Customer complaints are the most common of occurrences in the auto repair industry and any shop owner that denies having had one is lying, simple as that. Nothing is ever perfect and sometimes you'll just run into difficult people that are hard to please. For that reason, as a business owner you'll need to know that dissatisfied customers are sometimes unavoidable and being prepared for them and knowing how to handle these situations is a must. The following are 6 ways to handle a dissatisfied customer.
Be Transparent and don't Deny
This is a pretty important and it is for that reason that it has been listed as the first on our list. When a customer calls in to complain you don't call them out on their complaint and tell them they're wrong. Listen to what they have to say and you'll see that 9/10 their complaint originated on either poor communication or poor listening skills from both parties. Of course you'll never tell a customer they're wrong and this is where the “customer is always right” law comes into effect. You will run into the eventual customer that wants everything for free but remember you were a customer before you became a business owner and every problem can be resolved. Don't get defensive and listen to what they have to say.
After you've listened to their complaint (keyword, listened) and tried to understand where they're coming from, apologize. You don't have to confess to wrong doing, you just need to let them know you apologize for what happened. However, you do have to let them know you care and a simple “we're sorry for the inconvenience and that you feel that way but we want to make things right.” This doesn't admit guilt, it just lets them know you're there to alleviate the problem.
Empathy Goes a Long Way
Empathy isn't just repeating “I understand sir/madam” and not having any idea of what they're talking about. To truly show empathy (as corny as it sounds) is to put yourself in their shoes because if you can do that and not argue for the sake of winning the argument, you might be able to solve the issue and ensure the customer is satisfied and will be a returning customer.
Take Care of the Problem Right Away
We all have priorities and as shop owners you probably always find yourself juggling multiple tasks at once and this is where it is important to not under-promise. When you tell a customer you're going to take care of something, make sure you put it on your list of top priorities. There are always one or two things that aren't high priority and there is always room to try and get a customer back. Think of yourself as a customer and you can't tell me it's good to know your issue is being addressed quickly even though it was the business' fault.
Even if the person reading this is an employee and don't own the shop, you should still take ownership and responsibility for everything that goes on. Example, if you're the one that takes the phone call of the dissatisfied customer be sure to see through the resolution of the issue. If you pass the word from person to person, not only will the message be delivered incorrectly but it will also run the risk of being lost and so will that particular customer. Regardless of the type of issue, if you stay in contact with the client throughout the progress, that shows professionalism and the customer will be glad to know they had someone's full attention.
Go the Extra Mile
This step works in every business but the clearest example is in the restaurant industry. When you go to a famous or important restaurant and they either took too long with your order or completely messed it up, 9/10 they'll try and make things right. Whether it is taking something off your bill or offering a free dessert many places will try and compensate for a mistake they made.
As shop owners you have to do something beyond just fixing the problem. Even if it's a couple of movie tickets, that customer will see you really are sorry for what took place and don't want to lose their business. You might say this is a waste of time but most customers are aware that things happen and will gladly appreciate some sort of amends made.
If you still think it is a dumb idea, think about how much you yearned for a shop full of customers when you first opened. Now that you have a customers you have to do all that you can to hold them. Not against their will of course but everyday there are new shops opening and some with prices lower than yours. So now that you have customers, each one bringing in X amount per year, you have to do all you can to make sure they return.
Most things in life go better if there is a procedure in place for when things don't go according to plan. Granted, every scenario is different but like the multiple emergency drills your kids have in school, there should be a generic set of rules and guidelines you should have for when things don't go smoothly. These tips won't solve major problems like accidents or anything of the sort but they are basic tips every shop owner should know.
Are there any other tips you use that we overlooked?