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It sounds backwards, at first, but when was the last time you asked your customers for a complaint or some constructive criticism? If you’re like most dealerships, you’re doing everything you can to avoid complaints and negative reviews. In the past, you may have even ignored customers that voiced a complaint. However, in today’s world of instant feedback and review sites, it’s key to understand the importance of taking care of your customers. Failing to listen to them could damage your reputation. This is why many dealerships survey their customer via e-mail within 24-48 hours of purchase or vehicle service.
Why would you want to purposely bring attention to the shortcomings of your dealership or your staff? The answer: It’s a great way to improve customer service in the future.
Imagine your service writer or cashier handing a comment card to the customer when the work has been performed. Are you likely to get the card completed on the spot? Statistically the odds are small. Your team’s follow up call a couple of days later may not yield a truthful answer either – unless the proper question is being asked.
According to a recent blog on Forbes.com, by Salesforce.com Vice President & Chairman of Customer Care Management & Consulting, John Goodman, many companies believe that when complaints decline satisfaction levels increase when, in fact, that’s typically not the case. The blog goes on to state: “…not even 25% of customers bring their service issues forward because it’s often just too much hassle. Many of them still believe companies won’t care and/or won’t fix the problem to their satisfaction, even if they did receive their complaint.”
Genuine complaints can be valuable – you can’t fix things that you don’t know need correcting. Consider a service advisor that over-promises the timeliness or cost of a repair. The work takes longer than expected and costs more than estimated. And the customer doesn’t voice the complaint. There clearly was a problem (at least from the customer’s perception) and management should know so the advisor can be trained properly so as to provide more accurate information in the future.
Goodman advises that you use the verbiage, “We can only resolve problems we know about” when soliciting feedback from customers. Using a message like this will invite the customer to open up and bring to the forefront any complaints. In this way the problem can be handled and the customer does not feel the need to defect to another dealership, give low marks on an OEM survey, or post negative comments on social media. It’s far better to hear the bad before they go home and take their unresolved issues to Facebook or Yelp! Inviting their feedback immediately can help solve problems faster and help the dealership improve through a more accurate awareness of customer experiences.
If your dealership can capture honest and immediate feedback from the majority of its customers, your success rate to resolve the issues can skyrocket. Along the way, asking for complaints may yield some great positive reviews or feedback as well.
At your service desks, a sign that reads: How did we do today? Tell us, we really want to know. Or you something along the lines of, “Now accepting complaints” or “Wanted: Your Complaints. We want to be perfect.”
If you request legitimate complaints or ask your customers for ways that you can improve your levels of service - you’re bound to get some. This proactive solicitation of complaints will impress your customers. If you then actually take steps to change your processes to avoid the same problem in the future, customers will see that you really care (or at least the original complainer will). And that’s how customer loyalty is built… one customer at a time.
If you implement a process like this, you may find that more complaints can actually lead to increased customer satisfaction levels.