Issue Date: Service Advisor July 1, 2012, Posted On: 7/5/2012
To diagnose or not – problems both ways One of the hardest lines for service advisors to walk is the temptation to diagnose vehicles in the service drive. You've seen a lot of vehicles and often you know enough to make the right call. But he problem with too much diagnosis is that it results in a predetermined repair. On the flip side is not enough diagnosis, which can lead to unproductive technician time, misdiagnosis of the problem and "no problem found" situations. So where is the happy medium?
Well, it would be nice to say that there is a sold rule to follow, but like everything on the service drive, each situation is a little different. However, are two prime tools in your diagnostic kit;
A good customer complaint
What, when, where
The hallmark of a solid customer complaint is that it answers the basic questions of what, when and where. Our main goal in writing a complaint is to turn the description of the problem from the customer into something that can be readily addressable by the technician. In other words, focus the customer on what the nature of the concern is. Take a look at this example;
Customer states check oil leak
-- or --
Customer states black oil leak comes from the back of the engine area and leaks a small puddle on the driveway.
Looking at the first write-up, we can barely call that a complaint. "Customer states check ..." actually isn't a complaint; it is a request for inspection. So always try to avoid that wording unless that is what the customer is asking for. The second complaint provides enough detail to direct the technician into the proper area of repair.
Moreover, it also helps provide clues for dispatching the work. If you work in a shop where the techs are specialized in the areas of repair, an oil leak might be routed to one tech, while a transmission leak would go to a different tech.
How do we get from a poor write-up to a good one? By asking the right questions - what, when, where. What color is the fluid? When do you notice this leak? Where does the leak seem to be coming from? If you're stuck, falling back on the three W's can help you gain more information out of the customer.
For drivability and transmission related concerns, the when can be the most important. Does the problem occur in the vehicle is cold or warm? Does it occur on acceleration or when slowing? When turning? When at a specific speed? When using specific accessories? The list can go on and on.
See it, smell it, hear it
In conjunction with the customer's description are your own observations. Now some shops have been scared senseless by misguided factory people about elaborating on customer complaints. And with good reason, that can come back to bite the factory and sometimes the dealership. Of course, you should never write something as if the customer said it, when they didn't.
However, that doesn't mean you just shut yourself down and don't contribute to solidifying the complaint for the technician. You could make extra notes on the hard copy or as a separate comment during write-up that would divide your observations from the customers.
Use your senses. If you can hear it, if you can see it, smell it, touch it, or in some way verify and notice the concern, you should write it down.