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Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist based in San Francisco. Ed enjoys sports of all kinds and is a part time stand-up comedian.


He can be reached at era39@aol.com.

Tuesday, 07 April 2020 18:19

How to Deal with Disgruntled Customers During Trying Times

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You can either ignore a rude customer or gently try to find a solution, according to Nancy Friedman, “The Telephone Doctor.” You can either ignore a rude customer or gently try to find a solution, according to Nancy Friedman, “The Telephone Doctor.”


Most importantly, don’t let a confrontation escalate.


John Stuef is an automotive collision industry consultant, former regional manager with two large MSOs and a former shop owner, as well as the author of "From Doing to Lending (Your Guide for Inspiring People on the Front Lines)," written with Amy Bradshaw, Ph.D.


He discusses how to calmly take everything down a notch.


“If the customer raises the volume, I tell my service advisors to start slowing down and go with a lower tone,” Stuef said. “I train my people how to be emotional thermostats, so that they can gauge the temperature in the room and act accordingly. If a customer can see that you’re in a relaxed mood, the customer will settle down and actually unwind themselves.”


Certain phrases and specific language can also play a major role in dissipating a confrontation with a disgruntled customer, he said.


“If we have bad news to give a customer, we always preface it with ‘I’m sure you understand’ and 95% of the time they respond favorably. People have no way to disagree to that and it changes the mood almost every time,” Stuef said.

It’s important to know when to give in because many people are more into winning than being right. Have you ever been stuck with an argument even though you realized halfway through you’re wrong?


If dealing with a mad customer is going to require too many hours with no end game in sight while risking negative referrals, look for compromise. If people feel like they’re getting something for their trouble, they will likely back off without it interfering with their victory lap.


Remember, it’s just business. If you start taking it personally, you’re failing. Stay on point and never get personal, even if the customer does not adhere to your protocol.


Remember the customer does not know you and is just venting frustration at you as a representative of your shop. Gently guide the conversation back to the issues at hand and how you intend to resolve it, and try to ignore personal comments, although it can be difficult.


If you can use any of the tips I’ve presented here, you should be able to turn a sour situation into a positive experience and defuse an angry customer even during these stressful and uncertain times.

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