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Is your receptionist costing you deals? Seven steps to handle an upset customer

"In today’s era of social media, a couple of keystrokes on a mobile phone, and hundreds hear about a company’s misstep"

Remember the quote ‘nice guys  finish last’? Whether you have a ‘nice guy’ or ‘nice girl’ answering  the phone at your dealership, the way they handle the call can be lethal to car deals – either today or down the road.

I was within earshot of a receptionist at a German luxury car dealership recently in which the after-hours receptionist spent more than 15 minutes trying to appease a client who was upset about having to return to the service department and demanded to come in the next morning on Saturday and be offered a loaner car. Rather than offer empathy and a phone number to the service department in the morning or escalate to an available manager, she listened to the whole story and agreed with the customer that the dealership should have been able to fix the car.

How would she know? I am a big proponent of telling the truth to a customer, but in this case, it should be decided by a service manager, service advisor, or even shop foreman to determine if the technician was in error and share that information – not a part-time teenage employee.

The old customer service paradigm used to be that an unhappy customer told 10 or more people about a negative business experience. In today’s era of social media, a couple of keystrokes on a mobile phone, and hundreds hear about a company’s misstep.

Every customer-facing employee should be at least trained on the basics of how to diffuse a frustrated customer.  Here are the seven steps recommends to handle a heat case:

  1. Remain calm
  2. Don’t take it personally
  3. Use your best listening skills
  4. Actively sympathize
  5. Apologize gracefully
  6. Find a solution
  7. Take a few minutes on your own

Just being nice or thoughtful isn’t enough. Just like your sales team needs specific skills to handle customers, so does the receptionist. Certain tones of voice are more effective and specific word tracks are a must for a quality customer experience. A little training goes a long way to assure a quality experience and prevent lost business now – and later.


Tom LaPointe CarChat24 CHAT EXPERT 24/7 Interactive Automotive Dealer Website LIVE CHAT Solutions Hosted or In-House Options – FREE web chat software 727-638-0195

Tom has an MBA in Marketing and is an automotive writer and author with more than 15 years experience in virtually every aspect of the retail auto industry. He began working with the internet building websites at Johns Hopkins University in the 90's, and has been a performance leader in nearly every dealer role, from sales and service, to web development and viral marketing.

Views: 157

Tags: CSI, customer satisfaction, customer service, phone skills, receptionist


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