Service Writer Job Description
Service Writers act as informative middlemen between their employer and customers at automotive shops at dealerships or independent garages. Service Writers try to make the experience of having your car serviced as quick, easy and understandable as possible. They coordinate the process of obtaining information from the customer and setting the repair or maintenance process in motion.
Working with both customers and mechanics, Service Writers must have a strong grasp on automotive repair concepts. Service Writers typically work a regular schedule, which may include some weekend shifts. They often report to a Service Manager.
Service Writer Duties and Responsibilities
Part automotive knowledge base, part customer service rep, Service Writers answer questions from drivers in need of car services. They aim to explain concepts in plain language and to coordinate efforts among the staff in order to build trust and make customers happy. From our analysis of job listings, the following activities are central to a Service Writer’s job:
Service Writers maintain a central calendar with data on who is bringing a car in and for what reason. They take the urgency of the repair into consideration and try to space out incoming vehicles so that mechanics are not overwhelmed and customers do not have to wait as long.
Create Repair Orders
After talking with the customer and briefly inspecting the described problem, Service Writers fill out sheets (either manually or digitally) detailing who will need to look at the situation, such as a brake specialist or a body shop repairman. They then dispatch vehicles to the proper place.
Every customer has a service record detailing what actions have been performed on a given vehicle. Service Writers keep these files up-to-date. They also verify contact information, check for recalls and keep tabs on warranties.
Monitor Service Progress
Service Writers are the central point of contact. They know where the vehicle is within the shop and where it needs to go next. If a part is required from outside the facility, the Service Writer notes its scheduled delivery and updates the staff and the car’s owner. When a vehicle is being attended to after an accident, Service Writers may need to provide regular progress reports to the customer’s insurance company and obtain their approval for changes.
Communicate with Customers
People depend on their vehicles, so they are eager to know how long services are going to take. Additionally, repairs can be expensive, so they want detailed information on costs. Service Writers assist with both. They provide timeframes on when the car will be ready to pick up. If there’s a delay, they relay the problem and explain why it is taking longer. When going over cost estimates, Service Writers may present various options, such as what type of tires might be best for someone’s driving patterns. They explain what needs to be done and give a breakdown of what each service will cost.
Service Writer Skills
Successful Service Writers enjoy interacting with people. They are empathetic and patient because they know how important a functioning car is to someone’s everyday life. Employers also are seeking candidates with the following skills:
- Multitasking, to handle multiple customers at the same time and to manage information coming in from various directions, such as phone calls or in-person updates from mechanics
- Paying attention to detail so that all work is performed to the customer’s satisfaction
- Maintaining a calm, professional demeanor when customers or staff members get stressed
Tools of the trade
Anyone planning on becoming a Service Writer should be prepared to work with the following:
- Computers – To input data, send emails and perform basic office tasks
- Phones – To converse with customers regarding the status of their cars
- Warranties – Written point of reference stating how long a repair or part is covered without cost, such as tires guaranteed for 60,000 miles
- Recalls – Mandated repairs due to a potential safety issue
- Order forms – Paperwork detailing the work to be performed
- Estimates – Cost breakdown for services for customers to understand what they will need to pay
Service Writer Education and Training
Service Writers often possess a high school diploma (or the equivalent). Post-secondary training in automotive maintenance and repair will help catch a hiring manager’s eye, as will previous experience in customer service.
Service Writer Resources
To become a great Service Writer, first be a great reader! These four books will help you decide if you are a good match for the occupation and how to improve your skills when you land a Service Writer position.
Service Writer/Advisor Basics: A Basic Explanation of the Requirements and Duties for Those Exploring Service Writing as a Career by Charles P. Hillier – This reference book discusses what it takes to be a successful Service Writer and offers suggestions on how to see car repair from the customer’s perspective.
Ferguson’s Careers in Focus: Automotives by Ferguson Publishing – Covering 19 different career possibilities for car enthusiasts, this book provides information helpful to becoming a Service Writer as well as a good introduction to all the roles performed at automotive shops.
Automotive Service Management: Total Customer Relationship Management by Mitch Schneider – The author of this book is a National Automotive Service Advisory Panel member and former host of the “Tech Tips” segment on the popular Truckin’ USA television show, so he knows a thing or two about the industry. Readers will gain a greater understanding of relationships with consumers, how to measure satisfaction and the importance of loyalty.
Extra Mile: 500 Customer Service Tips for Success: Tools to Attract, Satisfy and Retain Even the Most Difficult Customer by Tycho Press – Happy customers keep coming back, so it’s in the best interest of Service Writers to do what they can to provide a positive experience. Filled with real-life scenarios and customer service secrets of business giants, reviewers praise the book for being “straight forward,” “well-written” and “insightful.”
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