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In life, not everything goes our way. Things happen. Planes get delayed. It rains during a wedding. Life intervenes. In business, the same holds true. If a situation is handled improperly, or is unaddressed, customers are likely to get ignored. With proper attention, however, customers can be forgiving.
Take for example, the story relayed in this article on Business2Community. The author explains how he was a loyal customer of a hotel. On one occasion, he booked the hotel as he had previously had excellent experiences there. However, upon arrival, he found the hotel was under construction. Many of the qualities that he had come to love – such as the contemporary bar - were not completed. He had planned to have some colleagues over at the hotel. However, after seeing it under construction, was displeased. He wished he had been given notice by the hotel about the on-going construction. He may have changed to a different hotel. But, to the hotel’s credit, the one thing that was the same - and ultimately what kept him there - was the hotel staff. Their customer service attitude and familiarity with him as a customer kept his business.
Another example is airlines. Flight delays. Cancellations. Most of the time, these major customer inconveniences are beyond their control. They certainly cannot control the weather. And, it is probably a smart decision on their part to delay a plane that isn’t in tip top shape. Yes, it’s annoying. But, I would argue that HOW they handle it is more important than the situation itself. By being empathetic, accepting responsibility for the situation and apologizing, many customers will understand and continue to patronize the airline. But, I don’t care how many award miles you have with an airline, if they fail to deliver too many times, you will probably find another airline.
I’m fairly certain that situations occur at your dealerships that are beyond your control. Sometimes, things go wrong. And, regardless of how sorry you are, or how bad you feel, you just can’t fix them immediately, no matter how much you want to.
Your customers are, for the most part, willing to give you a second chance. Perhaps even a third. Mistakes happen and how you handle them could be the determining factor in whether that customer stays, or defects to the competition. Take a deep breath, be calm and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. While you perhaps can’t fully solve the problem, would you feel better with the solution you are offering? Once you know the answer to that, chances are that you’ll be able to defuse the situation, calm the customer down and show them that they matter. And that’s all most people want.