Social media is a great way to demonstrate all of these items.
Dealerships have the advantage because they’ve had processes in place to meet customers’ current needs for a long time, but independent shops can compete by playing on their own strengths, which is building relationships.
“If you don’t get creative in how we do that, the advantages of going to a small shop gets eroded. We’ve got to step up our game to keep from becoming a commodity,” Lateiner urged.
Addressing how to deal with challenging customers, Lateiner reminded everyone of customers’ stress levels in the current situation and pointed out that an upset customer wants to feel heard, be acknowledged and know the perceived wrong will not happen again.
“Remember it’s not about you. It’s not a personal attack, even though it often feels that way---unless you’re being intentionally obnoxious and awful, this just isn’t about you. You have to be kind and empathetic, even when they’re not being kind to you.
“You cannot argue with feelings,” Lateiner added. “The accuracy of the complaint is 100% irrelevant because you can’t control their perception. The reality is they’re upset, and we’re not dealing with the complaint, we’re dealing with their feelings. You can’t tell them what they’re allowed to feel, and feelings of lost power, fear, sadness and more often comes out as anger because anger is more socially acceptable. You can’t meet anger with anger, though. You have to meet them where they’re at and work together to resolve the problem.”
Lateiner also advised it’s best to let an angry customer get their feelings off their chest since they are physically unable to listen to you until they’ve released their anger.
“When they’re done, you can start the rest of the process, but if you start talking before they’re done, you aren’t going to get anywhere. You just have to shut up.”
Mistakes made should be owned, using the five-part apology. Thank the customer for bringing the issue to your attention, use empathy, acknowledge them, offer a genuine apology and then work with them to come up with a solution.
Lateiner also recommended practicing self-care.
“It’s a priority and a necessity, not a luxury. If you have a really rough customer, take a walk or watch a video to make your heart happy and fill you back up. Otherwise, you’ll take that bad experience to your next customer and wind up with a whole days’ worth of unhappy customers.
“Don’t get stuck, get excited about this and make it an opportunity," Lateiner encouraged attendees. "Get excited about growth and challenge. Use it as inspiration to innovate and ensure that, in the thinning of the herd, your shop is one that not only survives but thrives because many shops are truly thriving right now, despite the challenges and obstacles.
"We don’t know what the world looks like after COVID-19, but we know that what comes next, the future of our industry, is up to us. Let’s choose collectively to make this be the thing that launches our industry into positive growth. Let’s leverage this to show the world how great this opportunity is, and let’s see it as an opportunity to better ourselves and our industry, and to take better care of our customers in the future.”
A complete webinar schedule for this series is available here or here.