Has this ever happened to you? A customer calls on the phone and says that they picked up their vehicle yesterday and when they got home they found that the technician had left a vacuum line disconnected.
As honest a mistake as that might seem, the customer is livid. The customer begins doubting how careful the technician was with the rest of the repair and then questions whether or not the repair they paid for was actually needed.
When this happens the customer is likely voicing concerns he already had about the service. In other words, he didn't start questioning the quality of work and the diagnosis just because a vacuum line was disconnected. He already had those doubts and the vacuum line brought them to the surface.
Ok, so what are you going to do about it?
You can't blow off the customer as unreasonable or irrelevant. Dissatisfied customers, especially angry dissatisfied customers will spread the word of their distrust to many others for a long, long time. You need a game plan for recovering this customer and winning their trust.
1. Don't let problems and doubts grow. Sometimes in our drive to get the sale and to get the customer's vehicle fixed, we gloss over real concerns the customer has voiced. Often, customers will give you clues that they are not convinced that your recommendations are what they need. Recognize this and realize that you might need to go into more depth with them on the diagnosis performed or the reasoning involved in making the recommendations. Sometimes this might get a bit technical for the customer, so be careful not to confuse them. But give specific results (e.g., "The technician found that there was only 10 volts being generated by the alternator; there should be 12.").
Then when the customer picks up their vehicle, sell them again on the service that was performed. Restate again the diagnosis and what additional information might have been found while conducting the repair.
2. You have to fix the vehicle and the customer. In this case the vehicle fix is simple; have the customer swing by or go out to his location and reattach the hose. But have you ever noticed when a customer is really angry, that fixing their vehicle is not enough. Why is that? Angry customers want more than their vehicle fixed, they want to be heard, they want you to make a change to assure this doesn't happen again, and frankly they want you to know how mad they are.
If you just address fixing the vehicle, or even fix the vehicle first, then the customer is likely to remain upset. Acknowledge that the customer is right and something like this should have never happened. I might even go as far to say, "You know, I'd be upset too. This shouldn't have happened." Fix the customer first by recognizing and validating their feelings.
3. Work to save them as customers. Once you've addressed their feelings and fixed their vehicle it is time to go out of your way to make amends. You might have the authority to offer a free oil change or other service to help appease the customer. Demonstrate to them the lengths that you and the dealership are willing to go to retain their business and to get a second shot to prove that you are a business that can be trusted.
Following these three steps will lead to retaining more customers and future success.