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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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Why Bad Service is Better than Average

I hope it caught your attention. The title certainly goes against the grain of every bit of training that you’ve endorsed or been a part of. Honestly, what could there possibly be about bad service that’s better than an average service experience?

But for the automotive service industry, it’s true! Let’s give you a little anecdote, using an experience with a client I’ve had the pleasure of serving in the past.

An Average Service Visit

A customer – let’s call her Lily – was someone that came in when it was convenient for her. Lily would call same day to see if our shop could accommodate her maintenance or minor issues. Usually we could, but if we couldn’t, she’d pop in at a different dealership that could. It was no problem for her.Usually we could, but if we couldn’t, she’d pop in at a different dealership that could. It was no problem for her.

When Lily came into the service drive, she was passive and non-committal for anything aside from the basic oil change. She trusted enough to know a dealership was the best place to service her vehicle, but didn’t really trust us, the staff.vehicle, but didn’t really trust us, the staff.non-committal for anything aside from the basic oil change. She trusted enough to know a dealership was the best place to service her vehicle, but didn’t really trust us, the staff.

So, every visit was average. No shining moments. While courteous and friendly, there wasn’t a connection with Lily.

The Day It Went Really Badly

Then one service visit, everything went wrong. Lily was told to come in that same day but when she arrived, the shop was suddenly overwhelmed. The maintenance her SUV required was more than she expected. Her service advisor (me) was disconnected and simply in sales mode, not service mode. Lily’s quick oil change turned into a nightmare. It was the perfect storm of horribleness that no service advisor wants in their day.

But that day is the best thing that happened between Lily and me, professionally speaking.

What Happened Through a Bad, Bad Service Experience

When it all went south, emotions bubbled over. Lily was super angry and was free with her expressive words. As someone at least partially responsible, I had to take it. I had failed Lily, even though it wasn’t all on me. But something amazing happened.

A dialog opened up.

Sure, it was an inopportune time for it, and certainly wasn’t fun. But now I had Lily’s full attention. The short form involves stepping up to the plate, taking ownership for the failure, and acknowledging the customer’s frustration and inconvenience. Moreover, and pivotally, it gave me an opportunity to FIX the situation and PROVE my trustworthiness.

How is Bad Better than Average?

The customers that come into your service drive just because of convenience are alright with just an average service experience. They don’t need to be committed or emotionally involved. And if you’re not able to service their vehicle when they want, they’ll go elsewhere without a second thought.

A bad service visit, on the other hand, has several impacts.

  • It’s memorable. A snapshot of the moment is engrained in the customer’s brain.
  • It involves emotion. When a customer is able to express their frustration or anger, that means something. An emotional response means there’s a specific concern or a need that hasn’t been met.
  • There’s communication. Do you hear about average service visits? It’s unlikely. But you hear from the angry customers or those who hate your guts. That line of communication is unguarded and allows you to respond. HOW you respond is the most important item.
  • It gives you an opportunity. When you KNOW about the problem, which you do from a bad service visit, it gives you an opportunity to correct it, or fight back. If it’s unclear, the right response is to find a resolution.

How Lily’s Situation Turned Out

I knocked Lily’s socks off with my opportunity to resolve her bad visit. It involved a financial hit with a rental car and a service credit for a future visit. But what I promised to do to resolve the concern happened to the letter, and I earned her loyal service business on absolutely everything.

I saw Lily every six weeks or so, for one thing or another. If I was busy, she’d wait. If I was off, she’d make an appointment. She followed every recommendation without question from then on. Her loyalty was earned through a response to a bad service visit, an opportunity you NEVER GET from an average customer’s visit.  

To Be Clear…

Don’t tick off your customers on purpose. That’s a horrible idea. And don’t settle for average in the service drive, because that’s a great way for another fantastic shop to steal your customers away.

When you see a frustrated, angry, annoyed, or otherwise disturbed customer, take it as your opportunity. Embrace the opportunity to astound that person with your care and concern, and your willingness to take responsibility and take action to correct their situation.

 

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