The R.I.D.I.L. of Keeping Customers

The mystery explained in this first of 5-part series

Some everyday interactions can wreck customer satisfaction. I identify these unfortunate interactions by the acronym R.I.D.I.L., which shouldn’t be a mystery at all once understood. This month we’ll talk about the first misstep that hurts customer satisfaction: Rudeness.

Incivility or rudeness is easy to understand when you are its recipient. Unfortunately, some people live unaware of how their trajectory through life spills onto others. Listen as you walk the dealership for employee interaction with each other and especially with customers. Is this conversation, these interactions, in any way exhibiting lack of manners or discourteous? Is it polite and respectful?

Rudeness tends to come out when one’s under pressure, busy, in a new environments and, in some sad cases, where airs of superiority overshadow those we engage. Remember who the boss is: the customer. Engagement should be more formal at the beginning, older customers might bristle when greeted by informality, and then let the formality relax as the customer does.

Customers sniff out rude attitude or treatment. The deal still might get done, but the unfortunate story the customer tells others may go viral. Because rudeness is heard and felt, you’ll want to circulate to pick it up. This means keeping eyes and ears alert to snippets of conversation so you can catch rudeness and correct the behavior quickly.

After all, you invest thousands a month in technologies to help service customers more conveniently. Rudeness can make this investment useless! F&I tools like e-menu software that provide structure for packaging and presenting appropriate options and choices for the customer can help guide a more professional dialog. This can be very fruitful for being able to respond politely, calmly and convincingly when handling objections.

Harvard Business Review had an interesting article, “The Price of Uncivility,” last year. Its research confirmed that people are less likely to buy from a company where an employee was rude to them. It also said that a customer witnessing even a single “unpleasant interaction” leads them to generalize about its other employees and the organization—and even the brand.

Rudeness among employees and toward customers is costly. Of the workers in the HBR research:

  • 48% intentionally decreased their work effort.
  • 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work.
  • 78% said that their commitment to the organization declined.
  • 25% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers.

Finally, because rudeness is one of five customer satisfaction killers, it’s best not to tolerate it. Remind staff to think before they speak, to weigh the sound and impact of their words, tone, and speaking energy and to know themselves—does frustration, pressure, and impatience squeak out as abrupt, discourteous or sarcastic behavior?

Teach and hold everyone in the dealership accountable to this truth: Customers pay the bills. Yes, even when they’re rude to you!

Next month, another key answer in the R.I.D.I.L of customer dissatisfaction, incompetence.

Jim Maxim, Jr. is President of MaximTrak Technologies, Reach him at

Jim Maxim, Jr.


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