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Unhappy Customer Presents an Opportunity for Great Service

Like many of you reading this posting, my passion for automotive is a result of turning wrenches and providing great service.  Over the years, I have learned how to turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied one almost 100% of the time. When I first started out in automotive, an unhappy customer was an interaction I wanted no part of.  The reason, I am not a confrontational person and I found these types of interactions intimidating.  The solution, to educate myself by reading but also watching how others interacted with these types of situations.  The people who were very good with diffusing customer complaints always seemed to be very good at listening to the customer.

I once had a first time customer have an oil change performed and leave happily only to return later in the afternoon not very satisfied.  The customer found drops of oil on their driveway where they had parked that were not there previously.  I listened attentively and told the customer I will come out to their home personally to take a look and clean the oil.  In the meantime, I asked them to bring the car into the service bay so we could ensure the “run down” was wiped up and the oil and filter were snug – check.  A few hours later, I showed up at the customers house with a small bristle brush and a commercial grade oil cleaner we used in the shop to remove oil stains from the shop floor.  After determining the oil was from the oil change I went ahead and cleaned the oil stain from the driveway.  I took the opportunity to share with the customer the oil had been removed and in the future we would take the extra time to clean the “run down” on the vehicle prior to them leaving.  The customer smiled and said “I can’t believe you came to my home to clean the oil!”

In this case, I simply listened to the customer and acknowledged what they said.  I later went to their home to verify it was in fact true and remedied the situation with a bit of elbow grease.  Even though these types of mishaps were rare, I welcomed them as an opportunity to reinforce to customers why we were the best at what we did.


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