Joshua Gwózdz, Marketing Specialist at Truck Parts Inventory (TPI), based in Canada, discusses the sometimes overlooked, customer service part of a heavy vehicle parts recycling operation, and how this could potentially be putting these companies at risk of losing business.
The importance of customer service seems obvious, yet in the heavy parts recycling industry, it seems to take a backseat to save time. Some people feel they don’t have the time to answer phone calls, lest they lose business while they’re on the phone. The thing is, by placing phone service behind in-person service, you may be actually shooting yourself, or rather your company, in the foot.
For someone in the vehicle recycling industry, spare time is short. The folks who run these salvage yards and companies can’t compete with larger companies like Meritor or OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), but that can change starting with prioritizing customer service rather than profit.
Obviously, it’s difficult to make concessions on things like profit these days amidst record-high inflation, parts shortages and protests. Yet, why are there issues like parts shortages? Because price-gouging and service fatigue make finding any parts you need challenging at best.
When it comes to price-gouging, the reality is that businesses still need to make money, but that doesn’t justify a 100% markup when someone sells a hard-to-find part. How many times have you been looking for a part in high demand, only to finally find one listed at a far higher price than you’re willing (or able) to pay?
That’s the frustration that follows price-gouging everywhere it’s found. Avoiding the issue of price gouging is simple: value the industry you work in. When you’re selling a part, obviously, you need to make a profit. You’re not going to let a great quality engine go for less than it’s worth, but there’s a fine line between that and trying to peddle something as more than it’s worth. The former would make you lose money, and the latter would make you lose customers and loyalty.
But when you find an appropriate cost range for your part, you’ll know because customers take note of things like that. They’ll remember the value that you provide through your service and be more likely to return to you again the next time they need parts. That’s why it can be beneficial to have quality control measures in place when you’re adjusting prices. Even something as simple as a follow-up email or survey for the customer can provide insight as to what will bring more business and what will bring less.
In terms of phone etiquette, how you behave and sound over the phone means just as much to the customer as getting what they actually need. If they receive poor service, don’t expect them to return. Even if you cannot help them get what they need, polite phone service will keep you in the clear and leave them with a positive interaction in their mind.
If the customer has a negative experience with your services, you can bet they’ll take to reviewing and talking about their bad experience with you whenever and wherever they can. That spells nothing but trouble for your business, even if what the customer says is partially or entirely false. That doesn’t mean catering to their every need either. At the very least, it’s expected to be polite. All hypotheticals aside, having polite phone service makes a generally frustrating task somewhat less so for the person who may have been phoning various places for hours.
Above all else, the important thing to remember about over-the-phone customer service is that our customers are asking for our help. In the heavy-duty parts business, most of your customers will be short on time, money and, in some cases, hope. You can help them by providing what they need at a fair price, or if you can’t provide it yourself, you direct them to someplace that can. You have a little empathy for the customer who needs your help to get themselves or someone they know back on the road.
That is how we start to change the public perception of our industry. As soon as people start realizing that they can acquire exactly what they need from the salvage yards and recyclers, we’ll see a boom in demand. We’ll see fewer people being so reliant on the OEMs to get what they need because they can get it from us cheaper, faster, and virtually the same quality, save for some cosmetics. Let’s bring more attention to the good work we do and elevate our industry as a whole.