Keep these employees away from unhappy customers?

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Any dealer who doesn’t want to give top customer service need not read any farther. One can’t ignore, however, that a customer experiences these days can make or break any continuing relationship.

So, while every dealership wants to believe it’s already up to the task, pausing to reflect on all the dealership’s personnel may reveal there are some who, albeit very skilled at their jobs, aren’t the ones to put in front of an unhappy customer. Here, then, is a checklist of employees you DO NOT want on the firing line, based on recommendations from CustomerGuru:

1. A skilled tech employee who, when God was handing out a friendly personality and said, “come forth,” came fifth. Let’s face it: some good team members simply don’t have the charismatic personality that generates a calm, reliable presence. Instead, the employees who do should be the ones delegated to lead any such interaction with unhappy customers. In fact, it’s downright unfair to expect those who do not have such a personality to be aces at customer service.

2. The last employee any dealer wants attempting to sooth a customer is one who is not inherently positive. Handling an unhappy customer will never be easy. Listening to a barrage of negative comments, often spoken rudely, and resolving complaints can bog anyone down. But the team member’s positive attitude will always be reflected in his or her words, and words can work wonders on the customer. It’s not only what is said, but how it’s said that can make all the difference. Here’s an example:

  • Typical language: “We’re sorry your autopilot is acting up but it’s not possible to have someone look at it today, we’re all booked up. Maybe we can get to it tomorrow.”
  • Positive person’s response: “Let me see what I can do for you. I will check for any cancellations and I’ll keep you posted if we can possibly find an answer for you today. If I can’t make that happen, will it be fine if I work you in for early tomorrow?”

What is key in the latter response? a) It shows problem ownership and that there will be an effort to please the customer. b) Equally important, the positive tone used is pivotal. Many times, the interaction may not be face-to-face but online or over the phone. When a customer cannot even see the team member, it can become all about the tone used. The team member must never sound apathetic, rude, unwilling or uninterested in helping.

3. Keep employees who normally aren’t empathic toward customer problems off the front line. Today, the pace of life is so frantic and self-centered that empathy might be considered a virtue. Empathy with the customers, meaning having the ability to step into their shoes, is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s not easy. But it separates poor customer service from the excellence every dealership strives for. So, those employees who can genuinely empathize are the ones you want fronting customer service.

4. A team member who cannot be persistent, determined and innovative for the customer should not be counted on to provide successful customer service. Conversely, an employee good at customer service understands customer service is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Every customer can have a different set of expectations. Consequently, the team member must be good at changing strategies and adopting new ones in dealing with different customers. He or she should be willing to take a shortcut to solve a customer’s problem. And, he or she doesn’t stop until the customer is delighted. That can mean exploring all angles, thinking out of the box and when all options are exhausted, even creating some new answer that could work.

5. Any employee who really isn’t a good communicator should not be asked to deal with customer problems. Such employees can be great at their particular skills, but not everyone is a good communicator. Moreover, communication is a two-fold process. It includes speaking and listening. A customer experience ace has both these skills. While speaking clearly is important, actively listening is a talent a good customer service team member must have. For example, he or she must avoid making an already angry or disappointed customer repeat himself because they weren’t carefully listening. Clear communication also includes not assuming things but asking the customer for clarifications. Remember — “When you assume, you make an ass out of ‘u’ and me.”

6. And, finally, my favorite trait — if they can’t be potential Oscar winners, keep them out of customer service. Go ahead — laugh. But experts on customer service say being a good actor is essential to being a good customer experience employee. Simply put, every good customer-centered employee will have some effective acting skills to maintain their daily cheery personality.

Team members who can maintain their cool and keep a smile on their face (even when the entire ship may be sinking), and who are looking for that essential life-saving procedure or response for an unhappy customer, will make the dealership the winner every time.


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