2015 Best in Class: Best Customer Service

Austin Boats & Motors
Lakeway, Texas

The best sales tactics and marketing promotions don’t mean anything without great customer service to back it up.

A dealer can come up with plenty of creative ways to draw buyers into the showroom, but those raving fans only come from taking great care of the buyer before, during and after the sale.

That’s a philosophy that Austin Boats & Motors has embraced wholeheartedly.

“Without the emphasis we place on customer service throughout every aspect of the buying/ownership experience, these strategies would not promise lifelong customers,” said vice president Martin Boyer. “Customer trust is paramount in all aspects of the purchasing process.”

Austin Boats & Motors’s delivery process is key to its customer service strategy.

Austin Boats & Motors’s delivery process is key to its customer service strategy.

Austin Boats & Motors establishes trust in a number of ways, including making managers readily accessible, having dedicated customers serve as ambassadors in online forums and at events and having sales associates that are “high information, low pressure.”

Progressing through their life stages, many customers purchase second and third boats from the dealership.

“As a family-owned and operated business, each and every customer comes to realize our commitment to them not only before the buying experience but also all the way through the actual purchasing process and into the fun of the boating lifestyle,” Boyer said. “Our central Texas authentic ‘laid back’ way of life makes it easy to promote the family boating lifestyle. This easy living attitude makes customers like friends and neighbors the moment they walk through the door.”

That dedication resulted in perfect 100 CSI scores from Glastron, Mercury and Yamaha in 2014. The importance of CSI scores and customer service is stressed to every member of the Austin Boats & Motors team.

“We recognize that CSI scores are a direct reflection of the job that we do with each and every customer,” Boyer said. “These scores afford us the opportunity to manage our customer relations in a positive way. Each and every member of our team takes responsibility for our CSI scores.”

The customer focus begins with the salesman and is carried all the way through the process to the on-the-water orientation (OTWO) by the delivery captain and to the service after the sale.

The delivery and orientation is one of the best opportunities to achieve customer satisfaction. Each delivery is conducted by a delivery captain trained by the company’s Make Ready Manager. The MRM is responsible for regularly verifying and improving the process.

“Our standard monitoring process involves the MRM becoming an unannounced member of the OTWO,” Boyer said. “This allows him to monitor and ensure that each delivery captain’s presentation adheres to our OTWO procedures.”

The same staffer that rigs and completes the boat make ready process also conducts the customer orientation, increasing accountability, quality and overall customer satisfaction. Customers can also contact their personal delivery captain with any questions after the sale.

“Some dealers in our area have tried to mimic our delivery process but can’t figure out how we do it,” Boyer said. “Many charge a fee for orientation at the lake, one as high as $695!  We believe it should be part of the sale and comprehensive for every buyer. In the long run, we feel the costs to administer this program are well covered by positive word-of-mouth and referrals.”

At the point of delivery, a service representative and the general manager also meet face-to-face with the buyer, giving them another point of contact.

“This interaction lets the customer know that we value them as a long-time customer and personalizes the buying experience,” Boyer said. “Further personalization is achieved by providing each customer with business cards from both parts and warranty managers. Knowing specific employees to ask for in case of an issue is comforting and expedites the process in resolving issues.”

After delivery, the Austin Boats & Motors team continues to follow-up with emails and calls to make sure there are no customer concerns. The dealership also contracts with F.U.$.$. to provide a personalized post-sales marketing system that includes birthday cards, letters, coupons and more. Similar follow-up occurs after service work as well.

Internally, the Austin Boats & Motors management team encourages its staff to address customer concerns with its “$100 satisfaction rule.”

“Our staff has the right to use up to $100 dollar value without prior management approval to appease a disgruntled or loyal, repeat customer,” Boyer said. “In the event that a customer is dissatisfied and we are unable to secure backing from the manufacturer, our staff can make use of this rule to replace batteries, bilge pumps, etc., no questions asked.”

The dealership also recognizes outstanding efforts with its A.C.E. (Awesome Customer Experience) Award, given to an employee whose name is mentioned by a customer in an on-line testimonial, in an email, via social media or in person.

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