PowerSports Business

July 10, 2017

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SOLUTIONS 42 • July 10, 2017 • Powersports Business www.PowersportsBusiness.com It was a beautiful spring morning. The sunrise was amazing; the ride to work went smoothly; business had been rockin'. I had conducted a YTT (yesterday, today & tomorrow) huddle with the service writers, lot porter and techs and settled into my office to go over the service schedule. I saw the customer walking toward the ser- vice counter. I didn't think much about it until I got the call from the service writer: "We've got a hot one here. ..." We had a written policy for handling irate customers: Defer them to the department manager. As the service manager, this was my call to action. As I headed for the counter to meet the customer, I started prepar- ing myself by reviewing our Six Steps for Han- dling Angry Customers. 1. GET THEM AWAY FROM THE CUSTOMER TRAFFIC. I have an office where I can take the customer and close the door. When my door is closed, the team knows it means no calls or interrup- tions. I invite the customer to sit down across from my desk; if they prefer to stand, I still sit. This puts them in a physically dominant posi- tion. I want them to feel they are in control at this point. I don't want to create an impression that this will be an adversarial meeting. I have a large mirror on the wall behind my desk. I move my chair, so the customer can see him- self or herself. No one enjoys looking at an angry face — especially when it is his or her own. It helps calm them down. 2. LISTEN TO THEIR STORY. I need to focus on them and let them vent. The "iceberg theory" states what lies under- neath is often a larger issue — and it might not even relate to their complaint. They may have had a really bad morning at home. Regardless, they have to get the whole story out before you can proceed. I take notes and clarify things using phrases like: "If I heard you correctly, you said that ..." 3. EMPATHIZE (NOT SYMPATHIZE) WITH THEM. As soon as they are finished, I let them know I have empathy for them. I have to be careful: Empathy is letting them know I understand how they feel; sympathy is sharing their feel- ings, which makes me a partner with them — this isn't what I want to do. Use "feel, felt, found" statements to create empathy; "I know how you feel; I had a similar thing happen to me and felt the same way. However, I've found the best way to take care of this is to gather all the facts, so I can come up with a solution." 4. APOLOGIZE TO THEM. The next thing I will do is apologize for their inconvenience. I avoid admitting any wrong- doing or guilt on our part. "I want you to know we are truly sorry that your motorcycle quit, and you had to ride back with your buddy." 5. DO WHAT IT TAKES. I make it obvious that I'm immediately gather- ing information so I can come up with a solu- tion. They want to see me taking action NOW. Once I have the facts, I ask the customer what he or she wants us to do. I've made the mistake of blurting out an expensive resolution only to find out the customer just wanted an apology and a sign we were fixing our processes. If our dealership isn't at fault, it becomes more difficult. 1) Is there a "grey" area where we're not sure who's at fault? If so, I defer to the customer. 2) Do I want to "fire" this cus- tomer? This may depend on how many prob- lems we've had with this particular customer. Is it chronic — "nothing ever works right," "we're always in the wrong," etc.? I remember a frequent complainer who told me; "If you don't take care of this, I'm going to buy a bike from Fred's (our competitor down the street)." When I'd had enough, I told the customer: "I'll take care of this for you, even though it's not our fault. However, you can never come back to us again for service." This made it hard for the customer to badmouth us, since we fixed his bike for free. If the resolution is not that expensive, I will just take care of it (goodwill), particularly if he or she has been a good customer. 6. STAND BY YOUR PROMISES! Regardless of the situation, once I have com- mitted to a solution, I will take steps to ensure sure it happens as promised. I always follow up personally to make sure the customer is completely satisfied. No matter how dedicated you are to customer service, you will have dissatisfied customers. Handling the situation properly is the differ- ence between retaining their business and creating an upset customer. Angry customers will be outspoken to their friends and may write negative reviews and comments on social media. The goal should always be to do what is right for the customer. PSB Steve Jones is founder and president of SJ Con- sulting, Inc. He has worked in the powersports industry for more than 30 years, for dealerships and manufacturers, as a consultant and trainer. Contact him at stevejonesconsults@gmail.com. 6 steps for handling upset customers RETAIL REMEDIES STEVE JONES

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