"The only difference between an ordeal and an adventure is your attitude," states the recent, popular internet meme I encountered, and I agree.
Customer disputes often begin when you hear from a third party. The customer may not complain because of their feelings: shame, embarrassment, or self-doubt, to name a few. You may instead hear it from a lawyer or regulator (i.e. a Motor Vehicle Dealer Board, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), State Attorney General, State Consumer Affairs Division, Better Business Bureau etc.)
There are some customers who will find something wrong with the vehicle and use that as a wedge to try and leverage you into some bigger action. This type of customer will not usually come right out and tell you they want out of the unit, but rather will go "on campaign" and send you emails and letters and phone calls demanding you fix the problem. This campaign may start with an internet posting complaining about the vehicle and the dealership. Ultimately, the customer will get frustrated and finally ask you to buy back the unit. Customer problems often begin with internet complaints and how you address those early on may determine your ability to successfully conclude the problem.
So, this is where opportunity begins.
Treat the customer using the Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have done onto you." Always proceed as you would want to be treated in the same situation. Being nice and being kind is always appropriate.
Over my 30 years, I have crafted a three (3) step model to manage these situations. I will detail the first step here as well as what not to do. My next article will address steps 2 and 3.
Schedule a meeting. Make it formal. Do not have these conversations on the telephone. The customer should have to "invest" in this mutually shared experience, which will require effort on the part of the customer. Invite the customer to come see you in the store.
Try practicing these items with team members. It may be hard to eliminate bad habits.
Check out these 3 videos with quick steps for resolving a dealership customer dispute, complaint, & problem .
In Part 2, I will show you how to conclude the complaint.
Tom Kline, a former dealership owner with 30+ years of experience, specializes in solving dealership problems through risk mitigation remedies, compliance, and dispute resolution for dealerships. Tom is the Lead Consultant and Founder of Better Vantage Point and has worked with publicly-held and private dealerships. Kline recently created AlwaysDoBetter.com/HowWeHelp, a digital comment box, to prevent employees and customers from posting negative reviews online while giving the dealer an opportunity to resolve the issue. Kline is a member of the Expert Panel for Dealership Marketing Magazine and an Endorsed Expert for the RVDA, VIADA, and the CIADA. Kline recently spoke at the national Digital Dealer Conference and will be presenting at the RVDA National Conference. Thank you for seeing things from a Better Vantage Point.
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