Here at Spidernet we pride ourselves in offering our dealers more than just a website. That’s why we set up our Learning Hub and filled it up with useful guides and advice articles on a range of topics from SEO, to Social Media and more. And you can read more marketing advice for car dealers here.
But anyway, onto today’s guide. We all know how important customer care is in the automotive industry. In fact we recently wrote a nice guide all about the importance of customer care to car dealers, where we stressed this exact point.
One of the most important aspects of customer service is dealing with complaints. Not all dealerships will get complaints from customers, but if someone does come along with something to say it’s important that you, as a business, are able to deal with it properly. In doing so you should be aiming to leave the customer happy and your reputation in tact.
ESTABLISH A COMPLAINT-HANDLING PROCESS
One thing that we would advise you to do is create a complaints-handling procedure that you can turn to whenever you do receive some negative feedback. It doesn’t have to be too complex, but you should have clear business guidelines on how you respond to a complaint. You will want to outline who is informed of the complaint, how soon after it’s made you should respond, and the means and method of responding.
It’s worth noting that complaints may be found in all manner of places. Some may come over the phone and others via email. You may also see customers complaining on online review websites, social media and other places online. Therefore, it’s a good idea to ensure that your complaints-handling procedure takes into account all of these different eventualities.
“Train your staff and management in complaints handling. Give them confidence to tackle the difficult customers and support in their actions. Excellent complaint handling isn’t easy and can sometimes be stressful and feel unrewarding. Confirm it’s importance in providing great customer service.”The Institute of Customer Service
Once you have your process outlined, you will want to ensure that all of your members of staff are fully aware of what it entails. It’s a good idea to have it written down and available for referencing when complaints do come in. You also need to remember to ensure that all new members of staff are up to speed with the procedure, when they join the business.
THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN RESPONDING TO COMPLAINTS
There are a number of things that you should take into consideration when responding to complaints from customers. You will want to think about all of the following points in order to ensure that you are doing the best you can to please your customer and to help maintain your dealership’s good reputation.
It is always worth bearing in mind that if someone is complaining to your dealership, they are most probably going to be in a bad mood. And if you ignore someone, or put off responding to them for a prolonged period of time, then you’re guaranteed to get them more riled up. We would recommend you have an outlined response time for any circumstance and have it written down in your complaint-handling procedure.
If you receive a complaint over the phone then you’ll have to act there and then but an email could easily get forgotten. Therefore, make sure you make note of any email complaints and reply to them as soon as possible.
If you see complaints about your business on social media channels then a fast and professional (more on this in a second) response is even more vital. This is because any comments made on social networks are also visible to the general public, meaning your delayed reply can be seen by all. If dealing with complaints on social media it’s vital that you are as quick as possible to reply, leaving your dealership looking professional to the onlooking public. For more information on dealing with complaints on Facebook, read our Car Dealer Guide to Facebook today!
As well as responding quickly, it’s just as important that you do so in a professional manner. Tone is everything and you need to ensure that you don’t do or say anything that can make matters worse.
We would recommend that you begin any response, on any medium (email, Facebook, Twitter), with an apology. Even if you definitely aren’t to blame for the incident, it doesn’t hurt to say something like: ‘’Firstly, I would like to apologise… and I hope that we can sort out your issue as soon as possible”.
As well as apologising, it’s important that you remain calm and professional throughout any discussions you have with customers. Even if the customer is being unreasonable, you have to ensure that you don’t become visibly frustrated or annoyed. Always remain calm, always be friendly and always try to be as helpful as possible. Any acts of aggression on your part could be posted to social media platforms if a disgruntled customer wants to put people off using your dealership.
Where did the complaint come from?
If you received a complaint in a public forum, such as Facebook, Twitter, or an online review website, then you will want to make sure that you reply to it right away and leave anyone who sees your response feeling confident in your ability to deal with such situations. As we mentioned earlier, when a complaint is public, so is your response, so be sure to get in there quickly and offer a professional solution.
We would recommend dealing with the problem out of the eyes of the public. Therefore, if a past customer complains on Facebook or Twitter, we’d advise you to reply with something along the lines of…
“Dear INSERT NAME HERE, we are sorry for your inconvenience. We will give you a call today and ensure that we can sort out this issue. Customer service is something that we take very seriously. We’ll be in touch shortly.”
This response is great. By phoning the customer, you are actively getting in touch with them to solve the issue. However, by writing this in response to their complaint before you make the call, you’re showing anyone else who may see it that you are prepared to deal with the situation and solve the issue for the disgruntled customer.
“It’s not uncommon that an offended customer or internet troll is trying to get an emotional reaction or response from their post. It is critical that you never take it personal or engage or challenge the person negatively. Remember, this is in public, and you are being judged by not only the poster, but all your followers.”- PennState
If the complaint is from someone whose contact details you don’t have, then you can always ask them politely to contact you. Again, you want to ensure that you aren’t having a back-and-forth infront of everyone. If you don’t have contact details for this person, then the following response is advised…
“Dear INSERT NAME HERE, we are sorry for your inconvenience. Please email our friendly customer service team at INSERT EMAIL ADDRESS HERE and we will do our best to sort out this issue for you. Customer care is something that we take very seriously and we will do all we can to help.”
Both of these responses are perfect. You have acknowledged the customer by name, taken the conversation out of the public eye and shown your dealership to be professional and willing to help.
Encouraging feedback is a great way to get a gauge of how your dealership is performing. Perhaps you could create a customer feedback form that you send to everyone who has purchased a vehicle from you. It could ask a variety of questions related to your service, your staff and anything else that you are intrigued to know about.
Keep your negative feedback private
Asking for feedback allows you to receive complaints directly. In some cases, this may prevent people from posting negative comments on social media or online review websites for all to see.
By receiving your complaints directly you will be able to deal with them quickly and professionally. Hopefully this will mean that any disgruntled customers will be appeased before they get angry enough to start posting online or telling their friends.
Keep an eye out for positive feedback
By asking for feedback from your customers you may end up coming across some very positive comments regarding your dealership. It’s worth keeping an eye out for these as you may be able to convert this feedback into a positive testimonial on an online review website or your Google profile page. Why not contact the customer and kindly ask them to post their comments online? Here at Spidersnet we have stressed the importance of positive reviews online a lot.
“If you come across positive feedback, don’t be afraid to thank the customer and kindly ask them to post their comments on your Google profile page or an online review website. Positive reviews online don’t just make you look good, they are also great for search engine optimisation.”Adam Rowden
Ok so there you have it. Our guide to dealing with customer complaints. We are sure that most of you are fully capable when it comes to dealing with customers, so you may already be doing most of what is listed above. However, hopefully you may have come across some new bits and pieces giving you some new ideas on how to deal with customers. Anyway, here are a few snippets to take away with you…
- Put together a complaints-handling procedure to ensure that all of your staff are dealing with compliants in the same manner.
- Never ignore negative comments, especially on public forums such as online review sites and social media!
- Always remain calm and professional when dealing with complaints. Never get annoyed or aggressive.
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