At the core, luxury chauffeured operations revolve around one thing: Customer service.
Ultimately, it’s what sets the limo industry apart from transportation network companies (TNCs) out to make a quick buck. Mark Kini, founder and CEO of Boston Chauffeur in Beverly, Mass., spoke to LCT about how to create a team that strives for perfection caring for clients.
Step 1: Collaborate
One-on-one coaching creates an effective team. “We are a smaller company, so getting the whole team together at one time and still staffing the phones can be challenging,” Kini said. “We record all of our calls, and I use what I learn from the recordings to help our customer service representatives differentiate themselves from the competition. We aren’t robotic in terms of giving rates. We don’t want to sound like we are ordering a pizza.”
He also focuses on training his staff to build a rapport with customers. “We ask for their names, and use it two to three times during the course of the conversation to add a more personal touch to the call instead of just a price quote,” he explains. “We’ve been in business for 15 years, and I’m a hands-on owner. Our company has a great reputation and solid reviews on our Facebook and Yelp pages.”
Kini believes providing benefits such as workman’s compensation, health insurance, dental, paid vacation time, and PTO is what helps motivate his employees to differentiate Boston Chauffeur from TNCs. “I think if you are cutting corners in those areas, you’re going to give up on the service part of the equation.”
Step 2: Problem Solve
If anything does go wrong, Kini is always ready to solve issues to the best of his ability.
“Being honest with the customer is the best approach,” he said. “We’ll do everything we can to resolve an issue with the customer amicably. It’s important to call the customer, take responsibility, and ask them how you can make it right instead of coming up with all types of excuses.”
There’s a reason why “honesty is the best policy” is widely quoted. “It really simplifies things because now you aren’t putting yourself in a position where you are playing a game of telephone with the customer; one version of the story gets twisted into another and so on,” he says.
Kini, who has previously written an article on staying fit while running a limo company for LCT (see related link), uses a Lifefitness Treadmill Workstation about one to two hours per day.
Step 3: Listen
Kini’s biggest piece of advice to other operators is listen to your customer. “As LCT Editor Martin Romjue says in his June column, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason,” he says. “Really listen to what the customer’s needs are, ask qualifying questions, and offer the best solution for what their particular issue may be.”
While he admits it may sound like simple advice, so many potential clients are now ingrained in the Uber mentality that you have to be able to decipher needs other than affordability.
“The customers are looking for the cheapest option, and while that’s true in a lot of circumstances, I don’t think the chauffeured car industry would still have any demand if it was true for all of our customers.”