Whether they’re brand spanking new or old but still reliable cars need servicing. It can be simple or it can be something that requires a lot of work. Whatever the case may be, and it is on a case to case basis, these vehicles need to go to an automotive service department. The person they will most likely come into contact with on a regular basis will be the automotive service advisors.
Service advisors are the frontlines of an automotive dealer’s service department. They would be similar to the sales advisors in the showroom. Their job is to basically meet the customer, greet them and interact with them throughout the whole process of the customer’s vehicle being with them.
They wear a multitude of hats. On the one hand they are counselors. They listen to what the customer is saying regarding the issue with the vehicle(s) in question. They then let their team do its thing so they can accommodate these issues or concerns.
On the other hand they are also a trusted friend. They let customers know what needs to be done and how much the cost will be. They also let customers know what else should be done so that the latter knows what their vehicle needs in the future.
To put it more general and simpler terms, automotive service advisors are customer service representatives. They set the tone as to how the customer sees the dealership as a whole since they are often the first person a customer sees when they bring their vehicles in for service. At the same time their actions also determines whether the customer will be happy with the job and thus come back again and again to do business.
- Customer relations. This is what service advisors do. As mentioned they are the ones who see the customers more often. They are the ones who interact with the customers. As such, they are the ones who build the relationship between the customer and the dealership.
- Booking. When customers call in to schedule when they will bring their vehicles in for servicing it is the service advisors who puts them down for the date and time. In this capacity the service advisor makes sure that the schedule will not overlap with other work that they may have so as not to keep the customer waiting or in the worst case scenario not being able to finish the job because of time constraints.
- Follow-up. Usually when customers leave their vehicles for servicing they leave it and either goes home or go back to their workplace. That’s because the work doesn’t often start until diagnostics are done and waiting can use up time which a lot of people don’t have.
The follow-ups are usually about the results of any testing or diagnostics. These can include recommended actions or services required to fix the issues found and whether it should be done right away or can be held off until the next regularly scheduled servicing.
At the same time, the service advisor will also discuss with the customer the pricing and the time requirements to fulfill the service needed. Basically, they explain everything that has been done to the vehicle once the customer comes to pick it up so that the latter will have an idea of what’s been done and be kept in the loop.
- Complaints. While it is something that we all would not like to have to do, handling customer complaints is part of the job for a service advisor. This means that they need to be as patient and as diplomatic as they can when dealing with customers who complain about issues that came up after the servicing has been done whether it is real or perceived. How they service advisor handles this can determine whether the customer stays a customer or not.
- Administrative. While customer relations take up a good amount of time for the service advisor they also have to deal with the administrative side of things. That’s because records keeping and things of that nature fall under their prevue. Without this work will not be done and follow-ups won’t be made.
- Work orders. To ensure the right work is done to the right vehicle the service advisor must create the work order. These work orders will usually dictate what issues or problems were found on the vehicle and what work should be done to fix these issues or problems.
Basically, the work order is the guide that service technicians follow in order to service the vehicle in question. Without it, they wouldn’t know what needs to be done or they may do something that shouldn’t have been done in the first place.
When extra work is deemed to be necessary the service advisor usually gets approval from the customer first before writing up another work order. The reasoning for this is simple – paperwork. The work orders are documentation of the work done. At the same time this is the basis for the charges on the customer’s billing statement when they come to pick up their vehicles.
- Customer records. Much like doctors and dentists have patient records, service advisors have patient records too. It’s just that their patients are vehicles, not people.
Keeping an updated customer record on what services their vehicles have undergone in the shop is very important. The record is a basis for what service should be done next or what part of the car should be given extra attention to the next time it comes in. This way it will be easier to eliminate causes should the same issue still arise after servicing.
- Invoice and billing. Of course, the dealership won’t get any revenue if the customer isn’t billed for the service work done. This is an important job for the service advisor. They must create the invoice and bill the customer for the work based on the work order agreed between them and the customer.
Once the customer has been billed, the service advisor also needs to handle the money or process the transaction if no cash is involved. Again this is an important job because the service advisor has to make sure the right amount is taken in and the right amount is returned to the customer.
When it comes to working as a service advisor you do need a certain skill set in order to succeed. Without these, you won’t be effective in this position and you will not only be a detriment to your advancement but also to that of the service team and the company as a whole.
- People skills. This goes without saying. Remember, you are the face of the dealership that a lot of people see when they bring their vehicle in for servicing. As such you need to be able to interact with them in such a way that they will feel relaxed and even enjoy the experience.
- Communication skills. You’ll be talking to a lot of people. It’s not just the customers; you will also be talking to the service technicians. This means you need to be able to articulate yourself very well. This is so no misunderstanding occurs that can jeopardize not just the work being done on the vehicles but also the relationship between the customer and the dealership.
- Comprehension skills. It’s not enough that you are able to make other people understand what you’re saying. It’s also important that you are able to understand what other people are saying to you. Comprehension on your part is also an important skill to have so you can better understand what the customer’s concerns are or understand their questions so you can give them the proper answer.
- Mechanical and engineering skills. More specifically anything that has to do with automotive servicing and the like. You will be around machines and vehicles a lot. This means that you need to be able to understand what each is doing and know what the problems are that may arise from vehicles that are brought in. This will also help you understand the issues and concerns brought up by the customer so diagnosis will be easier.
- Troubleshooting skills. As a service advisor you will be asked to troubleshoot a lot of things that are going on seemingly all at the same time. You need to have the skills to find solutions on the fly which means you need the ability to think on your feet and without a moment’s notice.
- Writing and math skills. This has got to be a given too. Remember, you will be writing work orders and invoices so it goes without saying that you need a fairly good grasp of writing and math. This way your orders won’t be hard to understand and the invoice won’t be wrong.
As for training to become one, you may need to get some automotive technical knowledge as a start. You may also be required to get certifications on different aspects of automotive engineering and the like. There are usually classes and exams that go with these qualifications.
At the same time, you will need to continue with your training even when you’ve already become a service advisor. Continuing education is a must so you can be up-to-date with the changes and developments in the automotive servicing world.
What’s your take on automotive service advisors? Is it a good career path to choose? Comment below.