This month, our contributors explain why the best way to deal with a customer complaint is by digging deeper and getting to the root of the problem.
Managing Director, Autosupplies (Chesterfield)
As an ISO 9001:2015 accredited motor factor, we have a procedure in place for dealing with and responding to customer complaints.
We must see such exercise as a process of continual improvement for the business and look at how we can prevent such occurrences from happening again. We monitor the number of complaints and also type of complaint. The complaints are categorised, then passed onto each department manager for further investigation and to action accordingly.
For a motor factor, complaints can vary, but we treat everything we do as a reflection on our business. Van deliveries, customer service, product quality and availability – to name but four – are all things that can affect how we are perceived and ultimately lead to a complaint.
The benefit of having such a procedure in place is that we can also distinguish the seriousness of complaints. In the modern world of social media; reviews, throwaway comments and even blatant attacks can provoke a reaction from others.
We will engage with any negative comments on social media and investigate them thoroughly. With social media, the objective is to take it offline at the earliest opportunity, as the potential to escalate is enormous.
Going back to the trade, we have a very active telesales and business development team, so that a constant dialogue with customers arguably reduces any ‘complaints’, instead making for a healthy exchange of ideas and opinions.
Proprietor, Scotlands Ash Garage
Is the customer always right, even when they are wrong? As an independent garage, we are at the sharp end of the motor trade when it comes to dealing with consumers – and it’s getting harder.
From social media to dealing with a customer on the phone, or in person, the motorist is becoming more sceptical of vehicle service and repair – reluctant to spend any money. In this throwaway society, they are becoming more detached from their vehicle.
We must look at what is behind the complaints though, and I must point out that it is not a full reflection of all customers, just a very small but growing minority. Firstly, people are prepared to spend £60 per month on a gym membership that they don’t use, rather than spend £60 per month on their vehicle. The vehicle is a means to end.
Secondly, main dealer servicing, plans and low cost promotions have done nothing to strengthen the perception of vehicle service and repair. We have new customers who have paid hundreds of pounds for a three year service plan from dealerships and the most work done is an oil filter and oil change in year three.
When the vehicle comes out of the service plan period, the customer can’t understand why the work is then so expensive. It’s because nothing has been done.
All these factors contribute to a disgruntled customer. We have also had to improve at dealing with customer complaints. We are mechanics first – as an industry there is so much training on the mechanical side, but little on how to deal with people, angry or otherwise.