The following information will work whether you are dealing with the service on your bike, car, computer or lawn.
We now live in an age called “The Information Age”. This era began in the mid 80’s, when America’s economy transitioned from a “Manufacturing” based economy to a “Service” based economy. With this change came an increase in hours worked per person per year and less free time as shown by the decrease in vacation time used per year per person.
This led to an increased reliance on outside sources for many basic services such as lawn care, vehicle maintenance, basic household repairs and many other areas. This reliance on outside service providers necessitates an ability to have an effective communication relationship between the service provider and the service consumer.
The satisfaction of successfully solving mechanical problems coupled with the inherent interest in mechanical devices are some of the reasons for the technician’s continued work in the service field. In the vehicle service industry, be it cars, motorcycles, trucks, etc. the pool of talent available is decreasing. Combined with the physical demands, relatively lower pay and the social perception of a service technician, fewer people are entering the trade. With these decreasing numbers will come rising costs and reduced availability, and in some cases, compromised quality of the commodity known as service.
Most service providers are very quality conscious and strive to provide the best quality service product possible, and should be viewed as such. The increased technical complexity of the new vehicles (with all their cool accessories and digital luxuries) coupled with the constricted flow of information from the OEMs (manufacturers) and increasing load per technician will combine together to make it even more imperative that the relationship between technician and vehicle owner be effective.
The following are suggestions to make this communication more effective and less stressful.
1.) Know the year, make, and model of the vehicle or device you are dealing with. A registration slip with the Vehicle Identification Number (V.I.N.) or a receipt with the serial number is invaluable here. Please also be aware of and make note of any modifications to the vehicle or unit, such as exhaust, PowerCommander, big bore kit, etc.
2.) Whenever possible write down the issues that you are concerned with and the conditions under which these issues occurred. This makes the diagnosis, servicing and repair procedure less of a guessing game. If we have to subject the unit to every possible combination of conditions and operating methods, a lot of time (and your money) can be spent learning nothing. Writing down your expectations and anticipated uses often helps you clarify them in your own mind and is tremendously helpful to the Service Representative. Just like in a doctor's office, history and context is incredibly important, and you can work with your service technician to make sure we find the true root of the problem.
3.) If there are time constraints that could affect the transaction, you need to let the Service Representative know. Departure dates of trips, other appointments, etc. need to be mentioned ahead of time to keep scheduling from becoming more of a challenge than necessary. Scheduling is potentially a contentious area as everyone would like their bike back as soon as possible and by the same token, the provider wants to complete as many jobs as possible, and return the vehicle to you.
4.) When it comes to pricing, think about the value of your money. Value received per dollar spent is the true measure of a “good deal”. The ideal relationship is quality/value- driven, not price-driven. Our service techs are well-paid and very experienced, offering a higher quality level of service. At our shop, the newest member of the service staff has been in the industry for 7 years, and the longest term (held by the grey-haired one with glasses) is 34 years. The equipment used here, shown in other areas of the website, is as extensively outfitted as any service facility in the country.
5.) If you come in with a BYOP, (bring-your-own-part) expect a bit of skepticism. We don't want to be blamed for the failure of a part that we don't know the origin of (even if your part is completely fine - keep in mind that the usual reason for a customer to bring in a part is that it was "a really great deal on eBay", and then it doesn't fit right or is faulty, etc. Understand that these have been unpleasant jobs and anyone would be cautious afterwards). The arrival on our doorstep of Mail-Order or Internet-purchased products (especially tires) is not an anxiously-awaited occurrence for your service provider. Try going to a restaurant with your own steak to have them cook it and see how enthusiastically you are received. Part of the price of a product is the service you have a right to expect as part of that purchase. If the part is purchased elsewhere, your service provider will see that it is installed correctly, and if that product doesn’t perform according to your expectations or there is a warranty issue with it, the responsibility of the service provider stopped with the installation of that item, and now you have to ask a phone sales person your questions. When I am purchasing a system of parts I purchase them from the person I have the most confidence in to provide the answers I will need to make those parts work properly. It is rarely, if ever, the cheapest place I find that level of competence. While I don’t like being taken advantage of, I don’t mind paying what is asked because I can call that person and I know I am going to get a better reception than if I beat him up for every dollar possible. I consider that a very good investment.
If I have ranted on about this it is because I am passionate about the providing of excellent service. I am extremely fortunate in that I am surrounded by people here that feel the same way. I also have a number of customers, quite a few of which have been coming here for well over 20 years, which I feel speaks for itself.
Most of the guidelines and suggestions that you find here will work in any service-oriented environment regardless of the item being dealt with. I hope you find them helpful and thank you for taking the time to read them.
© Bill Whisenant 2007