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Sadly, we’re still a no-growth industry this year. It means any increase a dealer hopes to capture this spring can only come from increasing market share by stealing customers from competitors. So, target competitors that exhibit these signs they’re failing to serve their customers (and, while you’re at it, make sure you’re not a possible target!)

10) Responding slowly to customer inquiries. Slow response simply gives the customer or prospect a negative impression and time to go somewhere else. Any inquiry, especially from an existing customer, should be answered the same day.

9) Making excuses and trying to cover up mistakes. Things happen, so acknowledge them quickly, before the customer can find out on his own from other sources.

8) Failing to offer the customer something extra to make up for a mistake. Let the customer know you care. Explain what happened and how it’s being corrected.

7) Making the customer the enemy! Policies designed to protect the dealership from the customers make it obvious the best interests of the customers are not the priority.

6) Failing to provide training in customer service for the staff. Just bringing in a speaker or sending a couple of employees to a customer service seminar once every five years won’t get the job done. Because the boat business is very competitive, employees must recognize the dealership can no longer afford to anger even one customer. Regular training is critical.
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5) Not empowering employees to solve problems on the spot. They must be able to take care of a customer immediately. They must be confident they can even bend the rules, if necessary, to keep a customer satisfied.

4) Having a phone system that sends customers into some communications black hole. Surveys reveal customers rapidly become angered by phone systems that make it hard to reach a “live” voice. Personal service, even on the phone, is still critical to keeping a customer from disappearing.

3) Failing to be completely truthful. If a customer ever believes he’s been lied to, he’s gone. A dealer’s reputation is always at stake when dealing with a customer and his problems. 

2) Not following through with promised actions. Customers feel they have a right to expect dealers to deliver on a promised service. Failing to do so is among the most common reasons cited by customers for going elsewhere.

1) Displaying an indifferent attitude. It’s the number one business killer! Like, employees who sigh heavily when customers ask for a service; or act clueless about how to help them; or just ignore them! Any of these will lose a customer faster than the dot-com crash.

Today, no dealer can afford to lose a single customer because the staff has failed to recognize they’re in the customer satisfaction business. It’s time to make sure they know.

Related

Sales stagnate in March

Overall boat sales in March were slightly lower compared to last year and year-over-year growth was down by just over 1 percent, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., data that was gathered for 30 states.