Recently my daughter ran into a problem at the car dealership where she bought her car.
When closing the deal the business manager arranged financing through the bank and explained the conditions to us. The most important issue to my daughter was the amount that she needed to pay. When she ran into problems with the bank after a month, she approached the dealership that had provided us with the details surrounding the car loan and asked why the conditions (according to the bank) were different from those that had been explained by the business manager.
After discussion with the business manager, it was clear that an honest mistake had been made. However, the business manager told my daughter that she needed to solve the problem by getting another loan, on her own, and pay off the original loan. In other words: despite the error that the business manager had made, she was not prepared to take on the responsibility, and accountability for the error, and resolve the issue on my daughter’s behalf.
This attitude did not sit well with me and I approached the general manager of the dealership, explained that this was the third car our family had bought from them in the last three years and that I was sure he felt that the dealership needed to take a more proactive role in resolving this issue. Not surprisingly, he agreed, and they are now buying out the loan themselves and putting my daughter into a loan at a bank that can accommodate her needs.
Has this left a bad taste in our mouths? Absolutely. However, the general manager may just have saved the day, as long as the new deal goes through without a hitch.
By not taking responsibility for the error she made, the business manager put at risk, on the dealership’s behalf, a 10-year relationship (leasing and then buy-outs) with a family that has been totally loyal to them. A family that has referred numerous other people to them. And all because she just couldn’t be bothered to solve a problem that was of her own making. It was much easier to push the problem onto a young and inexperienced person (as far as car loans goes) than to realize this was a much bigger issue than just concluding a deal and patting herself on the back.
Most often customers expect good service. That is not what keeps them loyal. It’s that one experience of bad service that tears a relationship apart, and drives customers away (also read Why do customers leave you). A few year’s ago I read a wonderful book titled: “Delight Me…The Ten Commandments of Customer Service”. The most most dramatic and incredible fact that was presented in that book was:
• 60% of “satisfied” customers regularly switch companies or brands.
These days it’s less about keeping customers satisfied – everyone tries to do that. These day’s it’s all about Customer Delight – going above and beyond.
So, how are YOU making sure that your customer stays happy and loyal, and that your staff are not creating problems for your business relationships? Make sure that there is a process for customer feedback in place and ensure that your employees are well trained. It only takes one small problem with a bad attitude and your customer could be gone forever. And remember, if your business is built on repeat sales, then that bad attitude could cost you the lifetime value (multiple purchases over many years) of that customer – not just the deal that has a problem attached to it.
Neville Pokroy from the marketing company Mastermind Solutions consults in the areas of strategic marketing planning, as well as in the development and execution of marketing strategies and plans. He assists companies who require marketing expertise to plan and fully execute marketing programs. He helps them make good choices, particularly with regard to the emerging technologies. If you want to have more choice in marketing your business, set yourself apart, and increase the odds of generating additional revenue for your business, visit our website or call (905)886-2235. Please follow me on Twitter: @smaaketer
Excellent comment. At one point in my life I made dozens of out-of-town business trips, which gave me many opportunities to observe service providers making mistakes.
I realized that two things were important; first the manner in which the poorly served complains. I observed and experience that one slid farther on s**t than on sandpaper.
Second, I recognized that all humans err. I chose to judge the service provider not by the magnitude of the mistake, but by the quality of the recovery. Those who recovered well made me into a very loyal customer.
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