter score, which is based on this question: How likely are you to refer your family or friends to our dealership? When asking the question, use a rating scale, with 10 being the highest. Ratings of 9 or 10 are promoters. Scores of 7 and 8 are neutral and ratings of 6 or below are considered detractors for your business. You can ask customers this question verbally at the time of service or with a follow-up call, email or letter.

Wyatt says to watch your scores for a certain timeframe to determine trends and then commit to finding ways to improve. He says your scores will improve when you are intentional about making changes.

Now that the rush of mowing season is over, it may be a good time to listen in to the conversations happening at your service desk. Your team may welcome the attention because happier customers make their jobs easier.